2 Souls

by Ameet Vaghela

One

From a landlocked country on the dark continent.

Northern Rhodesia. One Nation.

Where the crash of the mighty Victoria Falls thunders

And the golden sun rises and sets in rhythm.

The air is hot, hot, hot

And the dust suffocates the city

Gasping for the rains to stamp it all out.

Where the colour of your skin does not matter

But it does.

He knew he did not belong.

In a place where his type is not allowed.

To be

To be free.

And so, he left.

Left it all behind

Destined for the kingdom that is united.

To the land

Of bangers and mash

bubble and squeak

fish and chips

toad in the hole

Battenberg cake

cucumber sandwiches

spotted dick

cups of tea

with a biscuit

pints of lager

and

packets of crisps.

To the country where they say

thank you very much

oh! so sorry

the traffic’s chocka today

mind it’s a bit nippy out there you best wear a cardie

bob’s your uncle

and

it’s all tickety boo!

Sent to boarding school

Castaway and rejected

Stiff upper lips, icy winters and bland, bland food.

Where did he come from?

Does he speak English?

What is he wearing?

To be brown. To be white.

To fit. Not quite.

And yet must.

Why is this so difficult?

To be gay. To be queer.

You don’t belong here.

Just keep my head down.

Study hard. Just get through it.

Gay .friends are my real family!

Pink angels in public school hell.

Is it a wardrobe no it’s a closet!

No Narnia, warm furs, hot chocolate or Turkish delight.

Exit. Come out and play.

And now.

Much older. Less wise.

Under the Arches at Heaven

Opens my eyes

To the glitter ball sun in the sky

of the clubbing dancefloor

Where the boys sashay in sparkly, skimpy tops and sequined skinny jeans

Sipping gin and tonics through stripey straws from tall flutes

And boogieing to the thumping beat.

Paying respects to that Queen of Pop.

Expressing oneself.

Putting love to the test.

Real love.

And boy can he dance!

Disco. Synth.

Electro. Techno.

Dance and house.

You and me.

Different villages. Same people.

Something magical in the air.

You spun me round to that Kylie tune

Are sweet dreams really made of this?

Echoes of Pet Shop Boys.

What have I done to deserve this?

To deserve love.

Another

From the ancient land of yoga and wisdom

Of rotis and chai, sweet spices and saris

The Empire, the Raj and the Jewel in the Crown,

Belonging to the soil but not quite the people.

Yet, he’s too different.

Not quite right.

He. Just. Did. Not. Fit.

He needed.

To be.

To be free.

And so, he left.

Too young to seek his tribe over there

He ended up over here.

To seek the common weal

In the land of milk and honey.

You don’t belong here!

Get out! This is our land of hope and glory

Paki poof. Queer batty boy.

Tank-top bumboy. Crop top pansy.

Go back to where you came from!

We’re here because you were there.

From where? Hated here.

From there! Hated there.

Where do I belong? Who am I? What am I?

Displaced. Misplaced.

It’s a sin. Is it?

And there’s so much shame.

Maggie T. 

That Wicked Witch of Grantham

Section 28.

Cannot promote. 

You. Me. Us.

Are not allowed.

Respect. Give us some.

Traditional. This is not our tradition.

Moral. Values.

Hate is not a family value.

Parliament.

Ministers debate age of consent

Solicitor General barks

“Recruiting into perversion, are we?

Your lot have no right!”

Equal rights.

Who is right? Or is this wrong?

To be brave

To be powerful

To be proud

To be himself. 

And then, later

Changes happen.

And happen they must.

Fresh starts.

Civil partnerships and gay marriages.

Pink triangles and rainbow flags.

Small town boy

Squinting in the bright lights of the big, big city.

Eyes shining and teeth baring

A grin. A smile.

I have arrived.

Is this my place? Are they my tribe?

The night so dark

And the club is so lit.

He stands there. Glowing. Looks at me

A twinkle. A shimmy. A giggle.

Who is he?

Could he be?

The one?

This night is special.

And full of magic.

You look nice? Shall we dance?

Let’s do that again. Fancy a…

Coffee?

And so, they met

First date. Second date

Date after date after date.

Move in with me?

Yes!

Yes, is my answer!

Hallelujah and God Save Our Queens!

Music does make the people come together

Bring on Diana Ross and her chain reaction.

Together

The ups and downs

Tears and fears

You get me. I get you.

Going out

Coming in

Growing up

Together.

Should I propose? Is 10 years too soon?

It feels right and yet it was never wrong.

We must be out of our minds! You’re mad!

What will everyone say? Let them say

It’s about time. Bloody hell it took you long enough

What shall we wear? Pink? Blue?

Valentine’s Day

Scattered fresh rose petals.

Heady excitement

Hangs in the air.

Alice in Wonderland theme. A little too much? Or not enough?

For this Queen of hearts

‘Eat me’ chocolate truffles and ‘Drink me’ champagne

And those Tiffany rings

Diamonds are truly a gay’s best friend!

My heart is pounding. Butterflies everywhere.

I love you.

Will you marry me?

Pause.

The silence.

The wait.

Time stood still.

The clocks stopped.

You are already 

My North, My South

My East and My West.

Yes. Yes, I will marry you!

Sing your queer hearts out

Trumpets and fanfare

Silk bows on white doves

Peacocks and swans

Unicorns and mermaids!

Love does last forever, Mr. Auden.

Maybe we just lose sight of it.

For the moment

Let’s shout it out – loud and proud

Let’s celebrate with a song and a dance

and a drink!

Let’s put the kettle on!

For a cup of tea.

With a biscuit. 

Or perhaps

Some rainbow cake?


Ameet Vaghela (he/him/his) was born in Harrow, London. He was brought up in Lusaka, Zambia and completed his studies in the UK. He is an NHS Respiratory Pharmacist in Brighton. Ameet enjoys singing with the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, origami paper folding, watching dystopian films and getting to grips with Twitter! He is proudly married to his husband, Tarun, and they live in Portslade, Brighton. ‘Staccato’ is his first published poem and was selected as one of five finalists for the Pharmaceutical Journal’s Annual writing competition in 2020, read out in their PJ Podcast and included in Writing Our Legacy’s ‘Covert’ magazine. Follow Ameet on Twitter: @acvaghela