The final part of our extracts from the new collection of work from 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE. All 4 pieces can be found in the excellent new publication from Rough Trade Books.

Today we bring you the poem Pariah by Sharan Hunjan from her pamphlet Hatch.

In Hatch, Sharan Hunjan presents an utterly compelling set of poems that break open and break apart language, mother tongue, motherhood, love and death through the always acute observations of a second-generation Punjabi immigrant. It is a startling, playful interrogation of the coloniser’s language rooted in the nostalgia and guilt of the possible loss of a mother tongue. It is heightened by raw reflections of what it means to become a mother in a series of eponymous poems which lie at the heart of the collection. 

Hatch is a birth, an opening, a beginning. 

Rough Trade Books

Pariah

Billy bosh Im jammin’ mate!

Bish bash bobs yer uncle!

Loot the store I’m a damned juggernaut from the jungle

pinch punch first day of the month—

I got a mouth full of pickle… a tongue full of chutney…

—I’m an avatar baby take those bangles

bangles of Blighty      smash them on your wedding day

in your khaki dungarees you’ll get your kharma mate

it’ll bite you in the balls             smash you on the nose—

PUNCH!— 

That’s five ingredients

panj ingredients

to make your bowl of booze 

and it’ll all be tickety-boo         sab teek hai babu   that’s tickety-boo

now fetch me a hot toddy in the midst of these typhoons!

Use shampoo you look like a thug 

repeat the mantra baby—

chit chat chit chat we used to write chittis

letters & letters send me a chitti from the pind

          tell me life in the Raj is cushty its pukka mate

it’s higgledy-piggledy topsy-turvy tit-for-tat hocus-pocus

take me transform me wind me up knock me

down turn me around Im your plaything…

end in your down-legged-dog pose warrior pose

‘cause I’m a pariah in my own bungalow

in my pyjamas eating basmati and daal

sitting in my yoga pose

with my chakras all aligned—

and when I’m out let’s say Namaste

let’s say Namaste

let’s say Namaste

so cross your legs

bow your heads 

smell your sweat 

and repeat after me

NAM – AS – TEY


Sharan Hunjan is part of the collective 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE who published a book of poetry and a zine together. She has also been published in the poetry anthology SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This chosen by Nikita Gill (Pan Macmillan 2020). She is a Secondary English teacher who grew up in Southall but emigrated to East London. 

Buy Hatch here!

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