Reaching for Fish Guts

I will be brave, for a moment, and considerwhy I ran away.
Again and again, withthe slow simmering of nihari that burst into flavour on my tongue,here it was piping hot, no tandoori roti softening its spice,and they were nice to me, they were all nice to me as you should be to someone who is nice to you,niceness three dead fishes wrapped upin a cloth and exchanged, conciliatory giftthat did not tell you they were poisoned,that did not tell you they came at the priceof disagreeing whether your peoplewould be driven to genocide or not,niceness a smile and a laugh and a sneerwhen you confessed you had neverloved, and you-                                                You were nice to me, you were niceuntil I seemed to disappear in front of you,and then you did not have to be nice anymoreuntil I reappeared, raging at the slow, guttural choking of the fish as it died,because it hadn’t fully died from the poison,they’d left one half-alive to let me watchit thrash to death. And then you did notunderstand why I was no longer niceto you, you expected niceness andI knew it would vanish when I vanished,so I vanished to make it vanish, Ivanished to make you vanish, soI vanished-
and then you did too.
~ Sara Batool 
Delhi, India

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