Twenty years old and currently a final year student of English Literature at Delhi University, Tanya Singh is attempting to find her voice in the three different languages she speaks: Punjabi, the one she was born in; Hindi, the language of her state and the outside self; and English,
borrowed from a colonial homeland and the one she is currently choosing to write in. She also actively believes in the magic of music.
My stories about her start with—
“She lived in a building of red sand stones,
And it made it easier to enjoy summer in her house.
But I touched her, and her hands were coal.
The ends of my fingers simmered and smoldered.
Orange and grey.
The fruits of our labor consistently failed
To be plucked from the tree of our heads.”
How strange I remarked to you one evening
When you sat with your legs crossed on the Veranda.
How strange, I repeated,
How strange that it’s not December yet
And our house is already cold.
The time here, in my part of the world,
Lies terrified and traumatized.
The time here is judged by footfalls on grass and
By the crunch
Of the brown leaves on the pavements of the University roads.
The time here my dear one misses your punctured hairline,
And the brows framing the deceit of your eyes.
When I meet people
These days, I tell them about the prayer
That I learned when I was 5.
This prayer, no longer occupies a space on my tongue but
Stubbornly squats on the right hand corner of my temple.
And when Papa says,
Let’s remember the dead today,
I push this prayer out on my brown palms
And bring them together in front of my bowed head.
On Saturday I cut my hair again.
I think the time here,
Is measured by the shorn hair collected into a bin.
About you, this city never had a dilemma.
Dilli never gave you drops of its
Yamuna even in the monsoon,
When you came for the tasting.
All this grief about departure,
About cigarette smoke clinging
To the metal of my jewelry,
This secondhand analysis of my sweater cuffs
And woolen caps and of our stories even,
All this my love I think are things
We could wear around our necks.
Meanwhile please forgive me for writing over your words in this Postcard.
Dilli - Native term for Delhi