‘Rapinder Slips into Tongues . . .’
This poem is from Daljit Nagra’s Look We Have Coming to Dover! (p. 30). It’s fully annotatable, so you can highlight any portion of the text to annotate it with your own thoughts.
Dad and me were watching the video –
Amar, Akbar, Anthony. It’s about three
brothers separated after the family is parted
by gangsters. You can get it with subtitles, Miss.
When Anthony, who grows up in a Catholic home,
begged Christ for the address of his real parents
then crossed himself, I jumped off our royal red
sofa, joined Anthony with his prayer:
Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary,
four-quartering myself then curtseying a little.
Dad just stared at me, knocking his turban side
to side that I almost thought it would come off
which it normally does when he’s doing his press-ups
and his face goes mauve. Instead he took off
his flip-flop (the one with a broken thong),
held it in the air, shouting in ‘our’ language:
Vut idiot! If you vunt to call on Gud,
call anytime on anyvun of our ten gurus.
Do yoo tink is white Gud’s wife yor mudder?
Dad’s got a seriously funny way Miss,
sometimes he cries, and says he’s going to give me
to a Sikh school, a proper school. That’s why
I did what my cousin Ashok does at our local
temple – while you were all doing Hail Mary
to end registration, I first locked my hands,
knelt down, prayed with this ditty we do on Sundays,
imagined the Golden Temple and our bearded gods
to your up-on-the-cross one, then roared: