Immigrants As Humans

Sometimes I’m astounded at the need to say certain things. Such as the title of this blog post. But in the time of Trump, and in the wake of #shitholegate, some things become necessary. After all, a full third of Americans have lost their minds and are still devoted to this Taunter-In-Chief. And so it’s more than necessary to say that immigrants are humans. It’s more than necessary to actually provide evidence of that humanization. And it’s more vital than ever that we never lose sight of the fact that we are all connected, all one, despite our differences.

Take this poem by Agha Shahid Ali called “A Lost Memory of Delhi.” What I love about this poem are the many layers of humanization happening in it:  the tender memory of his home country (Shahid Ali immigrated to America from India), the imagining of his parent’s lives before he was born, and the ever-present mystery of one’s lineage. There isn’t one of us alive who doesn’t have this story, a home country, a parent(s) who brought them into being, a lineage (known or unknown). We all have it. There is no escaping it. This is what it means to be human.

A Lost Memory of Delhi

I am not born
it is 1948 and the bus turns
onto a road without name

There on his bicycle
my father
He is younger than I

At Okhla where I get off
I pass my parents
strolling by the Jamuna River

My mother is a recent bride
her sari a blaze of brocade
Silverdust parts her hair

She doesn’t see me
The bells of her anklets are distant
like the sound of china from

teashops being lit up with lanterns
and the stars are coming out
ringing with tongues of glass

They go into the house
always faded in photographs
in the family album

but lit up now
with the oil lamp
I saw broken in the attic

I want to tell them I am their son
older much older than they are
I knock keep knocking

but for them the night is quiet
this the night of my being
They don’t they won’t

hear me they won’t hear
my knocking drowning out
the tongues of stars