Bapu, happy birthday!
I looked for you today,
To wish you.
Did you hear?
Mother has wed someone else.
We have a new father now.
At least many of us do.
Come back father,
Some of us are orphans.
Your children are fighting.
We can’t decide what to eat for dinner.
We are playing with knives and matches.
Have you heard of this game?
‘The wrong meat, the last meal’?
‘The wrong prayer, the last rites’?
Come watch us play in this broken home.
Now some of my brothers and sisters
Must find foster parents.
To stay, we must be on a list,
Mother is silent.
Who birthed us at midnight?
All those years ago.
We took to the streets to find you,
Protest poetry like whale songs,
For you to find your way to us.
But then Mother called us back inside.
An evil virus is spreading, she said.
We were scared, and clanged vessels,
To drive the demons away.
She closed the doors.
Some who had flown the nest,
Migrant birds, they had to come home.
On the way, they fasted. But not by choice.
They marched. But not for freedom.
Some of your children became roadkill.
We thought maybe you would come
To their funeral.
We lit some incense,
The special scent of apathy.
I am not sure mother cried.
Rupavardhini B.R. lives on coffee, and is a former hill dweller who will not stop complaining about the heat in the plains much to the annoyance of her south Indian family.