Road to Patel Nagar


  For Papa



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, 

my heart

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 

every 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: