Illustration by Nel Banaag

Bombay Blues by Gaamangwe Joy Mogami

Illustration by Nel Banaag
Illustration by Nel Banaag

Love, do you remember that fading old life of ours?
I am a sun-drenched girl twirling and twirling on a stranger’s rooftop in Bombay,
you are the cigarette-smoking boy buried in my mouth.
The light is rolling out of our eyes, and we are immortal.

We remember things here; how to be a night, and all of our lives.

We are somewhere in Bandra, a wind is screaming,
a rickshaw is spinning with all of our selves,
and we are howling; “Swallow whole Bombay’s sins! Swallow whole an ancient city!”

I am half-human now, and you are half of my God.

The city lights possess our skins,
and we remember this; we have lived here before.
Our past lives are all over here; Chhatrapati Shivaji’s old tracks,
Colaba’s fresh saccharines, our feet and Subha Hone Na De,
and this, old infamous smell, passing through all the noses that once belonged to us.

We have died here;
Perhaps as dancers for the nights, dancers for loneliness.
Perhaps we died old; forgotten and erased off the world’s periphery.
Or younglings as warzones, younglings as love on siege.

In that fading old life of ours, our bones remember this;
We are love even without God,
And India remembers,
for all the humans we have forgotten we’ve been.

About the Author


A nostalgic poem about a time in Bombay, India where everything seems ancient and familiar. Like a dream.

Gaamangwe Joy Mogami is a writer, filmmaker and interviewer from Gaborone, Botswana. Her poetry has been published in Brittle Paper, Afridiaspora, African Writer, Kalahari Review, Poetry Potion and Expound Magazine. She is a Writivism Literary Initiative 2017 Short Story mentee. Gaamangwe Joy Mogami is the Founder and Managing Editor of Africa in Dialogue, and the curator of The Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2017 Interviews electronic book published by Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature.

About the Illustrator

You can find more of Nel’s amazing art on Instagram.

Bombay Blues is one of the many amazing poems from the upcoming edition of the literary collection The Machinery.

Feel free to share the poem on Social Media or let us know what you think about it in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “Bombay Blues by Gaamangwe Joy Mogami

  1. Fine flowing rhythm throughout. Walking around (being driven) parts of the city once familiar bring back memories of past lives, but not the traditional kind involving death. My lives are the places I’ve lived and worked in and had been “reborn” into.


  2. Beautiful imagery of nostalgia and old loves. I especially appreciate the last verse and “for all the humans we’ve forgotten we’ve been’ just rips me to shreds. Thank you for publishing this poem. The art is just right to go along with it and I loved it too.


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