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Amitava Kumar Poems for the I.N.S. ? The cigarette smoke lingered in the blue Minnesota chill as my friend said, "Td like to talk to you of other things. Not politics again but things like whether you are lonely." "What could be more political than the fact that I'm lonely, that I am so far away from everything I've known?" But, the consular here has other queries. Do you have property in India? Land? Relatives? Anything? "Write down, officer: The yellow of mustard blossoms stretching to the blue horizon. My grandmother's tears when she asks me what good is your learning when it steals you from my embrace. In our old house, with its dampness, the music of my sister's laughter. Four friends who bring news of a new canal that has been dug by the villagers. The bend in the river near the tall trees where the spirits of my ancestors are consecrated. Women's voices from across the waters that I have been hearing since my childhood. The smell of hot pepper being roasted over a naked fire. All of this from that one brief hour in November during which my friend had asked her question." ? "And how do I know you are going to come back that you aren't going 10the minnesota review to stay there in the States?" The officer is young, wearing a tie. He turns my passport around till he has my picture upside down, the loose change for my bus-ticket rolling out of my shirt-pocket into his lap. Ill A Marine walks around us, his attention cocked. What does he want me to do? "Rambo, Rambo." I shout exultantly. But, that's too recent, let me mine the archetypes. "Hey Charlie, Give me a Lucky Strike. Some gum? Want a good fuck? Very cheap. Dirty magazine?" I do nothing, I say nothing. In the garden outside the peacocks call. I sip the coffee and plot my moves. Now am I doing what he wants me to do? rv "Do you intend to overthrow the government of the United States by force or fraud?" An old man who wants to visit a son in New Jersey wants me to help him with this question on the form. A friend tells me later of someone who believing it was an either/or question tried to play it safe and opted for the overthrow of the government by fraud. V "You can't trust them," one officer says. I'm prepared to bet he is from Brooklyn. There is no response from the other one. He is not angry, just sad that I now work in his country. Kumarn This quiet American has pasted a sheet with Hindi alphabets On his left, on his right there is a proverb from Punjab. "You just can't trust them," the first one repeats, shaking his wrist to loosen his heavy watch. The one sitting down now raises his weary eyes. "Did you, the first time you went there, intend to come back?" "Wait a minute," I say, "did you get a visa when you first went to the moon? Fuck the moon, tell me about Vietnam. Just how precise were your plans there, you asshole? And did you when you went to Panama the first time know that you'd come back, guns blazing, a century later? And this," I fist my cock when I say this, "and this is what I think of your trust. Do you understand that every time a doctor, teacher, engineer, or scholar comes to the United States from India you save more on bills than what you and Charlie here would be able to pay till the year two thousand and four? So that your saying that we can't be trusted is like the owner shouting his worker's lazy after he has stripped his skin and taken his soul. He's you hear me? Hear me because I want this fact to be stored like a bullet in your heart." Maybe I did say all of this, and it was fear that I saw in the officer's eyes when...


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pp. 9-11
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