He says he’s never seen me.
This is what happens when
You live too long abroad—not
Even your neighbours know
Of your existence.

Later he tells me
That his son is a singer, now famous
And that he will give me a cassette
Of his music. He remembers
That my mother gave many books
To his son when he was younger,
And this helped him to succeed.

A group of boys come in and ask
For credit, and he shooes them off,
Yelling abuse. Later, he refuses money
For the ice-cream, insisting its on him.
My mother, alarmed, says: “But you
Are a businessman. And we have
To come here again to buy things.
We cannot take your goods without
Payment.” She throws the money


As I walk down the streets
Of Handigaon, my hands
Tucked into my mother’s arms,
She greets the people down
The street. They know her
For a lifetime.

She leads me through a back way,
past garbage dumps, and inside
the hollowed tunnel of an old house,
The archway the structure
Left standing, while all the rest
Of it lies in cobwebs and skeletons
Of wooden frames, and out again

We come to the bright street,
Where an old man sells ice-cream.
She asks for two for fifteen rupees
Each. The shopkeeper peers
At me and asks if I am her daughter.