PLOT NUMBER TWO
UNDERGRADUATE LITERARY JOURNAL

IF I WEREN'T FROM BOMBAY



If I weren’t from Bombay,

I’d probably call it Mumbai.

I’d probably treasure every time I smelled the colours of the sea.

I’d never know how it is to walk out of my house

to find all seven colours of the rainbow-

and the pot of gold at the end of it.

How people tread on hot coals to grab a few coins,

only to find some on chariots flying towards it.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t know how it is to travel through time

To study in halls and connect with the dead living in the walls

To touch grainy old buildings

Each of them storybooks, novels, bestsellers,

fables of War, of Triumph, of Brotherhood.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t know the fear of almost living in a warzone

Watching the flames burn down our history

How those flames would ignite in anger

how we’d make History.

I wouldn’t see how some were cremated-

not by their sons, but by their own brothers

Garlanded with AK- 47s.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

these eyes wouldn’t wear lenses tainted with a foggy layer of condensed crime.

These ears wouldn’t be that of priests,

confessions wouldn’t begin with “Forgive me Father for I have sinned”.

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I’d probably be a better person.

A more sensitive person–

but I wouldn’t understand redemption.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t get to see the entire world holding onto each other

in a rusted, red box on wheels.

All of us from different places headed for the same destination.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t know how the city of dreams

can become a terrifying nightmare.

How these streets promising a Stairway to Heaven

so easily reroute to Hell.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I’d probably see people as made up of flesh and bone

and not how I see them now-

of good, but more bad.

Of love, and a little bit of war.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t understand the meaning of ‘unconditional love’.

Of loving even when your stomach rumbles in anger

Of finding an ‘I love you’ in the most creative of abuses

Of pulling out love in the deeply sown seeds of hatred among bustling crowds.

I wouldn’t find love in the mucchi of a paanwala

in the clubs and all night cafes giving love to the madmen and all insomniacs

in the bark of a stray dog that just wants to be heard, and loved back.

I wouldn’t find love in the streetlights at Marine Drive.

Who said we need telescopes to look at the stars?

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t hear the echoes of Om, Inshallah and Amen

spiralling in the air to become One.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t know that Twitter can be used for #NalliSilkSaris

I wouldn’t know the difference between being Modern and being Western.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t know how it is to live in a beating, pulsating heart.

     

If I weren’t from Bombay,

I wouldn’t know how to write a love letter.

     

– Saranya Subramanian

Ashoka University