on redemption

I lay claim to God
the one of your scriptures
and yours
He is mine too
your God that draws lines
within which you must confine
He is mine too
boundary less
without condition and imposition
He is mine too
I lay claim to God
without notions of land,
or air or water
abundantly and freely
He is mine too
the God of your race
and your performances
the God of your purity
of your contrived Holy
He is mine too.
not by birthright
or inheritance
I lay claim to God
because on that Cross
was nailed.


Swimming (or drowning)

Water meets timid flesh
With familiar confidence.
Ankles, knees, thighs, waist
Breasts, neck, cheeks, hair.
Arms spread and still
Cold, wild water lifting.

As eternity ends
and drowning begins,
limbs kick at fluid walls
to break surface
and the decision is made
To inhale.


My demons are new

tick tock, tick tock

hungry and

on a hunt

Beautiful, bright

their darkness as light

angels of light

angels of night.



Angels of night

tick tock, tick tock

beautiful men, women

beautiful yes.

Detestable love

as melodies pulled

from heartbreaks

and heartaches.



And heartaches

tick tock, tick tock.

In rooms of plush satin

and purple

I will be less

than I should be

like Rusted strings

on a pawned guitar.



Rusted strings though

are a thing of love

they go flat

but you can never have enough

Because empty melody

is better than silence

and the rhythm of life

tick tock, tick tock.

Achi (Grandmother)

When I first entered
I folded my hands
As a gesture of respect
And she did the same.
As I was leaving, I gave in
To natural instinct
And leaned in for a hug
She took my face in her
Wrinkled hands
And kissed me on my cheek
Grandmothers everywhere
Are the same I suppose
Always smothering you
With too much love
And ineffable affection.
~MZU trip 2017~

(e)state of Terror

The headlines read, “5 killed in suspected terror attacks.”

And I’m really upset

Because this terror feels like an addition

To normal terrors I carry

Everyday, everywhere

the terror of being fat

and of poverty

the terror of failure

and of mediocrity

the terror of ugliness

and skininess

and imperfect hair

small eyes and short legs.

What’s more

these are terrors I’m sold

terrors I buy and pet and keep

and grow

the terror of being single,

of having no job,

of growing old.

And so on

Facebook and Instagram

I do what i can

to matter

and quell these terrors

for a while

Tweeting like I know

the world,

posting selfies

because now the mirror lies.

I am sold youth,

and beauty, and freedom and liberty

and pop and stars and celebrity

and shoes and clothes

and cars and body parts.

I am dissatisfied

and I am terrorised.

What greater terror everyday

than to be alienated

from friends and family

to be where you don’t want to be

and do what you don’t want to

“oh that’s life, grow up’

the terror of not being grateful enough.

So when I read a headline like that

I’m reminded of terrors

pointed at me

not in bullets and bombs

but in polite talk

and mind-numbing pleasures.

Terror , whichever kind

is created and administered

usually from plush ivory towers

with incredibly long arms

and irresistible powers

I live in

a state of terror.

Tears for Rohingya

Just beyond the boundary

of my comfort

mother cries

her child dies.

father robbed

of reason and hope.

humanity is gutted

and ripped apart

from bodies

where absence of choice

makes suicide a luxury.


I sit here and type

words and more words

To forget my own smallness.

Words to reshape

my guilt into pain.

It is more acceptable.


The pen is mightier…

I have never felt less powerful

than i do now

alphabets and words

in my arsenal

and nothing else.

What’s in a name?

Donoghue, how do you pronounce that?

The ‘g’ is silent.


A tiny patch of blonde hair

on my younger brother’s head

Was a celebrated validation of identity.

Sharp features of my older brother

always marked how he was different from

other Mizos,

Legitimation of claims to being “Donoghue”.


I have always been Donoghue,

With some reservation

with some apology

for my thick, black hair

and small, dark eyes

My short stature

and broad, snub nose.


Donoghue, where are you from?

My father is from Tamil Nadu.

Do you speak Tamil then?

No, but my nana can give

a piece of her mind in perfect Tamil.

And my father can

draw out words in Tamil

Can I claim Tamil-ness on their quota?


Then I remember,

Apu on his dying bed

and his attempts to teach me

how to read Mizo

and be Mizo.

I think of how I have trained

my anglo tongue and manner

to be Mizo.


I am as much my mother’s daughter

as I am my father’s.

In trying to reconcile identities

and hoping to belong

I realize,

I cannot fit into neat categories

rigidly perpetuated

for convenience.

My family tree remains obscure

like a lovely mystery

I may never want to solve.


But if I am Donoghue,

then my legacy is laughter and family

the warm hugs of my grandpa

and the morning conversations

his gentle mouth articulated

despite his Parkinsons.

And if I am Pachuau,

then my legacy is kindness,

Safely wrapped in Api’s scarf

the only thing I inherited from her.


I am a minority among minorities

I am also a walking evidence of love

I am Donoghue and Pachuau

Simultaneously, unapologetically.

* nana- My father’s mother
apu- My mother’s father
grandpa- My father’s father
api- My mother’s mother