escape
by anuja


I tell my brother I have a poem for him
Really just a string of words in a language
We never spoke at home
It shows me choking on my laptop
Kohl drops landing on the keyboard
Babu steals time at work to ask me what it is
I have turned off the lights
He has opened up the window
When his rubber slippers snap
He is a little boy on my back, carried home from school
When I am six and he is five
We wear the same clothes and ma can’t tell us apart
Until I ask, “Which one of us is babu?”
He comes home late with clever excuses
Pulling stories out of his pockets,
Hiding cricket balls and smudging grass stains
I fight with him on the day someone tells me
That the Third World War will start any time
Fear mongers claw at my imagination
I stay by the window that Sunday my brother is late from school
He comes home with a broken arm
It’s swollen like a radish, he never cries
We don’t fight again
He plays boy games and I quietly plan an escape
He grows a beard without my notice
I tell him I have a poem for him
And ask not to be forgotten






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