Poetry | First Letter Home from a Migrant Worker – Andy Conner

Dear Ma-Baba,

It has broken my heart to leave our village
leave you so far behind.

This astonishing city holds many challenges.

My first great accomplishment:
I visited Chowpatty Beach
And stood shoulder to shoulder
Amongst the Mumbai elite
On the most prestigious
Rubbish dump in all of India.

It was truly a sea of inspiration
No well, no river
But an ocean of plastic bottles
Stretching further than the eye could see
Farther than my mind could dream.

I am grateful for your sacrifices
Your lifetime of simple meals
Fruit, sabzi, dhal, chapatis
To give me this opportunity
This golden wandering
Through potato chip packets
Ice cream wrappers
paper plates.

This isn’t trash.
This is cash.
And you know?
I couldn’t resist removing my sandals
To feel Lakshmi’s love
Dusting my feet.

The sea harbours such indescribable smells
No outdated salt
Or bygone fish
But bouquets of industry, progress, exports
I’ve heard it said they’re channelled
In a pipeline from Malabar Hill.

Such beautiful pollution
Is attainable for all.

Mumbai couldn’t be
Without filmy magic.

I have heard the most entertaining fable
About a mythical palace called Antilia
A palace of such treasures
It could not exist on this earth.
I believe it serves as an inspiration
That no matter how great one’s wealth
There’s no harm in coveting more.

I am enclosing three hundred and twenty rupees
But Chowpatty has strengthened my resolve
To become more than you or I
Ever dreamed I could be.

I am also enclosing half of a paper plate
I took as a souvenir.

I was tempted to take two
But wish my successes
To be tempered with the humility
You have instilled in me.

Please show it to my siblings and cousins.
As the oldest, I need to be the strongest of role models.

You have brought me up not to take without giving.
So I dropped my bus ticket on the sand
May it serve as a symbol.

I am a man of the modern world.
A capitalist, a Mumbaikar

Your loving son

Andy Conner is a Birmingham, UK-based poet and educator, with a long track record of performing his work nationally and internationally. His credits include BBC Radio 4, Jaipur Literature Festival and India International Centre. A highly dramatic and visual performer, Andy’s work ranges from the humorous to the very dark. Many of his poems are for young people. Some of Andy’s poems have been written to help children of all ages deal with issues such as bullying and domestic violence. Recently, Andy has also worked in British schools, conducting workshops for National Refugee Week. A compelling live performer, Andy is known for his close rapport with his audiences and can be relied upon to deliver a memorable show with humor and intensity.

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