Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – A Poem Written During the Metro Commute, Vikaspuri
Poetry in the city.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
She is an engineer in a Noida-based multinational, but has been working from her home in Vikaspuri since March last year, because of you-know-what. But Jyoti Vij Ahuja is also a writer, who exploited the pandemic by compiling her short stories into a self-published e-book, Marital Bliss & Other Things.
Ms Ahuja, 39, wrote these stories during her two-hour daily metro trip from home to work and back, she says in a WhatsApp video chat. The now-suspended commute was the most creative aspect of her day—it would give her ideas for prose and also for occasional poetry. “Looking at strangers’ faces, I would try to imagine the stories behind them.” Her writing pad was a tablet—husband Gagan’s gift.
Today she shares a poem she wrote when brother, Vikas, was starting a new life in Europe. (While posing for a snap, her younger son, Samarth, tiptoes from behind, and photo-bombs the portrait.)
If I were you, I wouldn’t have left as soon as I had turned twenty-one,
Leaving pale memories at home and its sullen owners comforting themselves,
Dusting the dirt off your little belongings, in a hope that you may need them when you return.
If I were you, I wouldn’t have chosen a place where sun shines only for a few months in a year,
Unlike our own land where the tan is not a statement but a by-product.
If I were you I wouldn’t have needed to do currency conversions in my head, every time I had stopped by an unknown roadside joint to have a meal.
If I were you, I wouldn’t have had the heart to make space for the immigrants from that hostile neighbouring land of ours.
But there, they were as attached to you as if they belonged to the same bloodline.
That hard-to-ignore resemblance: of the same colour, of the familiar dialect or that twin expression of brotherhood.
If I were you, I wouldn’t have mustered the courage to stand for my dreams: To make big in the world of strangers, miles away from my birthplace.
Getting glances, some loathsome, some surprised, others plain indifferent but never familiar.
How I wish sometimes that I were you, so that I could have just for once
Felt the pains and joys of leaving the beloved motherland.
Left behind but never forgotten, memories etched deep inside my soul.