a letter to delhi

delhi, you are a ghost. I hear your voice — conversations I can’t tune out, the auto rickshaws’ whirring motor, songs on night time radio. and I feel your stare on my face, brazen, burning.

you see me, but I can’t see you.

your every turn is the same. you are strangers’ fingers on my shoulders, the push and pull of a tide of bodies driving me to the edge of myself. you are streets I can never know in the dark, where home is a hotel and an address I can’t remember.

your grey sky is oppressive, an ever-present hold against my throat. your heat is a slap in the face when I can only turn the other cheek, your constant scream of traffic a sound that never fades to the background.

the only you I grasp for is a you that no longer exists, stored away in the memory of a me that no longer exists. and as you go, you take parts of me with you.

the sleepy afternoons on the school bus home, the weekends spent riding my bicycle with training wheels on. the exhilaration of making the turn on the twisty slide at the playground, and the cool breeze in my face at the back of the auto rickshaw.

the only comfort remaining is the bitter trace you leave behind. while I can’t love you again, at least hatred is only a step away from the love I used to feel, back when you were my whole world.

with you, hate is as close as I’ll ever come to love.


Header image Aquib Akhter on Unsplash.

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