January 7, 2016

Mishal Agha

BLOOD BROTHERS

I was nine when Partition began.
Ammi had sent me to Meena Bazaar

to buy buttermilk and chili powder.
On my way back I cut through

a side street to pass a cinema,
whose posters I liked.

I loved films, though
I had never seen one—

Baba thought films were
more senseless than sweets.

But that day, I did not inspect
those glossy paragons of

Anglo achievement. Instead,
my eye alighted on a Hindu

and a Muslim, dog-fighting in
the grey dust of the street.

Gawkers had clumped round
the two men flailing wildly,

tearing each other with Kukris;
furling and unfurling like

crimson flags, entwined
snakes. Their wounds embraced.

Within that crucible of madness
they had become blood brothers.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002