You Worthless


“You worthless . . .” my mother says and pauses mid-sentence,

her fingers deftly swiping through the multicolored

candies—her favorite pastime for killing time,

her only way of crushing the chilling loneliness.


To prove my dutifulness, my mouth forces itself into a grim, 

jack-o-lantern smile. Unappeased, she blasts the candies

with a double color bomb and looks straight at me—through me.

Her eyelids are heavy with years of resentment,

two dark moons hang beneath the sunken eyes.


“You worthless . . .” she whispers under her breath and stops.

One of my cousins walks in, flops on the sofa,

takes his brand new iPhone 11 Pro Max, and scrolls

through his Facebook feed. Even inside the house, he likes

to wear his new Ray-Bans—the ones he bought

from a duty-free shop in Dubai. He’s also wearing

one of those I <3 NYC T-shirts. He flashes

a jeering smile at me, and says to my mother—


“How much exactly does he make as a writer?”—

the one question every relative in this god-

forsaken country asks you. My mother spits a figure,

and the EDV moron laughs, exposing

his yellowing teeth and blackening gums—the result

of drinking one too many American soda pops.


How much do I make? How much can I ever

make in this rotten country? I mumble and words

crystallize as soon as they fall out of my mouth.

I’m shirtless, sexless—drifting from one street

to another, searching for my face in garish shop fronts.

Once in a while, I run into old friends from high school.

“K chha, yaar? America najane?” The question repeats itself

until words lose their bearing and fall apart.


Every Dashain, the drunken voice of my maternal

uncle rings inside the kitchen. “K garne yo desh ma?”

He pours himself another drink and glares

at me with mocking eyes. “Loksewa dine?” my father

looks at me—his eyes are liquid, just like the color

of the cheap whiskey he’s drinking.


Without reason or rhyme, I walk along the darkening

alleys of Thamel, only to find myself lost

among the bright neon lights—glowing signage, blurring

my vision. A sudden flash and I dream of naked bodies

lying atop me. I open my eyes and the sad

street frowns at my existence.


“Bahira jane? Najane? K garne yo desh ma?”

Words crystallize within the mist and explode into

a million tiny pieces. After hours of strolling, I look down

at my rubber sandals—the soles are coming off, and right now

they make gaping holes like the mouths of two hungry

alligators, waiting to bite off my future from the face

of my present days.







“K chha, yaar? America najane?” means “What’s up, buddy? Aren’t you going to America?”


“K garne yo desh ma?” means “What are you going to do in this country?”


“Loksewa dine?” means “Will you take the Public Service Commission exam?”


“Bahira jane? Najane? K garne yo desh ma?” means “Are you going abroad? Aren’t you? What are you going to do in this country?”


Poetry by Yayāti
Read 253 times
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Written on 2020-01-23 at 13:01

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Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
This text has been chosen to be featured on the home page of PoetBay. Thank you for posting it on our poetry website!

Thomas D The PoetBay support member heart!
This reader is at once abashed and inspired, but mostly encouraged, to see such poetic prowess and narrative expertise. A really good poem. Thank you for sharing it.

Definitely worth to read!
you describe it very well
thank you

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
A well-drawn, if grim, portrait. It could have been painted by Breugal. I'm quite familiar with the neighborhood.

Elle The PoetBay support member heart!
Excellent, brimming with atmosphere

Elle x

josephus The PoetBay support member heart!
Damn, this is good! It held me from the first line. The tension you create is palpable. Some exceptional prose and techniques such as the unspoken half delivered comments from your mother... "My mother spits a figure" ... "his eyes liquid just like the colour of the cheap whisky he's drinking" brilliantly executed.

jim The PoetBay support member heart!
I admire this poem for its completeness, for the scene you present, the voices we hear, the rich imagery, the sincerity. You've really done a fine job, Bibek.