NS Kumar

India

Message to Readers

Do tell me what you think about the piece! I'd love to get peer reviews from you, read your comments, and see where I can improve in my writing.

Immigrant Goes Back

March 27, 2021

Why does the sky appear black from the airplane
even though it's sweltering noon on the ground?
Tell me it's the city mourning my departure-
the sun has taken some time out 
to weep.

Streetlights below glitter blandly like ants
in a line, or the words of a poem. Unaware
of the world around them.
Oh city of facades!
Tell me that you loved me when I sat in your cafes,
breathed your air, walked your streets. 

I know I wasn't born to you. I know my parents
lived in your shacks to earn bread and were waiting
to leave your torturous corporate holes. I know that I walked
to school in your streets with the knowledge that I didn't 
belong. I couldn't stay long. Yet tell me you loved me
through your polluted air.

Tell me to not forget following 
tour guides down your creeks, memorizing 
the veins of your roads- the ones that clogged
in the November rain. We'd dawdle hip-deep in water
down your zebra crossings,
while men in fluorescent orange boiler suits
pumped the water into their tipsy tankers.

I go back to a home I do not know, because I spent
all my life in pursuit of you.
Do you know how many friends I leave behind,
incubated in your belly?
Do you know an apartment now sits naked 
and scarred in your gully?
I wish a crowd gathered at the airport
to wave me goodbye. I wish you grounded
my airplane. I wish you brought in a storm 
and wailed that you would never let me go.







I left with a one-way ticket,
a suitcase, and a duty-free bag.
An official-looking man waved me
up the stairway into the big bird.
The bird sped up, took off, 
and flew away.

It was a sunny afternoon.
As  a person who spent most of my childhood in a city which was not, according to my passport, my hometown, I wanted to make sense of my feelings and describe the city on the day that I left. I only remember some fine details of the city now; I've forgotten most of my life there (and it's only been under a year since the move happened!). Sometimes I also wonder if some some of my memories of the city are just works of my imagination. So instead of completely adhering to the prompt here, I decided to make a fictional version of my (old) adopted hometown and peppered it with some of my experiences. I'd love to hear what you think about my poem!

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8 Comments
  • lulu.mae

    This is just so perfect - the emotion really shines through in this!


    about 1 month ago
  • Zirong

    "I wish a crowd gathered at the airport/to wave me goodbye. I wish you grounded/my airplane. I wish you brought in a storm/and wailed that you would never let me go."

    oh my, I just can't -- this piece, especially the last three stanzas, made my heart ache so much.


    about 1 month ago
  • anemoia by a thread

    i was there. your words took me to a place i've never been, and i wanted to linger. beautifully written, and congrats on Monday Musings!


    about 1 month ago
  • Writing4Life

    This is absolutely amazing! Lots of beautiful, descriptive language; congrats on Monday Musings! It's well deserved :)


    about 1 month ago
  • Avril

    Oh this is so beautiful. It's brilliant how you address the city in the poem, like you're talking to it personally. It feels like a love song to your old hometown! "Tell me that you loved me when I sat in your cafes/breathed your air, walked your streets" - those lines are gorgeous!!


    about 1 month ago
  • ~madeline~

    Wow yeah, this is really impressive. Like Anne said, I can see why this piece was picked. The descriptions you used filled my mind with a picture clear enough that I could see even parts you didn't include. Great job!


    about 1 month ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Wow, this is a phenomenal piece. You tell your story so vividly. I can see why this was chosen to be featured today. Great work!


    about 1 month ago
  • Anna WtW

    NS Kumar, this is so beautiful!!! Gave me chills. I love what you did with the prompt - I get what you mean about leaving a place behind and the haze of memory makes it feel almost imagined. And I love love love how you address the city directly, and the series of questions you ask it at the end.

    Some of my favorite lines are "Streetlights below glitter blandly like ants/in a line, or the words of a poem" and "We'd dawdle hip-deep in water/down your zebra crossings,/while men in fluorescent orange boiler suits/pumped the water into their tipsy tankers." and the poignant "Yet tell me you loved me/through your polluted air." Lovely.

    Just my two cents, but I think you could end on the line "and wailed that you would never let me go." and cut the last stanza. Those wishes are such a powerful note to end on!


    about 2 months ago