(Optional)

If it wasn’t for the Indian government
I swear I won’t even remember my father’s name
They’re obsessed and keep asking for it,
For every important document of my life.

Nowadays I have to write ‘Late’ as part of his name
And often I’d hear a polite cough or an ‘I’m sorry.’

And I’d think, if you should feel sorry
Then feel sorry for that second name,
There, under optional.
Mother’s name – Malsawmi Hauhnar
Superfluous, apologetic.

Years of sweat and worry and weary
And alone.
(Optional)
I’ve seen her smile as long as my eyes were open
My ears heard her sob when they closed
(Optional)
Her feet disfigured from running
So that my stomach never knew hunger
And that my lessons never ceased so that I’d be better.
(Optional)
Yet at each rung that I climb,
They ask for my father’s name.

I’ve seen him only twice
Once, when I was still too young
My memory confused his face
With a picture of someone else on the wall.
Then years later, when he was ill and dying.
He wasn’t even awake to know I was there.
Yet, it his name they ask for

My dear government,
Know that this has been my curse,
It is always with heartbreaking guilt
That I put his name before hers.

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Lalnunsanga Ralte Written by:

Lalnunsanga Ralte is a poet based in Shillong. He loves basketball.

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