By K. Srilata

I feel a certain ghutan, she said,
using a Hindi word I have almost forgotten
but know in my bones
in my skin,
hear in the voices of friends I have been calling in turns,
one of whom tells me she can’t breathe.

It is ghutan I see in the eyes
of the young who walk the empty streets.
It is ghutan in the playgrounds without a childhood,
in a childhood without playgrounds.

It is ghutan in the souls of old women
who stay home and stay home
and stay home,
dreaming of mangoes.

This season, I am told,
even the mango trees are heavy with ghutan.


Reproduced with permission of the author.