Not Allowed in Kamala Nehru Park

The sign read,

Not allowed:
██████, playing games,
cricket, football, flying knife,
stress exercises, jogging, begging,
picking flowers, drinking liquor,
██████, ██████, misbehavior,
eatables, feeding animals.


It was in those black spaces where we vandals
worked. My partner’s mustache only starting to bristle.
Neighbors & school-mates, we ambled
to the park past kids who spattered kulfi on tables.
They were kids who didn’t know our potential.
(We couldn’t afford kulfi; that was undeniable.)
They laughed at the way our ill-fitting sandals whistled
in the rain. They lit post-snack bidis & never speculated
beyond our bath-bucket hair, never knew we were liable
for defacement. Our can hissed & blacked out actionable
activities — sleeping, touching, making love. Universal
needs, yes, but in some minds we should be shackled.


by Tanya Muzumdar