The second archival pick for this month is from our Assistant Editor. The poem was first published in The Aleph Review, Vol. 5 (2021).
I wade through winter in Lahore, not sure whether to suffocate in the smog or to drown.
Grateful to touch base with my inner goddess, for the Indian soil that moulds my Pakistani body, for a Punjab that unifies at the juncture of my waist. Memories of Gujrat shimmer through my hair when the sun beats against it, glistening with badam roghan and sarson, the aromas indistinguishable between here and across the border. The Kashmiri on my tongue burns pink like the chai, the flecks on my skin, pistachios that pepper the surface. Pepper? Masala? Spitfire tongue no less hot than the turn of the spit. Hot like bullets shot across the Line of Control. Control? We have none. Agency is a word for a place.
My people (are) brown skinned, tight-lipped, not letting anything slip, wrapped in abayas, concealed by the Jinnah cap, clap-back against imperialistic designs, neocolonialism, occupation—except China-Pak friendship zindabaad.
Kennie Ting is a writer, historian and photographer in Singapore who is fascinated by the history and heritage of Asian port cities. His books include Singapore 1819—A Living Legacy and The Romance of the The Grand Tour —100 Years of Travel in Southeast Asia. Ting is also the Director of Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum, national museums that explore interactions between civilisations and peoples in Asia.