After Agha Shahid Ali*
The tourist smiles - forced,
frozen in photographs.
Like a trespasser invited to tea,
the tourist holds babies like porcelain.
The tourist speaks - his speech jagged
like speed bumps on Delhi roads.
He stumbles on syllables that linger
like the aftertaste of curry leaves.
In my city, we wreath white skin
in marigold halos, welcome
foreign feet into homes
like a season-less monsoon.
Fortresses fold like doormats.
Revolutions crumble to dust
that add to Delhi’s pollution.
Face masks appear on familiar faces.
The tourist bargains on fixed prices
and stronger currency devalues artistry,
amputates hands of weavers
while tossing loose change.
The tourist says, “Na, Nahi chahiye”
and just like that there is a lineage
wiped away like Rangoli
the day after Diwali.
The tourist leaves, marigold
petals wither under his feet.
He does not look back.
*Agha Shahid Ali - The Dacca Gauzes
Kanika Ahuja, a Masters student studying English Literature, believes in the inexplicable joy of sunshines and smiles. Surrounded by stories, she weaves words into moments that cast projections like shadows on sunny days, keeping her company, always. She is a poet, a performer and an educator of poetry, working towards finding her own voice while also helping others find theirs. Someone who should never be left alone in a Stationery Store, Kanika hoards verses on sticky notes in mason jars to be set free like paper boats on rainy days. She believes in magic, and cupcakes, and can be found sprinkling cinnamon over everything.