People ‘Like That’

when i joke and ask her/ what if i was in love with a girl,/ it is not a joke either.

when my grandmother jokes/ about getting me married to a boy/ who is fairer & smarter & definitely
taller than i can ever be,/ it is not a joke.

when i joke and ask her/ what if i was in love with a girl,/ it is not a joke either.

she adjusts her spectacles/ and laughs a hesitant laugh./ i laugh the same hesitant laugh, except mine/ is
more hesitance than laughter.

the day after dozens of queers were shot,/ my grandmother pointed to the newspaper/ and asked me
what happened./ she does not understand English/ but feels the necessity to label/ little glass bottles full
of spices/ only in English./ It is not her language/ of daily use/ but it has ruled over/ everyday she has
lived.

i tell her about what has happened/ and she stops eating when I say the word out loud, /‘gay’./ i stop
eating too./ she tells me she/ once knew a person ‘like that’./ i nod and resume eating,/ hoping i can
also swallow the lump/ that threatens to explode inside my throat./

I wonder who that person was,/ but I don’t ask.

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Swastika Jajoo

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