Muslims On Trains

My Abba is searching for his daughters

He has forgotten his daughters

His daughters now call him, Baba.

From Abba to Baba

It’s a journey from sanity to insanity

From Indian to trying hard to be Indian.


My Ammi triple checks

My Bhaia’s lunchbox

And she writes on the box in capital letters-

Egg curry and Dim-Bhat in brackets

with a marker pen.

She is always numb if someone

mistakes egg curry for gosht!

My Bhaia is a daily commuter on a local train.

My mother doesn’t know

They can even mistake palang saag as gosht!


My bhabi scoops out each beard

Till my brother screams in pain

She is terrified if someone

Finds her husband’s name!


Sitting by the window side

I judge every co-passenger

Every loud creaking sound of the engine

mortifies me.

The ticket taker asks my name

I manage to mumble the first name

in unstressed syllables dropping the title.


Closing my eyes I pray for my station.

But which language should I pray, dear brothers?



*Abba : Father

*Bhaia: Brother

*Dim Bhat: Egg Curry

*Gosht: Muslims call any meat gosht, it’s a Persian word.

*palang saag: Spinach


Moumita Alam is a poet from West Bengal. Her poetry collection, The Musings of the Dark was published in 2020. The book has about a hundred poems written in protest against the humanitarian crisis from the abrogation of article 370, the Delhi riots, and the Shaheen Bagh movement to the unbearable sufferings of the migrant labourers due to the unplanned COVID – induced lockdown.

Featured image illustration by Pariplab Chakraborty.