The Diasporic Child

Photo by Juan Rojas on Unsplash
Written by Apurva Prasad

A small note of the poem:

This poem is written in the form of an improvised ghazal. This is a brief definition of what the ghazal is from the Poetry Foundation, “Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s.”


The Diasporic[1] Child


No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved.   

If I’d lived longer, I would have waited longer.   



The arms of many histories lovingly strangle the diasporic child,

Her past is made love to by infinites of events, but no event- no one- claims the diasporic child.


One could try to alter the past, only to falter with an oedipal[2] halter garlanded,

Around your neck, history likes to own us, let me own it first- I am a Diasporic Child.


Madrasi[3]  birth token- Sapphire Ocean speedily crossed,

To a land parched, where camels and onyxes outside the oriental dream marched, to that land was whisked the diasporic child.


The Omani desert scorched and prickly, sickly contrasts,

Motherland of saffron, Taj Mahal marbled coldly clean- Mumtaz[4] breathes her last- grieving, but what would you know of grief- oh, diasporic child?


However the dry desert, the musk, the monarchy, mosques,

The oasis shimmering like the underside of a jinn[5] in the Arabian nights was preferred to the Bharat Mata[6] by the diasporic child.


Other influences percolated, quicksilver as water through the sands unfaithful grain,

Nurtured in the barren of a desert, seeds of an English education within the diasporic child.


Of form one kind, but in aspect another, in look Hindustan[7], but Hindustan had to compete [and loose to] an English tutor mother.

The desert, recoiled, Arabic foiled- I am that diasporic child.


Oh, the tongue has been cut! The Mother Tongue you shriek, but,

How is a tongue cut, there was no tongue to speak, no tongue to be spoken of- in the Diasporic child.


Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Malayalam, all indulged in eternal voiceless surya pranayams[8]

In the sunless, moth-ball perfumed closet of the parents of the diasporic child.


The supposed lack of language, juxtaposed strongly,

With an effulgence of love, every birthday celebrated, every emotion vindicated, never once in her household felt displaced, the diasporic child.


She gave out love as honestly, with lips unpolished, skin that could melt into your, body’s sand dune,

Grain for grain, gasping I love you and Meri Jaan in the same breath – lips of a diasporic child.


You try desperately to place her, but she slips slides and sidles

Into too many categories, her multiple mirrored facets blind you; you try and fail so desperate to find a completeness and ethnicity to the diasporic child.


She is like a moonlit dandelion, who does wander yonder,

But you wanted her to grow roots, though like Veena, there is no Ground Beneath the Feet[9] of the diasporic child.


Not many could love a dandelion, certain not you who, befriended,

The past chains- disdain- it creeps into your voice when you speak to her- you hurt the diasporic, child.


To love and to belong for you is something you measure in singulars,

So you who only gazed upon the sun, what would you know about the whole constellation of other stars that lay within the soul of the diasporic child?


To be conveyor belted, pelted by a barrage of identifiers,

Labelled, contained, framed- , “Is that the only way we have learnt to love?”-asks the diasporic child.


A corner of her mouth droops sadly, like the palm leaves outside her house and eyes glisten, gleaming globules of water,

It nestles like Arabian pearls in the cheek-hollow of the diasporic child.


Ink form English, attars from Arabia and aspect from India, named nationed, hardly natural- lands, “full of sound and fury signifying nothing[10].”

So then maybe it is we Apurva, we who are unable to understand the diasporic child.




[1] This is the definition according to the Cambridge Dictionary with an example, “a group of people who spread from one original country to other countries, or the act of spreading in this way: “Nearly two-fifths of Spain’s foreign residents come from the Latin diaspora – mostly from Ecuador and Colombia.”

[2] Tale of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles- he was prophesised to kill his father and sleep with his mother. He tries to escape this prophecy but ends up falling prey to the prophecy anyways. (Of sleeping with his mother and killing his father)

[3] The colonial name for the Tamil Nadu region

[4] Beloved of Shah Jahan

[5] Better known as genie, a spirit creature in the Arabian Nights best know in the story of Aladdin

[6] The figure of the mother India as propagated during the freedom struggle, often used to represent India

[7] Urdu name of India

[8] Also known as Surya Namashkar, a series of yoga poses as a salutation to the sun.

[9] Veena is a character in Salman Rushdie’s book, “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”

[10] Reference to the, “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech by Macbeth. It is spoken in the death of his wife, and speaks about the futility of life and everything life composes

About the author

Apurva Prasad

A literary enthusiast, avid movie watcher and amateur yoga practitioner. Always up for an open spirited discussion.

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