Immigrant Goes Back
by Neeraja Kumar (India)
Audio: "Immigrant Goes Back," read by Neeraja Kumar
Why does the sky appear black from the airplane
even though it’s sweltering noon on the ground?
Tell me it’s the city mourning my departure—
the sun has taken some time out
Streetlights below glitter blandly like ants
in a line, or the words of a poem. Unaware
of the world around them.
Oh city of facades!
Tell me that you loved me when I sat in your cafés,
breathed your air, walked your streets.
I know I wasn't born to you. I know my parents
lived in your shacks to earn bread and were waiting
to leave your torturous corporate holes. I know that I walked
to school in your streets with the knowledge that I didn't
belong. I couldn’t stay long. Yet tell me you loved me
through your polluted air.
Tell me to not forget following
tour guides down your creeks, memorizing
the veins of your roads—the ones that clogged
in the November rain. We’d dawdle hip-deep in water
down your zebra crossings,
while men in fluorescent orange boiler suits
pumped the water into their tipsy tankers.
I go back to a home I do not know, because I spent
all my life in pursuit of you.
Do you know how many friends I leave behind,
incubated in your belly?
Do you know an apartment now sits naked
and scarred in your gully?
I wish a crowd gathered at the airport
to wave me goodbye. I wish you grounded
my airplane. I wish you brought in a storm
and wailed that you would never let me go.
Neeraja Kumar, age 16, is a rising junior from Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Kannur in India. Her work has previously appeared in The Poetryhood Movement, The World, and Write the World Review. She is also a Senior Editor at Polyphony Lit. When she’s not stuck staring gloomily at her desktop in virtual school, she likes to sit on her verandah and pretend to understand what the conversations of crows are all about.
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2/3/23, 12:21 AM
Reading this story was realistic and relatble
2/2/23, 11:27 AM
"I collected little glimpses of the north to hoard away for the future, like treasure" is such a beautiful line!
2/2/23, 11:23 AM
What a fascinating piece!
2/2/23, 5:21 AM
One of my favorite pieces ever published on Write the World!
2/2/23, 4:41 AM
Well done Everett on this powerful piece. I hope you continue to write!
2/2/23, 4:40 AM
Well done Genevieve - what a beautiful and evocative piece of writing!
1/17/23, 2:15 AM
This is so beautiful
1/16/23, 3:52 PM
I love all of it. It’s so real and so many feelings are there.
1/5/23, 6:02 PM
This is amazing. Do not ever stop. That is really inspirational, the whole writing piece made me want to help.
1/3/23, 7:19 PM
This article was absolutely amazing! I am so thankful to live in a country where periods and sex are fairly normalized, but I will never forget to educate myself about the lack of education others have. It pains me to know that in countries like India, girls are still put down about what they where and how they act. It was very brave of you to share your voice, and I commend you endlessly for that.
12/8/22, 7:25 PM
I really love this! I, myself, am not black, but I know of a lot of good black people. Sadly, I will admit, at one time, I used to think of a black community filled with gangs and poverty. But I know now how perfectly capable it is to live together if only we got rid of the stereotype that is so, so wrong. I do hope you accomplish this. This will great for our country.
Sorry but can't share the name
12/7/22, 10:40 AM
Basically I don't know how to react.
All the conservatives should be reading this.........