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Zaban i urdu
Zaban i urdu, meaning language of the camp. In Urdu, here is idher or yahan. There is udher or wahan. We drive through a town. My father says, We lived here when we first came to England. Temporary lodging. A street of houses low to the ground. About returning to India, my mother tells a cousin, We will not go back there like we planned. Home’s fading origin. Urdu from the Turkish word ordu, an army. Horde/order/ordu/Urdu. Watching Gladiators on TV as a boy, I copied the pose Phoenix made before an event. One palm by my ear, the other on my hip, I shifted weight for my parents. Every year I was sent to cricket training praying my arms would fix like wickets or alifs. A curved line, an extravagant gesture, Sontag notes. Also, Camp and tragedy are antithesis. People are asking about you said my father from deep cover, meaning what respectable reason can reach the sensitive ears of our community explaining this long a bachelorhood? Now, dates are a problem with men single-minded as soldiers. No camp in camp. You’re so butch, a renegade mocks one morning as I roll out of his bed to head to the gym. In the question of who is and who isn’t, the meaning shifts after headaches and arm squeezes to hypertensive. The doctor shows me a diagram of a heart in which a red arrow winds, ricocheting off sides, as it passes through. There is an internal, irresistible language: a buzzword, Ramipril, to unlock no mellow passage of blood. I assemble grains and greens and a running regime that takes me on a loop of neighbourhood pavements, trying to make as few stops and as many gasping steps as possible, until I’m home.