Road to Patel Nagar
Maybe it’s an Indian thing,
but my father can’t talk
without using his hands.
My earliest memories of
the roads of Delhi were
me sitting on the backseat of this
ancient, maroon-colored Lamby Polo scooter
that my father used to drive.
To get it started, it had to be kicked
twice, thrice, maybe.
It made a hell of a noise.
You could say it was one of a kind.
My father loved driving it.
He also loved telling me the nuts and bolts of
navigating Delhi—where each place was
and where each road led to,
what was the shortest route and
what took the longest.
Which bus number to take and
which one to avoid.
He’d tell me all this, all while
using his hands.
Sometimes with his left hand in the air,
sometimes his right.
His hands off the steering wheel,
shifting from left to right.
Come Patel Nagar and he’d switch gears.
He’d tell me this is where he lived
as a child, right after the partition.
Renting, a family of 12 in two rooms,
almost the whole colony
made up of refugees.
He’d tell me the same story
each time we drove through
Patel Nagar, each time
we drove through its streets.
The same story, each time
The same start, the same end.
Never once missing a beat.
Now with his old house gone and
the old scooter gone, those
slightly frail and wrinkled hands
of his still dance
on the road to Patel Nagar—the road
to his heart,
the shortest route there was.
Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently residing in Macau. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of Burnt Rotis, With Love (Les Éditions du Zaporogue, 2016), long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. Her work has been published widely, most recently in The Ofi Press, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Chiron Review, HEArt Online and TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism. She tweets at @bprerna. More here: http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/.