Shorts

Brother imagines himself marching to Burma.

Superman’s knickers. A red turban. Wants to be a hero.

 

He returns with hair stiff from sweat, cheeks a freshly punched

knuckle hue, goosebumps.

 

It’s too cold outside for shorts Mother screams, scratching nails on stains,

draping a towel around his waist which he sports like a lungi.

 

Each year, he hoards his uniform: white shirt, black shoes and always

shorts: cargo shorts, crease resistant cargo shorts, crease resistant,

stain resistant cargo shorts.

 

When Brother leaves home for good, Mother packs trousers

instead: mud coloured, stretched like moth wings on train lights.

 

Brother wears them each evening now as dusk strikes.

Knees lunged, ready for the catch, he raises his arms and claps.

 

Mother, he prays, hoping she will hear him: Bharat Mata Ki Jai.

 

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