Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poetry: Daljit Nagra, "Look We Have Coming to Dover!"

I came across Daljit Nagra while visiting Sepia Mutiny today. Similar to Bushra Rehman, but with more of a Brit angle, Nagra's poetry deals with identity and second-generation South Asians in the diaspora. (THaS LiKE My FAvORiTe ShiT sO CLeaRLy I wAS LikE, OMG~!!!) His book Look We Have Coming to Dover! is named after the title poem, a response to Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach". Here's the poem of his Sepia put up:

Rapinder Slips into Tongues…
by Daljit Nagra

Dad and me were watching the video—
Amar, Akbar, Anthony. It’s about three
brothers separated after the family is parted
by gangsters. You can get it with subtitles, Miss.
When Anthony, who grows up in a Catholic home,
begged Christ for the address of his real parents
then crossed himself, I jumped off our royal red
sofa, joined Anthony with his prayer:
Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary,
four-quartering myself then curtseying a little.

Dad just stared at me, knocking his turban side
to side that I almost thought it would come off
which it normally does when he’s doing his press-ups
and his face goes mauve. Instead he took off
his flip-flop (the one with a broken thong),
held it in the air, shouting in ‘our’ language,
Vat idiot! If you vant to call on Gud,
call anytime on anyvun of our ten gurus,
Do you tink is white Gud’s wife your mudder?

Dad’s got a seriously funny way Miss,
sometimes he cries, and says he’s going to give me
to a Sikh school, a proper school. That’s why
I did what my cousin Ashok does at our local
temple — while you were all doing hail mary
to end registration, I first locked my hands,
knelt down, prayed with this ditty we do on Sundays,

imagined the Golden Temple and our bearded gods
to your up-on-the-cross one, then roared:
Wahay Guru!
Wahay Guru!
Wahay Guru!
Like that.

For me, the jury's still out on the italicized Daddy Talk Funny in Broken English stuff but I haven't had time to read more of his work and form a real opinion. I guess I just really liked the reference to one of my favorite movies: Amar, Akbar, Anthony.

I mean, Amitabh, Vinod, and Rishi in one fillum??? Sick. You know who else likes Amar, Akbar, Anthony??

This dude who's picture I found while doing my daily Google image search of random Indian names, like Anand and Vishal, specifically to find pictures of dudes that look like this. Every now and then you get a sweet picture of an Indian dude pretending to be on a phone because phones are so not-3rd-World. I mean, I don't know if Vijay here really likes the movie but I figure prolly. Is dat racist?

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