In Nani’s House

I push my weight
against the sturdy swing-door
of Nani’s house.
My eyes catch white and grey:

Nana’s pebble garden
where we would discover
fat pieces of rock. Khadiya.

We would write our names
and make animal faces
on small slates.
My baby brother and I.

Papa isn’t here.
Mom is cutting fruit.
Inside, on her favorite chair,
Nani is chopping kaddu.
She hobbles back and forth from the kitchen.
Nana’s radio plays sitar.

My brother and I are free.
We take Khadiya and draw our future.
We wipe the details we do not like.

It is dark when we hop back inside,
pick our places at the dinner table.
I, an astronaut,
digging into mango chutney.
He, a mountain,
birthing pahadi raita.

Papa isn’t here

and we are free to dream
in Nani’s house.


Image: The Voyage of Life: Childhood, 1842, Thomas Cole, American

Kuhu Joshi

Kuhu Joshi is a poet and a development economist. She currently works at the International Food Policy Research Institute. Her writing has been published in Cocoa and Jasmine, The Elephant Journal, eFiction India, and Literati magazines. Kuhu lives in New Delhi, the city she calls home.