by Thai Youth Express

Inside the sari shop we are sitting.

Touching and talking to the vibrant stitchings

Of fabrics long -stretched – as if to the River and back,

With which my hands make contact, 

And I feel myself come alive.

Of every colour I see, the next one is better;

Canary-mint with an explosion of heather,

Black-blood with the scent of bitter-sweet paan,

Sangria-grey like an old woman’s last days –

When all that exists has been sought

And gracefully washed away.

Designs and demonstrations of Banaras’ history.

The people can be seen singing and dancing

To rhythmic melodies of their rich, old stories

Of a time when the country came to a beginning;

When my father was yet to be born,

And my mother, yet to be living.

In another moment, I live elsewhere.

Back home in the city of the faraway me,

Sitting and talking to all the distant things,

Feeling out of place in a country I was born in.

But in this shop, I am sitting.

Playing with the cousins for a long time I won’t see.

The marriage is tomorrow, the reception the day after –

And here I sit with my sister, choosing my mother’s sari.

I will travel around Varanasi, breathing in its air

While the temples and drivers surrender to their prayers.

I will search the world and seek wonderful things,

But nothing as eye -opening as what has come to define me

Here: in my mother’s city – Varanasi. 

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