(First appeared in Pear Drop)
“Sundar Mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vichaara ho!
Dulla Bhatti walla ho!”
Catching me by surprise,
sang my father, in Punjabi on the phone,
when I called on Lohri – a harvest festival.
Excited like a young boy whose Christmas came early,
he sang the folk song that had been till then
resting on his lips for years,
until one fine afternoon
it finally awoke from siesta,
until it finally erupted from his mouth,
like a ticking bomb that suddenly explodes
after it failed to detonate.
Its first casualty – My virgin ears
that bled in joy.
The sound of the long lost folk song
pierced through my ears and into my soul.
When my father sang,
my every heartbeat danced
to the tune of ‘Dulla-Bhatti’
in perfect rhythm,
as if I knew it all along
even when I didn’t.
Papa, why did you never sing this song in front of me before?
Why did you never teach me? I asked.
He paused, thought for a while and said, I don’t know.
Post Partition things never remained the same.
Though the wise old trees of Partition,
now divided, are to be found on both sides of the border,
holding secrets of the unknown, and
many stories of the bygone era,
the horrors of humanity,
the roots of these trees
they will intermingle.
And somehow, someway,
will find their way,
will find us, and
will not let us forget
nor our roots.
Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. It is available for purchase from – http://bit.ly/1TZwA30 For more information – http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/