Last month we had a series of writing prompts and I would like to thank everyone who submitted work. I said I would publish one, sorry it could not be more…
Conversations about Geography with Zenzi
And that, Zenzi, is Maskat.
That, Abyssinia. Belgian Congo. French Equatorial Africa.
Places that exist only on a map.
Singapore 1928 Nairobi 1937. And that closer home, Bombay.
Where do I find this world for you?
To make you feel this, I need to tell you a story, about history.
Even as this is a map.
It is a very old one.
When the world looked different.
Let’s say there was no grandmother then, or grandfather.
Even then there was just the earth.
(No, this isn’t working).
Let’s begin from what is.
This is a nice dress, Zenzi.
It reminds us of what the world used to be
Before we were around.
Did people eat on time then?
Were children naughty?
Did they go to school?
Were we home then?
The oceans still swirled then.
I won’t tell you about the wars.
But just that, a lot of things changed
And even Bombay is called Mumbai now.
But what is a map really but a way to tell a story
About how we travelled from then to now.
Yes, I like the dress, but not what’s in it.
For me, it reminds me of something else,
That I cannot explain, that you are too young to know.
Let’s just say, this is an old map and a new dress.
And Khartoum is still in Sudan.
And the Arabian Sea brings news from far away, like a monsoon breeze.
Yes, papa, one day using this map,
We will go to the moon.
Then we will go to North America and Australia
And meet my cousin there.
It is a map, papa.
But very ‘cardboardy’, and its very ‘papery’.
And if we break this cardboard, I’ve seen they break very easily
When you fold them like paper to make a card.
Tara Sanyal Goswami a.k.a. Zenzi is five. She loves dancing Kathak and has many (imaginary) children to teach.
Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poetry has been published around the world, including his recent collection, River Wedding (Poetrywala) which has been widely reviewed.
This is their first poetry collaboration.