Ching chong choo
That’s his name ma’am.
The students laugh not at odds.
The teacher writes his name,
The real one, in the register.
She is afraid she will spell it wrong
Or that their relaxed laughter has split something
In someone’s heart.
The boy jokes, maybe aware
That identity can provide humour
That differences strengthen character,
Chisel edges, sharpen dreams,
He thinks, she spelt my name wrong,
And yet when I am late, they see me tread
From another land with a great wall
And I am wronged everyday.
Then humour is ugliness disguised,
Then laughter is the sound of disgust.
- Neelima Vinod, Bangalore