our kitchen taps are broken
and our dirt hides thick on tile lines and
unscrubbed bathroom walls
the laundry bag is full and if you peeped into
our sixteen year old washing machine
you’ll find clothes there
bleeding colour
from the laundry attempt made by
my sister
eleven years old

we eat dal for dinner
government rationed rice in steel plates on low stools
and two pieces of chicken each
for the children
and the adults may have an extra one
our new flat-screen TV was the last one
in our neighbourhood to come home
and we watch cricket and old Bollywood
like the rest of the people down our lane
and it makes no difference at all

our clothes we bought from the bazaar street
pre-loved we call them
because no teen wants to admit their nice red sweater is
like our rotting refrigerator
putrid on the inside and paint job peeling
like the one on the walls
where we hang duplicates of a last supper painting
near the windows where mom hung curtains
stitched up from a cheap nylon saree
too bright to be worn
but bright enough to never match that peeling paint

the china is new enough
to tell anyone
that we did not come from
old money
and we place them proudly
unashamedly without history in our living room
unused and shiny next to mom’s
rather ugly plastic flowers
placed for decoration
our cushions are flat
but you linger anyway
when you visit our
unputtogether home

and on most days
we roll on
never giving a shit
about how our shoes are not
Adidas Originals
and that we eat cheap
on the streets
five rupees chai from tea stalls
and roadside chanawallas
unbothered by the rest of the lot and their lattés
but there are the days
when we wonder
what it would have been like
to grow up
to never have to know
what it means
to just make do
some days all we want to do is stretch
to reach above that economic line
that keeps us under

and some days
we wear that desire on ourselves
big hoops fake boots
all that red lip
anything to hide the inescapable stench
of middle class

but it chases us and we run
into chic cafes and movie halls
and shopping malls where all we can afford are t-shirts
from the basic section
and it screams and screams and screams
never letting us forget
how we can’t belong