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Kalkatiya

ek bhai raha—to ohi chut geil, baap ke sanghe.
ta oke ka malum he ke thagle hamke?

This is why I am here: my mother sent a boy
to fetch me, to clean rice with her in town. At dusk

she asked the emissaries, “How much
for a day’s toil?” They carried us away to a dock

and locked us down. Paid in irons, we tore our throats
with screams. We banged Kidderpore Dock’s doors bloody

and broke our bangles. Waiting in the dark, the crimson
ship harbored; the arkot tricked us into boarding,

“You are going home—” and then the grey of monochrome
waves washing the bitter herbs of our bodies

clean of caste and kin.


“I had a brother—but left him with my father. How could he know we were kidnapped?”
Language in Indenture: A Sociolinguistic History of Bhojpuri-Hindi in South Africa by Rajend Mesthrie

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Published in various journals and the author of two chapbooks, na bad-eye me (Pudding House Press 2010) and na mash me bone (Finishing Line Press 2011), Rajiv Mohabir earned his MFA in creative writing and literary translation from Queens College, CUNY. Presently he is pursuing a PhD in English and creative writing at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.