Dear Yogi Ji, Prayagraj Ain’t My Home, Leave My Allahabad Alone

Hundreds like me will feel homeless. Because home is the memory, home is the name.

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Cameraperson: Sumit Badola
Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam & Vivek Gupta

Prayagraj is not the town
In which I saw my first dreams
The dreams I still see sometimes.

Prayagraj is not the town with narrow roads
And a lot of potholes
That I circled on my dainty cycle
Painting pictures in my head, imagining
That I'm in a Disney movie
Escaping a filmy catastrophe
On my long Lady Bird cycle.

Prayagraj is not the town
Where I first went to school
My heart beating fast with excitement
Or terror on other days
Shirt tucked, palms clammy, and face?
Puffy and pink.

Prayagraj is not the town
Where I first made friends
Fell in love – watched it end.
Dreamt of dancing on the moon
Sucked a gooseberry seed all afternoon
Ate a guava in the rain
Flew a kite, gawked at a plane
Went to the planetarium and the park
Whispered secrets in the dark.
Where my grandfather lived, loved and died
I read Harry Potter eight times and cried
Where my parents married years ago
And here's something you should know –

You can mess with the country's memory all you like
But leave my town's history aside.
Ditch your attempt to alienate and ostracise
Make people forget, and Hinduise.
Hundreds like me will feel homeless
Because home is the memory, home is the name.
You'll render me an outsider, my land strange
In an attempt to win this game.

Deportations, NRC, a changed name for my city
Thousands homeless, turned away, let down in this country.
You may scribble a twisted history, but "Prayagraj" ain't my home
Mr Chief Minister, I beg you: Leave my Allahabad alone!

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