75. The Alley Master

Author: Kelly August, First Year

Aao naa pyaari; look away from mother.
She does not hear your whimpering when Rupee seduces from
the hollows of men’s pockets,
down in the alleys.

Down, down in the alleys.

Be?i, see before you-
Watch as evening bows to his mistress,
and her diamonds tease above your almond eyes.
She winks at you from the north,
casting staggering shadows upon mother’s
locked door.

Cho?i la?aki, where are your sisters?
We must tell them about mother.
For, I will need all of you.

Soon- yes, soon
You yuva lotuses,
furnaced with Durga’s spirit,
will learn how to
walk without running,
stare without blinking,
stand without blushing.

Mother’s hair is turning grey. But
India is hungry.
Help Ma? feed the
appetites of those dragging her
dignity in the dirt.

Down, down in the alleys. 

Your lives will disintegrate into piles of
ash- so vulnerable to the wind,
like ripples gliding through murky puddles
after a single

My New Delhi darlings,
capture your fleeting purity
in glass jars. Keep them tucked under
straw beds, concealing their warmth from
men’s grasp.

Who am I?

I dye the running rivers red
With the sunrise’s shame.
I shrivel the skin around mother’s
tapping fingers.
I relinquish the lights from the eyes
of all Eve’s little maidens.
I speak with an arid tongue- like
waves of heated harshness
baking above the  
Thar Desert.

I am the red light of Garstin Bastion Road. 


Aao naa pyaari: Come here loved one
Be?i: daughter
Cho?i la?aki: little girl
Yuva: young
Durga: Hindu goddess of strength
Ma?: mother
Garstin Bastion Road: a road in India lined with multiple two to three story buildings. At night, it consists of about 100 brothels. It is the largest and most popular red-light district in New Delhi

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