About the Author:
Dipika Mukherjee is a writer and sociolinguist. Her debut novel, Thunder Demons (Gyaana, 2011) was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize; it has been republished as Ode to Broken Things (Repeater, UK) and distributed by Penguin/Random House worldwide in 2016. Her short story collection, Rules of Desire (Fixi, Malaysia) was published in 2015. She won the 2014 Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award for Literary Excellence as well as the Platform Flash Fiction Prize in 2009. Her edited anthologies on Southeast Asian fiction include Silverfish New Writing 6 (Silversfish, 2006) and The Merlion and Hibiscus (Penguin, 2002). Her poetry chapbook, The Palimpsest of Exile, was published by Rubicon Press (Canada) in 2009. Her writing appears in publications around the world including Asia Literary Review, World Literature Today, Postcolonial Text and South Asian Review. She is Contributing Editor for Chicago Quarterly Review and Jaggery and curates an Asian/American Reading series in Chicago.
Migration, Exile… These Are Men’s Words
Migration, Exile… these are men’s words.
Women have always been torn up
like rice seedlings to be replanted
in marriage (or another name);
my language weeps its wedding melodies
in many dialects, many tunes
In my next life, O God, don’t make me a daughter:
Exile, Migration… what meaning then?
I am no woman-poet-migrant-in-exile.
Keep your labels, please.
I am not tamed by toil, shoulders stiff
with xenophobia; nor a person of color
shunted to workshops where grievances
grow in collegiality. I am a nomad,
homeless, rootless, I am the zephyr –
the vayu that breezes past rooted trees.
I swish past suburbs, four-bedroomed homes,
theatered basements, the two-car garage;
nothing stops me as I skim by brooks,
snake to large rivers, course by course,
I am fed by a hunger, sharper than
life, to live in this; to suck bare
a skin, tender as peeled lychees, always
terrified that there may not be another
rebirth to appeal to.
For now, there is this. New
beginnings, another journey,
roads unraveling untraveled.
I find my muse as much
as she finds me, without
home or temple, veena
in hand, book in another,
in the feminine infinite we
make our home.