“Nanima” by Alysha Mohamed


My inheritance from my grandmother:
broken Gujarati,
saffron flavoured phone calls,

Tonguing foreign words
stuck to the roof of my mouth
instead of gliding off my lips
the way they are
supposed to —

I wish my language wasn’t buried
before I knew how to speak.

Fresh puris in the morning
her leather palms, still soft in mine
kneading yellow flour

Bapa always has seconds, even when he’s not hungry
I don’t think he’ll ever feel full.

She gave me other things too,
veins bursting with deep blue
stories of suffering

Of losing her father at eleven
watching her mother’s
knees buckle, soul split
stripped of her childhood before
she learned to ride a bike

I feel her bones under my fresh skin,
eyes a reflection of hers
before the light began to dim.

We have the same crack at the bottom
of our heels
my skin broken after running away
from every lover who tried to cage me
hers from running into the arms
of a man with a voice like her father’s.

Sometimes she is so full of love
the only thing she can do is sob
and run prayer beads through her fingers,
murmuring to a God that always whispers to her
but never speaks to me

Most often, though, she cries because
there is a part of her so homesick
she will always feel lost;

We have this in common

Alysha Mohamed is a poet, playwright, and journalist currently studying at Queen’s University. Her work has been published in several magazines on campus, and her first play, “My Hands Were Made For This”, placed third in Toronto Fringe’s New Play Competition. She loves poems that burn, heal, and subvert all at once. This is her first official poetry publication.

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