Poetry | ‘You bring out the Dilliwali in me’ by Ravneet Bawa | Issue 38 (Feb, 2021)

The slow growl of a simmering brawl
The gut of an adopted ruse
The broken fort.
The “What will you have for dinner?”
as we sit down for lunch.
You are the one I’d shamelessly lie for,
with you I’d roam nights
under Pandara Road lights
allow you the occasional loud belch
as I sit beside reading Ondaatje
Maybe. Maybe.
For you.

You bring out the Arvind Kejriwal in me
The foolish idealism in me
The par-aise-kaise in me
The behenchod-jaanta-hai-mera-baap-kaun-hai in me
The band-baaja-baraat in me
The whiskey tipped bullet in me
The glint of gold and diamonds in me
The slight of trivial pursuits in me.
The zubaan-ki-churri in me
The ho-hai-halla in me
The pata-hai-kal-kya-hua in me.
The shards and smoke of ’84 in me
The screams and grit of Nirbhaya in me
The fear of bhakts in me.
Yes, you do.
Yes, you do.

You bring out the bureaucrat in me
The entitlement of lasting love in me
The avarice of Aurangzeb in me
The grandeur of Mahabharata in me
The wayside jamuns on Lutyens roads in me
The heat of golgappe ka paani in me
The mist of the desert cooler in me
The frost and fog of December in me.

Mere dost, mere yaara
I am the pink spun sugar melting in your mouth
I am the fragrance of wet mogra by your bedside
I will lay kerchief on you
make you mine for this journey
I want to scar the side of your neck
show you off to the neighbors
ward off evil spirits with red chillies all day
burning slowly without odour, the cackle
of this dilli kaure in me
hain ji?

You bring out the banjaaran in me
The songstress and the seductress in me
The helplessness of Yamuna in me
The undulations of Aravali in me
The heartache of partition in me
The UP Bihar Punjab in me
The heretic and the spiritual in me
I could walk barefoot on burning tar and
bring you the nectar of the gods, make you
whole, in sickness and in death
in this city of djinns. Oh,
I am evil. I am the wrath of Kali.
I am the keeper of secrets.
The kama and the karma
of dynasties past. You bring out
the fossils of dead queens in me
The my many children in me
The devious and the innocent in me
The making of tunnels in me
Gainda. Gulab. Gulmohar. Shehtoot.
Khus. Langda. Dasehri. Amrood.
Pirs, fakirs, poets of now and yore
in the name of God and unholy verse
I invoke you.

“Hazarron khwahishei aisi…
Mai tumse phir milungi, kab, kahan, pata nahi”


*This poem is inspired in form and tenor from the 1994 original by Sandra Cisneros, “You bring out the Mexican in me”, from her anthology titled “Loose Women”.
**The last two lines of the poem are a medley of a line each from Ghalib and Amrita Pritam, my favourite poets, and both from Delhi, to conclude with the sense of dead poets living in me.


Ravneet Bawa lives in Bombay, India and spends her time between writing and working as a independent consultant and research in branding and consumer culture. She is the host of the conversational poetry podcast, ‘Ellipsis’ which has just concluded Season 1 with 50 episodes. She has previously published poetry in Asia Writes, DWL’s magazine Papercuts, Coldnoon, Literally Literary and in the journal Eksentrika. She was shortlisted for the Poetry Society of India’s All India Poetry Competition 2016 and published in the anthology Voyages. She is currently working on her first book of poetry – Is/Isn’t.

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