patria — on dual identity

Poem by Eshaan Mani

Here I rest, 

Thrust between the pages 
of a book that can’t be read;
Falling but flying, 
Caught in mid-air. 

Grabbing hold of sweet patriotic nothings 
before they escape from my other ear,
I look for a way to live up to this dream
My — this — country has thrust upon me. 

Blood is red they said; I say only blue blood seems to matter. 
Peace is white they said; I say there’s piece in sinking into the rainbow —
The death of the fervent, the death of the fanatic…
Only the disaffected survive without loss. 

And then there’s me:
Prodded before I’m abandoned, 
Loudened before I’m hushed, 
Asked to say what I can see 
But never feeling like I can stand proud.

My curled, deformed body.
The weighted, patchy blanket,
Up over my burning ears.
Highlighter-yellow earbuds.
I sink into the songs of a land that runs in my blood,
The dhol keeping time with the guitar, 
the bansuri in harmony with the violin 
My bhangra rhythms clash with the waltz  —

I’m neither here nor there,
Scrounging between cold walls 
for comfort and care.

Eshaan Mani is a writer, foodie, and tennis player. They have a passion for being the voice of inspiring people and inspiring events, and they also enjoy weaving an immersive story.

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