my grandmother speaks of death candidly:

how jealous she is of those of us fortunate
to wilt across the ocean, so close to the
ganges, so familiar with the ritual of it all — 
the body in decay, unfurling like a prayer
in a language we have forgotten but still
somehow grasp in our bones

my grandmother’s honesty is unparalleled:
lost the inertia, the second guess
with the hair, the posture
so when she tells me that we should
wear the genders
our parents dressed us at birth
so when she tells me that
we choose to be queer because we
are selfish because we
love ourselves so much that we
hate our mothers

i believe her the way
i believe in those prayers:
a truth i have forgotten the language
to feel

you see
lately i have been thinking about dying
thinking about a body with less hair, 
less posture, less pretense
who i would call first? will i be reading
queer theory? 

my grandmother tells me that she
has never wanted friends
because she always had us

when she got too old to walk she
moved in with my mother in this house
this place where i grew up with parati

and a love less ostentatious
less vocal, more
“how is your digestion” more “what can i make you?”

but i want to tell my grandmother that
she is wrong. tell the woman who lived partition that she has been colonized. want to recycle words like patriarchy and system and revolution convince her that we used to have no language for our genders and our bodies just like our love want to tell her that
the prayers she recites in her bones
were scripted, like her death, like this
family

but sometimes i remember what it felt like:
before foucault, before spivak
before coming out, before selfish
before grownup, before activism

growing up with my grandparents
in our house and learning all those stories
about gods, and boons, and an era long ago
and maybe they weren’t true
but we hummed along anyway
a quiet faith that
felt bigger than the ocean that swallowed us and spit us out in this land
with its pornographic love and
stale conclusions

so maybe
this love ain’t true, so maybe this family ain’t true, so maybe
i am not proud of being queer
because i am afraid of dying
surrounded by comrades and maybe lovers
so unfamiliar with the ritual of it all
so maybe i am not proud of being queer
because i want to be her grandson
so maybe i am not proud of being queer
because i miss that warmth, that hum, that prayer 

so maybe i will deepen my voice at home
so maybe i will not speak about the lovers and demonstrations
so maybe i will leave you if you do not allow my mother to move in with us
so maybe i will not be your queer
because that means i cannot be her son

my grandmother gets tired when
we speak too long.
(i do not blame her)

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