Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi woh Purple barsaat ki raat


Or: Prince, my mother, brother, father (and ur sister 2), & me

by Tanuja Desai Hidier

**2016 BPM**

Dearly Beloved,

My mama she loved U
Wrote me when they found U
New England—North London
En route 2 our girls’ school


Trans-Atlantic we mourned U
WhatsApp; Gram-on-phone too…
What’s funny and so true
My memories of U


Take me back 2 that shared roof
Mom, Dad, Raj
(Ur sister too)
And a lifetime of U…

**70s RPM**

Once upon a time
In a red-blanc-blue country
A very white neighborhood
Flanked by evergreen trees…

Stood a timid brown house
Turned 1st-generation home
4 a 4-person family
Of similar tones.

Downstairs: kitchen temple
Krishna: Ivory
Sandalwood Ganesha…

**80s RPM**

Up: U watch over me.

Ur poster on pink-
Sugar Walls; shirt undone
Bare chest; like the rest of me:
Pure cinnamon.
(U tender me flowers: Let’s play—c’mon!)

Shag rug: violaceous.
My ear, canals: voracious.
Barbies can’t take it
(U look so dang salacious!)
No way not to say Yes…

Yes! Tap-tip it from sleeve,
(Di)Vinyl betwixt palms
(Life-love-lines protect
‘Gainst smudging print-thumbs).

Needle touchdown
That delish-hiss-pectation…
…silence 2 sound:
Dearly Beloved: Elation!

A young girl’s whirling dervish
Roundbrush microphone
A suburban skirm-wish
2 choose her own tones
Hear a way home…

And before her ears’ eyes
World’s hues magnetize
Swell, gel, synchronize:
A stirring Purple reprise…

* * *

1999: mine
Thanks 2 Raj (my big brother).
Purple Rain (music, movie)
Got (and saw!) with my mother:

U vamp-rev the motor
She back-lit behind
Beckon: Step through the portal
Dare come along 4 the ride?

LP: my bedroom copy
(Wherein lay the decks).
Not 2 be confused
With my ground-floor cassette

Nor my tape of the tape
(4 emergencies).
Or the tape of the record.
4 violet (ins)urgencies:

In my fantaversies
I’d lay U down 2 traverse me
Need not even Kiss
2 Get Offf, Delirious…

My 1st brown-on-brown wet dream:
U, I (and she)’d lie
Listening 2 “When Doves Cry”.

But—ah! (MMMM!) I digress
(Now I’m such a Pretty Mess!)


Purple Rain on repeat…
Era at a stretch.
Our brown house filled up its lungs
Stuck out a brave chest

In our little white town
(Western) Massachusetts
Purple reigned, flipped its frown
A surrender Soft & Wet

This harmony hard-won
In many a senses:
As the 1st Indians around
Cowboys built up fences:

MK claimed me a witch
(Kevin: the color of dogshit!)
4 strange brew in our kitchen.
(Resistible Bitch khichdi be dissing!)

A Sign O’ the Times:
We were just too damn different.
But time tocked and taught
And borders kept shifting…


**70s-80s-99 RPM**

And in 19-7-8-99…
U redeFINEd (be)witch(ing)!
Nope, they’d no clue what 2 do with us.
U had an inkling:

Hot Thing, U melted
A world that’s so cold…
Proclaimed: D.M.S.R.!
Everybody, get on the floor!
(What the hell’d you come here 4?)

See, if you clap on the 4,
Mix up red/white/black/blue:
Ain’t no surprise:
Purple’s the hue!

**50s RPM**

10,000 lakes got U born
“Funk Machine” Ur dawnsong
Whilst: mauve sari draped on
(Future Baby) Mama on Bombay radio sung


A dream she folded away
Boarding that Air India plane
Around the World in a Day
4 amber fields of grain
(=Pittsburghian lanes)…


There Bapuji made ends meet
My mother: Beginnings
(Lotto ticket in temple
Where Sai Baba prayed: winning)

Polyester and Paisley
Baby-blue(s) airmail stationary…
Big brother grew older
She cut hair hip to shoulder

I was born in blue jeans
In English I screamed
Can-canned Alphabet Soup
On Mango Pulp Street.

**80s RPM**

Sometimes in the kitchen
Over homework, I’d listen
She bubble-bathing the dishes
Wistfully singing:

Zindagi bhar nahin …
Her lychee-sweet refrain
…bhoolegi woh barsaat….
And…Purple Rain.

I will never ever forget 
This night of Purple Rain…
Something stirred deep inside us:
Velvet sweat hope. And grace.

Mama and me leaning in,
Showcase Cinema seats squeaking,
Surround-sound, spell-unbound by U
(Stale popcorn uneaten; screen jammin’ with we-skin!)
And— voilà-aaray-waah!:
A glim, a releasing

Some kind of understanding
Between me and her…
(More kindred spirits; less mother-daughter)
What she’d left behind
We could both reach forward for…

* * *

My parents surprised
Me and my bhai:
2 tickets 2 see The Purple One—live!
(Lucy cried? I almost died!)

Magenta Mall sweater
(I’d painstakingly dressed)
Faux-fur gold collar
(Wiped the Lipstick Off it).

Heavenbent to earn it:
Ur half-smile—I’d learned it.
In the mirror, confirmed it.
My hair: Flashdance! permed it.

Batted eyes lined in violet;
Nails dunked in twilight
(Nearly hurled with excitement
and didn’t even drink wine yet!)

Sheila E, Vanity, Apolloni-
Ah! What a team!
Wendy, Lisa, U blasting
A New Powerfemale ‘mainstream’!

wasn’t short, brown, big-butted!
Or rather: I was!
Maybe I had The (3rdeye) Look!
(My whole motherland does!)

In Raj’s Little Red Corvette
(=Datsun 280-ZX)
Popped in my cassette
Broke the sound and speed limit

I-91 South:
Goosebumps all the way!
And as we got closer
T’was like a Parade:

Xploding out windows
Fast, middle, slow lanes
Punch a higher floor!
The highway refrain!

Inside: You could squeeze
The thrill in both fists
Glowverripe plum;
Glit-dripping in it.

Sheila E, glampurr-pure
Kicked it off—3, 4!— killed it!
Onlooker onstage she lured,
Genu-pseudo-seduced him.
(Note 2 self 4 the future: this valuable lesson.)

And Prince. Rogers. Nelson.
I Feel 4 U: still feel it!
That rapture of orbiting
Someone who really means it
(What luck we Xist on this earth the same minute!)

Birthing Something from Nothing.
The Everlasting Now.
Electric word: Life…
Mighty 4Ever Wow.

Pulsing purple Om.
Love symbol. Id.
Strumming us home:
A compass. The Kid.

Encore after encore
The Purple One played
(Don’t recall the setlist.
Check my DNA…)

**90s RPM**

And whether 4 1000s, or 100s
Or 1—2 the 9’s
U played Ur heart in and out
When U Were ours, theirs (still MINE!)

Human heliotrope
Spun-swung 2 the sun
A splits-splaying anthem
2 how far we had come…

**00s RPM**

My Reflection on U
2day in the Blue Light:
Around the one like no other…
There Ain’t No “Other” in sight!

We’d all harmonized
Blood brothersisters
Rainbow Child tribe

No either-or….
(1 + 1 = 3)
Not woman, not man
Only some kind of
Friend be
(I.D.= infinity)

A prince both king and queen
The sacred in-between
Boler-oh!, kohl, heels on
Home is a direction…
A musical movement

We don’t have to make sense
A pure state of trans-
-cendance, incandense
No shoulds; all will, can

Lover U never drew
Those soul-sucking divisions
Amalgamate, celebrate—
Copulate past revision
(Kiss where it counts: Ballet into connection!)

Embosom any color
Wholeheartedly listens:
Border-crossers. Rule-droppers.
Nomads. The pilgrims:

My mother, father. Brother.
(Perhaps by now…even Kevin?)

(And ur sister, too).



1 part red + 1 blue
U declared Joy Rave Un2!
Embraced our little brown roof…
Then bop-launched us on through!


**0 BPM**

O, snow this April:
My mother gave me the news.
The Mourning Papers.
Mama, say it ain’t true?

Prince? You mean Prince Prince?
No. Does Not Compute.
Zindagi bhar nahin…
The world felt so much better with U.

Through the tears: to the ears
Eve post Ur #transformation
Tap-tip circle from sleeve
A surreal sensation:

Clasping the intangible…
Age strange-tripping mythical…
(Hadn’t felt U so physical
Since world gone all digital.)

A spiritual circuit…
Full-circle ritual.

Dearly Beloved—

Gathering myself here today
Halo gently down I lay
Such a Long (wide, dense) Play…
Soundwaves inundate my face

Once-upon-a-time hug-tugs
Young girl cuts the shag rug
A wish to hear home…
2 choose her own tones…

Ur songs in our spines style-us
Revolution: We wise up
(Tune in and turn up)
Over time rising proud:
Living Out Loud.

From 7-year-U’s funk psalm
Our hole-2-whole lives long
U bare The Beautiful Ones
We been all along…

A needle lifts up
Secret space between rounds…
I like to imagine
That’s where U are now
(U just can’t be lost! U helped us get found!)

All up 2 me and U
We won’t let U down
I miss Adore thank U
(4 Taking Us With U
[Nothing Compares 2 U])
2 where we belong:

You live through our love.
We love through your songs.



1000 X’s and O’s,

Tanuja D (H)

London, USA, Bombay

7 hours and 13—17 days