“Traffic Kids” by Farah Billa

I don’t think in Bengali, I think

it is just one of those things that fold my body 

the way my grandfather used to. At least that’s what my mother says. 

She wonders how could my bones know how he liked to sit if he passed

before my little girl memory had a chance to grab him by his index finger. 

How did I know I like to sit and drink cha in an small balcony hovering over Los Angeles, 

my knees pretending to crouch roadside by a shop with three walls. 

They sell chanachur and fanta in glass bottles here. 

I watch the children play cricket in bare feet and concave stomachs

on the field between L.A. street traffic. 

The villages get a hold of you like that sometimes. 

It’s the call to prayer ringing between the buzz of the news, the stray dogs

sitting beside the men that lay broken on the sidewalks. 

My grandfather was the only tall one in the family, I think

maybe that’s him leaning against the door of the the closed storefront. 

I think that’s my aunt buying squash and bitter melon,

but I haven’t been able to find good bitter melon in southern California. 

It’s probably just the language telling me to stop fighting. 

I think in English like it is the rock holding together to the shoreline, 

and in Bengali like it is the night tide that rises to kiss it goodnight. 

 


Farah Billah is a poet and artist striving daily to exist at a level she’s comfortable with. She’s the author of Wrong Turns Lead Here and is the creator of Coriander Cats. Billah writes about women, the first generation experience, and trying, every day, to stay sane.

Traffic Kids was originally published in The Black Napkin Volume 1 Issue 2

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