Migrant Wish | Moni Brar
“The monster is that being who refuses to adapt to her circumstances. Her fate. Her body. Great Britain.” ― Bhanu Kapil
They keep telling you to go home. Loudly, emphatically. Fearlessly. Go home. Go back to where you came from. Don’t they know that such a place no longer exists? That you are firmly wedged between two worlds that continue to reject you? That the notion of home exists only in their minds? You travel back in time to tell all this to your classmates in the playground, to the man who drove by in the white truck when you were walking home from campus, to the woman outside the shopping mall last week. They retract their pale tongues and listen.
To return to your place of origin is no small feat. You must navigate a multitude of forms. Tiny print, short spaces for long names. Sit in front of stone-faced officers. Present your landing papers to prove that you left this place and chose to land elsewhere. As if you were a ship or a plane, effortlessly gliding to land in a place of your choosing. But only you know that you grew up in the hull of a ship along with a multitude of kin. Shoulder to shoulder, waiting to land. A ship’s name you did not learn until you were 28. There were no picture pop-up books in grade school to explain migration or how you came to be here. There’s talk of revamping the school curriculum. You wonder if the SS Komagata Maru will finally grace the pages of a lesson plan.
You have become preoccupied with the business of wellness. In an obsessive, unhealthy way. You have an aversion to the appropriated ayurvedic miracles of golden mylk lattes and turmeric face masks, and instead turn to the words of people with authority. People named Simon, Carol and Brené. You work hard at cultivating a growth mindset. Embracing vulnerability. Practicing radical acceptance. You exert so much energy leaning in, that you find yourself ground down to something resembling a fine spice. Like turmeric.
You rail against a brief for the defense, against the fetishization of the other, the romanticization of poverty. The fertilization of greed. You want to ask Jack Gilbert if he saw the caged prostitutes in Bombay laugh or just imagined they did. Wished they did. You want to meet this God that tells him to risk delight, so you can ask for permission to do the same.
Moni Brar (she/her) was born in rural India and now gratefully divides her time between the unceded territories of Treaty 7 and Metis Nation Region 3 (Calgary) and Syilx Okanagan Nation (Oliver). She has multiple nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, was the winner of the 2022 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, and a finalist for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. She has received writing honours from PRISM international, Room, Arc, Blood Orange Review, and Subnivean. Her work appears in Best Canadian Poetry, The Literary Review of Canada, Passages North, and Hobart.