Paper Boats / trisha bora

When the monsoon rolled in,
darkening and ripping apart our
skies with flashes of lightning,
deafening us with its growls,
we’d slip out of the house,
unnoticed, with our umbrellas
and newspaper-boats—the
ones that held stories for our
parents (stories that we didn’t
quite understand) about a city
in the throes of civil war, of
temples and mosques being
razed to the ground in the name
of god, and the assassination
of a tyrant prime minister, her
once-starched sari now streaked
with red, lying limp like wet
cotton bales that were left out
in the unyielding rain for too long.

The rain filled the potholes in the
roads outside into great splashing
pools and turned our drain into
a gushing river, which at times
threw up a small fish, one that
we’d try to catch, even though it
was much too fast for us, and at
other times the silver scaly belly
of a dead one, its listless eye staring
accusingly back at us. We’d lower
our newspaper-boats into the river,
its white sails gathering in the gale,
and it would set sail down the
choppy muddy waters, holding
out as long as it could until its soggy
body would give up with a watery
gasp, taking starboard, mast and
the cries of a burning nation down
to the shallow bottom of the drain.

•••

Trisha Bora is an editor and writer who has been away from her hometown—Assam—for many years now and currently lives in Delhi. Her works have been published at Asia Writes, Nether Magazine, Ultra Violet, Out of Print, Nth Position, and Green Light Dhaba, among others.

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