this post is made up of six vignettes. for all my desis, my poets, my survivors on father’s day.
scene one: dig it
when i was growing up in san diego there three indians in my high school graduating class of 1000. me, sabina and ranjit. so i kicked it with black and brown folks. mainly black. i was co-captain of my high school step team, going to bhajan’s every thursday night, sneaking the car out to fuck my three mainstay dudes in southeast, lighting an incense to the gods in my mom’s kitchen closet after taking a shower, that’s just life.
left the 619 for college. went to a school my father was working at. free. ate lunch with him almost every day of my freshman year. its the first time i’d gotten to know him as an adult. he took himself up out the family home when i was 8 years old. saw him once a month, once every three months after that. cherry from carnegie, a ghost hood just across a bridge from three rivers stadium, was my first roomate in the dorms. cherry once cried and told me how beautiful it was that i had my father in my life, because she never had hers.
i could dig it.
but for those of us who have father’s in our lives who are perpetrators of violence, keeping them in our lives in a safe way is a super-hero feat. an act of monumental compassion. confusing and mind-blowing at times. it is like fireworks. sometimes amazing. sometimes dangerous. navigation becomes key. tactical strategy. a war to keep up some semblance of family. and it is one i am honored to engage in. i’d rather engage than abandon any fucking day.
can y’all dig that?
scene two: when i think of my father
when i think of my father.
i think of a man whose intellectual momentum slung my family to america.
when i think of my father.
i think of the house he grew up in is on cinema road in gorakhpur, it has:
1. a well.
2. open sewers.
3. three floors, a courtyard, a garden, and a four story high temple, wide enough at its base for four people to sit in, knees touching where my da-da ji the zamindar challenging lawyer meditated while clients waited.
4. graffiti on the walls where my father as a child played with beakers etched his name into fate.
5. my cha-chi, two cha-cha’s, two cousin brothers, their two wives, their total four kids, my cousin sister when she’s not trapped with her wack-ass man in delhi, and a host of every day passers-by.
6. a set of slingshots to take with you on the roof to scare off the monkeys, still.
when i think of my father.
i think of a man who is a natural community organizer, he can befriend a whole city bus just on his way home from work.
i think of a man nocturnal hideous/pity us/the children. i think of the sickness of humanity, its depth. i think of the funkadelic album called: america eats its young.
i think of a man who could be at the jiggy-est function and would still listen at the knee of a story telling elder with attentive care, a man who quotes from holy texts with ease, a man tri-lingual at least, a man comfortable in the kitchen, constantly filling and emptying glass jars, pyrex containers, tupperware with grains, fruits, leftovers.
i think of a cancer survivor, a man eating away at his own gut, a man who used to ride his bike 20 miles to work, a preeminent aids researcher who worked for time magazine’s man of the year when magic johnson first came out as hiv positive.
a man who bought carrots and oranges by the bushel to make fresh juice for me and my brother.
when i think of my father, i wonder if its denial that keeps him alive. denial ain’t my style. but im glad he’s alive.
scene three: just let it all out cause you sure can’t keep it in
last night i was at:
and the scene was thick. church up in there, hands raised in testimony, hulk sized speakers booming, stars streaming in lights across the ballroom sky. earlier in the day, i cleaned house and left my apartment in hot pink and black on my way to bk pride. shoes soaked in four blocks. fast forward 5 hours, im still leaving wet puddles every where i step. so when it was time for my dancefloor poetry, i set the dripping shoes aside. danced barefoot all night.
because i woke up and it was father’s day. and the stiffening of my heart is matched by the limber of my body. balance is really such a blessing.
does anyone have a cigarette i could bum?
scene four: reflection
there’s a desi father and daughter on the front page of the sunday business section in today’s new york times. he’s the richest man in india (monetary wealth). she’s got braces. i feel reflected. i am reminded.
(pic by ruth fremson/nyt)
scene five: daughter’s day bbq one year ago today
last year on this day i was at lake temescal in oakland, ca.
signs on the road directed my folks: this way for the daughter’s day bbq!
i’d organized it with lots of help from my folks, malkia, jasmine, derrick. an alternative father’s day for women folks with fathers with issues. attendance was pretty damn good.
here’s the scene: barbeque’s blazing, sun on fire, under the tree a blanket with bush mama and her two kids holding it down in the weighted shade, shakira running around getting grown and little omani, tottering after balls. savannah brought the screaming vegan cake with my name written on it in hindi. i was leaving that town. the picnic was also a going away fundraiser. finally heading out to new york city.
thuy from law school wore a big lidded floppy hat, classic like fate. big mac gave me a photo book send off, shot outs on every page. we had a partners balloon game with only fun at stake. afterwards a few of us dipped mermaids in the lake. daughter’s day bbq, a year ago to the date.
scene six: true story
father’s day aint easy for so many. my homeboy javier, artistic director of a bay area based youth hip hop theater company called “colored ink,” put it this way in his most recent email update:
“I ask you all to send an extra prayer out to all of these kids whose fathers have been getting murdered locked up, dying in wars and because of wars. For all of the Fathers who won’t be getting honored this weekend because of the lack of responsibility, I say this to you; if you really knew the impact that a strong visible father has on their children and their community; you would have never left in the 1st place. But as you look now, you are seeing the impact by you not being there. It is never to late to make amends.”
true story jav.
happy father’s day all.
stay tuned for more from your fav political poet,