Poetry | ‘English in me’ & ‘Travelling with Papa’ | By Ranu Uniyal

Ranu Uniyal has the adorability that comes from a shifting relationship to English. For no matter how much we love it, we can’t live with it when we know beauty and depth may lie in other languages. ‘Fuck in English/Fuck it now.’

English in me 

English is as big as a mustard seed 

in my conscience.  

I have made a living 

all these years

read and chewed 

and sometimes failed to digest 

its embryonic juices.  

Constantly I am being told 

you know nothing.  

Here is a poseuse  

without pauses 

or commas

jutting off hyphens 

and siphoning 

all the prepositions 

with umm’s and ho’s.  

My desi friends 

make fun of 

my Sanskrit seeped in 

accented English.   

They say nimboo pani 

as an ideal drink 

loses thrill unless 

sugar and salt are 

adequately mixed.  

And my English friends 

with stoic disdain

forgive my sins 

for they know 

she knows not.   

Heavenly Father 

has always had 

the final laugh.   

English is the language 

I make love in.  

English is the language 

I have used for my living.  

English is the language 

I travel in mind, body, and soul.  

English is all I could never be.  

English is all I will never be.  

Fuck English 

Fuck it now.  

Embrace English 

Embrace it now. 


Travelling with Papa

Because I have lived 

a one and twenty years 

in this house 

with its wide truncated 

corridors, I can smell 

you everywhere, on that 

broody charpoy, that 

sedan brown chair with its 

velvety cushions piled on high 

and you dazzling like a 

laughing Buddha. Unlike him 

you had no inch of flesh on you.  

Just the smell of neem 

and sarson gave you away. 

I knew it had to be you

reading Geeta, chanting Ramayana

living on the news from CNN.  

The less I travel and stay put 

I see you in distant capitals 

visiting Eiffel one day 

and Louvre the other

tracking the road to Cottingham

searching for a house 

in Salmon Grove. 

Is it you in Hornsea

waving, gesticulating 

with a grim flick of a smile? 

See I too have left my soul there 

and am hauling the carcass everywhere. 

Ranu Uniyal is Professor of English at Lucknow University.  An author of six books, her articles and book reviews have been published widely. Her poetry has appeared in Mascara Literary Review (Australia), Jaggery, Medulla Review, Sketch Book, Twenty 20, Whispers (USA), Littlewood Press (UK), Bengal Lights (Bangladesh), Asia Literary Review, Cha (Hongkong), The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Dhauli Review, Muse India, Kavya Bharati, Femina, Manushi, Indian Literature, Ethos literary journal and several anthologies in India and abroad. She has published three poetry collections:  Across the Divide (2006), December Poems (2012), and the most recent The Day We Went Strawberry Picking in Scarborough (2018). She has read her poems at international literature festivals and conferences in Bhubaneswar, Chemnitz, Calicut, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lancaster, Lucknow, Madrid, Tashkent and Udaipur. She was on a Writer’s residency in 2019 at Uzbekistan. Her poems have been translated in Hindi, Oriya, Malayalam, Spanish, Urdu, and Uzbek. She also writes poetry in Hindi. She is a founding member of a day care centre for children with special needs in Lucknow. She can be reached at ranuuniyalpant@gmail.com | ranuuniyal.com

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