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  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Moni Brar

Under the Banyan

Nani-ji told us stories, long stories and made-up stories, and maybe even true stories of

everything she knew everything she’s gathered and named

squatting under the banyan tree

parnana-ji planted by the lotus pond where the water buffalo bathed. She was shrivelled as an overripe mango, but once smooth as a clay pot. Her hands were caked with stories, her body brimming with folk songs,

family tales and bedtime riddles

imprinted in memory,

precious heirlooms

seeded from the women and women-shaped absences before her.

She told stories of a mouse who was mocked for hoarding rice in a hole, a wise mouse who knew the floods were coming,

the rupture and decay looming.

I wonder if she was that mouse.

Moni Brar is an uninvited settler on unsurrendered territories of the Treaty 7 region and Syilx Okanagan Nation. She is a Punjabi, Sikh Canadian writer exploring diasporan guilt, identity, cultural oppression, and intergenerational trauma. She believes in the possibility of healing through literature. Her work appears in PRISM international, Hart House Review, Existere, FreeFall, Hobart, and other publications.

Translations: nani-ji: maternal grandmother in the Punjabi family

parnana-ji: maternal great-grandfather

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