Rakhshan Rizwan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and moved to Germany where she studied Literature and New Media. She is currently a PhD candidate at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Papercuts, Cerebration, Muse India, The Missing Slate, Postcolonial Text, Yellow Chair Review and The Ofi Press. She is the winner of the Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize.
Her mother’s letters arrive on yellowing papyrus from Lucknow and mimic the way she speaks: using the formal address app instead of tum, She lifts her affections, admonishments from the page and holds them close, smelling the black India ink and the jasmine scent of her mother’s hand, she sees the breaks in her train of thought, marked by blots of stray ink when she held the pen stationary in her hand. She washes down her mother’s words of sandalwood and melancholy, with warm tea. Her unborn child kicks the quaint figures of speech and sucks the cloying Urdu with its small, webbed hands. Honeyed phrases of an exiled language like savoury sweetmeats that a traveller brings back with them, wrapped in an oily newspaper, a little cold but still fragrant with a hint of saffron, a caress of cardamom, from across the border, from busy markets in Delhi, in Amritsar, in Ludhiana. Names, so familiar, of cities now invisible.