In Her Neighbourhood by Giriraj Kiradoo


descending into her body is going from my narrow lane to her wide open square

her body smells of the neighbourhood around the butchery
of goats and trussed-up roosters
her body has the blue yellow black colors of kites
the beat of daflis
the creaking of chairs come for repair
the gurgling of the hookah

the language I love her in
does not stay mine when written
the language she loves me in
does not stay hers when spoken
now and then
we stumble in the dialects of this city

circling around language
we see each other
touching each other’s clothes


I cannot hear or understand the prayers buried in her body
I search my body
and find no prayer there

“your body has the murmur of the last namaaz”
“that kaafirs cannot hear”

she wears my wishes like clothes to cover herself
I descend into the prayers buried in her kaafir’s body


her body grows into the whole neighbourhood
in which
I wander like a lost child among strange salons and paan-shops
in which
her mother is sorry for not yet having repaired my dafli
in which
I drink tea at her father’s shop

he wants to wash the glass I used
I wash the glass under a tap
he keeps the money in a gullak

he looks at me startled at the respect I grant him
I run from the neighbourhood or from embarrassment and fall into my room

she straightens her kurta


her father walks in the lane by my house almost lost
he has not been able to see properly for years
he has even lost his slippers
wandered far from the namazis

(tears from her eyes fall like words
on my clothes my hands)

at that very moment he passes under my rooftop room


her father checks the stitches on the dafli one last time
her mother embroiders last winter’s remembered flowers on someone else’s sheets

on their rooftop hidden among a group of kite-flying loafers
I sit drinking a beer

the night before Sahira is bathing in the open

Note: Translation into English by Rahul Soni.

Giriraj Kiradoo's poems in Hindi