“Bhuwan K.C. jindabad” when we mean “Democracy jindabad”

Anuja Photo

-Anuja Ghimire

my teacher sends us home

with a substitute chant in which we hail an actor’s name

not slogans for democracy

I have missed school because of my tonsillectomy

and the people’s marches to the king’s palace

before the all day curfew, my father stops in the street

with the crowd watching a man’s body writhing

after a shot, he says dying is slower than in the movies

in the orders of lights out, the only thrill is street patrol men

who look like my father but guns change their faces

even in the dark, they guard the street

my brother has a fever but we all eat khichdi

faces so close to the steel plates

the sickle moon catching us through the window

is half on our foreheads, half on the pale lake of rice

(Published in Orbis: London, 2020)