Touch is Memory

    By Shamayita Sen

    Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night staggering like an old woman with dementia, tripping over bits of memories:

    his calloused hands protruding like wings coil snake-like on the seams of my slip-over curtailing my movement.

    Touch has memory;
    but this touch is a metaphor for my silence.

    I shudder to think
    I am to respond to my father’s doctor
    groping me in his cabin
    as a price for Baba’s well-being.

    Now, I wake up
    to my midriff stiffening with
    acute pain.
    The memory of the touch
    writhing my gut.

    I have carried this long enough
    in nightmares and body aches,
    in ointments and prayers silently mourning
    like the colourless liquid
    dripping into Baba’s veins.

    He passed away a year later, a relative told me, afflicted by the same disease that infested my father’s lungs.

    But there is no relief.

    In my mind, that evening
    still hangs moist like air heavy on my shoulders;
    my chest turning stone
    under cold stream.

    Shamayita Sen is a Delhi based poet, lecturer and PhD research candidate (Department of English, University of Delhi). She is the author of For the Hope of Spring: hybrid poems (Hawakal Publishers, 2020), and editor of Collegiality and Other Ballads: feminist poems by male and non-binary allies (Hawakal Publishers, 2021). Her research articles and poems have appeared in various avenues in India and abroad. She can be reached at: shamayita.sen@gmail.com.

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