My father, vivacious—
a mouth full of leaves and amrut,
splurting and gushing between the
crooks in his teeth, a call to the
boy who punched him square in the
face in a brawl on the streets of
the nuts he cracked while playing cards,
while dealing empty cigarette boxes,
a love song played on his flute, the
low thrum of his lips against the wood.
My father, fastidious—
hands coated in grease and roughened
against age-old rust, mechanical parts
lined between his palms like the silver
of his tongue, the banter and skill of a
laborer, his father’s craft.
And his fingers grace my own,
roughened pads rubbing over soft skin.
Look at the difference, beta, he says
with that familiar tilt of tone, my
large palms pressed against his beard.
He tells me I have blacksmith’s hands,
the legacy of a thousand men and women
under the beating sun, sweat growing
under the brow while the women’s
scarves stick to their skin.
My father, religious—
the deep tone of his recitation flooding the halls,
reverberating against our closed doors in the night,
his hands held together in prayer, his lips pressed
against our cheeks, while we rest and he waits for
his nightly meeting with the Lord.
At night, the angels watch over us while
my father’s heart burns like a flame, the candle
burning in the dark.
My father, selfless—
a mature heart more than willing to mend ours,
scarred and wizened by age, the years spent for
our favor and care. The hands that nurtured me
through the dark, fed me with grace, and held me
through tears that wracked my soul.
When I ask about his youth, he tells me about the
bygone days spent lazing under trees, chasing his
first love with a wooden flute and fighting with the boys
in the streets. Sometimes he laughs of his own accord,
a distant memory coming back to him in the form of
my siblings’ endless banter, the silver that coats our
It’s like water, he says,
watching his first grandchild toddle
towards him. A past that ebbs and flows
with the salt of Time, a journey that we
experience across several lifetimes—
our younger selves leaping through
time and into the bodies of our children,
just waiting to start anew.