from Father

Piyush Daiya


father, are you going home
leaving me behind like a gob of spit?

I always heard that you can only travel
as far as your velocity permits

while you burned yourself, what did you learn?
burn the body, it will not return


in a trance, I come out of the hospital
after losing my father, as real as breath

a strange sort of wonder that only whores know
—men sleep with the living, not with the dead


what is it that cannot be hidden, what is visible now?
a parting gift

that Hindus do not permit decay
by turning into ash

does the end wear a mask?

on a path made by one's own footsteps
what is the word that can be brought to life?


what isn't
becomes a space for living
where sound does not form words

but in every breath



one day I knew I would not be able to stop
and would be drowned forever in a silent scream

—you will die
with your heart, innocent like a flower
one day I knew in my heart

you will die


all the past years turn
white in the limitless sky

as soon as he is gone

I will burn silence
and return

never to come back again


and you learn that everyone turns their back on you
the moment you breathe your last

to burn the corpse—


how long can one live
when all has ended, how long

speaking without words in a language
that is chasing me, foiling me again and again

what will be heard is silence
not me, father


like head to hammer
like father to fire
—my return

time flows like blood

pick a star for the glint in your eye
or wipe the vermilion off your forehead


how lonely this house is
looking skyward at midnight

it will fall into ruin
fall silent

without you

translated from the Hindi by Rahul Soni

Read the original in Hindi

Piyush Daiya (b. 1973) is one of the foremost names in contemporary Hindi literature and art. He founded the Hindi journals, Purovak and Bahuvachan; has edited two anthologies of folk studies, Lok and Lok ka Aalok, as well as two volumes of Kala Bharati for the Lalit Kala Akademi; and has for many years edited Udaipur's quarterly journal, Rangaayan. Daiya has translated Haku Shah's essays and children's fiction as well as the Greek poet Cavafy into Hindi, and is currently working on an anthology of world poetry. Three book-length conversations with the painters Haku Shah, Akhilesh and Manish Pushkale have also been published, while two similar projects with Ramkumar and Prahbhakar Kolte are in the works. Daiya is currently working on finishing his novel, Marg Madarjaat, for which he was awarded the Krishna Baldev Vaid Fellowship; a second collection of his poetry is also soon to be published.

Rahul Soni is an Editor-at-large at Asymptote, as well as a writer, editor and translator based in India. He founded and, from 2008 to 2012, edited Pratilipi, a literary journal, and Pratilipi Books, an independent publishing imprint. He is chief editor at Writer's Side, a literary agency and manuscript assessment service. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Almost Island, Biblio, Dhauli Review, Hindi, Indian Literature, Out of Print Magazine, Poetry International Web, Pratilipi, Recours au Poème, Tehelka, etc. He is currently working on a translation of Geetanjali Shree's novel Tirohit (HarperCollins, 2013) as well as on Shrikant Verma's Magadh (Almost Island Books, 2013). He was a Charles Wallace Visiting Fellow in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2010, and received the Sangam House Fellowship in 2012.