A post-modernist excursion into the Indian interior
I pose the question:
What is a post-
and why must
to such art-
that place me in the leather caress of an aimless yellow cab,
that inject into my forearm a dose of Warhol’s deeply
that tuck free verse into Van Gogh’s boots and
exhort the socked subaltern to speak;
that find me glossing over an edition of US Weekly and
smiling wistfully at Homi Bhabha’s son occupying a postcolonial pretension?
I respond (for I answer my own question)
(Does that make for a compelling rhetorical strategy?), holding
the phone to my ear to find Rushdie speaking in heteroglossiac tongues
tongues that I had forgotten ever existed.
tongues that can no longer pronounce
N A I
D I L L I
tongues that can no longer denounce
let alone lick the wounds
I gulp down brushed-metal orange juice
separating the pulp from the liquid
just like the weavers sift out the fine silk
just like the ministers categorize the voting population
just like the metropole once segregated my country
“Divide and rule”
That’s what Mountbatten says to Nehru who whispers into Rushdie’s ears who gesticulates at Gandhi who ululates at Mandela who makes condescending remarks about the Prophet Mohammed who receives the message and proceeds to crumple a weathered Rushdie, clenching the pages into granules of dust.
The same dust that once gathered
on its hardcover.
I now face my brother’s apparition,
the image finely calibrated to match that of Intizar Hussain,
whose Basti I frequented as a doctor with a bent stethoscope hung around my neck like the virtues and vices of Karachi hang around Kamila Shamsie’s delicate neck.
(They glisten like the rubies on a necklace, complimenting her skin tone and the rhythmic lilts of her words.)
“A Pakistani voice that resonates all...