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The Urdu word that means good

and is said to wish your well-being,

is often used as an act of letting go.


The letting-it-be when a thought

that is somewhere between your lips

and the tongue, would rather be unsaid.


On a good day I would tell you that it means

to choose the being-well of the conversation –

that relationship – over the being-right of you.

Somewhere, ‘???’ would be the name of my home

—a place for love and light, where opinions exist

as a mosaic floor, and not half-eaten sentences.


Khair, I must stop lying—my tongue usually finds

the word, the way my hand looks for a light switch

when the room goes dark—to erase hazy uncertainty.

Image credit: the author


Growing up, Urdu constituted a much larger chunk of the daily-speak at home than what would qualify as Hindi. The distinction of this duality only came to my attention only after leaving home, but never managed to reached my vocabulary, and so the interpretation of the word “Khair” in this poem possibly is more of a vernacular usage, than a literal meaning.

Kartikay is a 27-year-old bilingual poet from Kanpur (UP) with his heart by the sea in Mumbai. Returning to poetry in 2020, he has been writing with The Quarantine Train – traversing voices, themes and forms in English or Hindustani. His original work has been featured in Narrow Road Journal, The Alipore Post, deCenter Magazine, and Gulmohar QuarterlyThe Usawa Literary Review featured a poem translated by him.