Kids Corner

Above: detail from a photograph of Duleep Singh taken at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, in 1854. He was 15 years old.


Duleep Singh






ਦਲੀਪ ਸਿੰਘ
Duleep Singh

mutilated places. I live
in Alberta
Named after the youngest
daughter of Queen Victoria
Does it matter
if half the world does not
know about Alberta’s living
fossils, sands, beautiful
glaciers, Or the fact that water
boil at a hundred degrees Celsius,
Or the meaning of the Punjabi word Dalip (mispronounced Duleep), 
Or stunning properties of graphite diamond
Buckminsterfullerene, all allotropes
of Carbon, Or traces
of history, which is neither a mountain
nor light. Koh-i-noor was

Queen Victoria stole
the diamond
from a ten year old
boy in Punjab. She forgot
to record
it as loot. The ‘gift’
was re-cut
as crown jewel. Princess
Alberta was around a year old then

Like a fairy-tale figure
Alberta’s mother also stole
the ten year old
boy from his beloved
mother, Rani Jindan of Punjab
Took him past seven
seas to a fog of an island
(History tells us that his house, land, body, language,
music, rababs etc., were also
stolen.) As if enough
was not enough
his mother too (stolen)

Research question: Wonder how they faced each other,
the little girl and the little boy when they grew up?

As for me yes there is a bit
of emotion. Sometimes nothing
at all. Do not
interpret this as irony
or a thing unable
to fit
the pH
of metaphor. I am
in a bar
with a fountain
pen, a mole skin, four
empty glasses. We are
surrounded by fogs
of light. Now and then
emerge little shocks
and eyes of un-dissected insects

*   *   *   *   *

Jaspreet Singh is a Canadian citizen and lives in Alberta. He is the author of Seventeen Tomatoes, a short story collection (Véhicule Press, 2004) and Chef, a novel (Véhicule Press, 2008; Bloomsbury, 2010) — both books engage with the damaged landscapes of Kashmir. His novel Helium (Bloomsbury, 2013) is a powerful meditation on historical forgetting. Jaspreet’s work has been published internationally and has been translated into several languages. This poem is from his first collection of poems.

April 26, 2018

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