boju says

by | August 25, 2021

he is now the     2am ambak 

 falling on our tin roof &             maybe 

but i don’t have 

words for this widow 

singing for the ghost      of her husband 


still limping around his home 

                 of pepper trees     monkeys     built     from 


                 fighting fighting

for the white man – the dead Gurkha 


    & his kukri      who once learned to swim 

    with only a word      to stay afloat 




when someone dies my 

mother says even        the fruit-flies sing at     the funeral 

they dance in          between                    hot rain          & grief          &

laughter of        the neighborhood gambling in the               living 

room   telling stories – keeping guard – that many            bodies 

will keep   this spirit²   away.       and the        family in mourning 

must hide          away                  touch no skin taste no salt sleep on hay 

call my grandfather’s name above


a fire        invite him           beg him

 to enter his room once 




the poojari  instructs 

   s    peak                      hi s              na  me                    lou          der

                     b               ring     out                         h is              go ld

        di   d you     say  his n  ame 

                        loud                  enough? 

        t     h    e  p    o  r   k                                                          his rings

          h       is                     d                 ia ry         home   f  rom

  t rees         un  finis-                    tree

           b               ui ld          b         ui ld                    sons

                             s   o n                     s        

                                                    baje                         ba je                                                ba³        

                            but my baje still never 

visits me in dreams, maybe because he’s mad 

because of the pork he never got to eat 


because of the grandson overseas

because he never wanted to leave 


or that treehouse he never finished  


¹ courage / a dead grandfather’s middle name /more than courage/

 more / more than a name /

                           the पूर्ण bahadur/ the absolute courage /something to pass on something he could never 

pass on


² maybe baje is now a song among the slow 

   monsoon still whispering to make the lychees 

   shiver, fall from the tree into my palms once 

   rubbed with his snot, an old-grandfather’s 

   remedy for nettles these same fat palms once 

   taught to sling shot stones like a full stop


³ they let us know how he stood

before the door looked around & left. they let 


the family know he didn’t come in, that when at 

peace, he will visit you


Words by Mukahang Limbu. Art by Millie Dean-Lewis.