Immersion Stories: Iain McKelvey

“Bihar” is a poem written by UTS student, Iain McKelvey

I saw a snapshot of your people standing in New Delhi Railway Station, each of your trains seemingly enchanted shooting mysteries in every direction. The rolling carriages sung me your lullaby of sleep, while your sunlight enveloped my being to wake me in Bihar, the beginning of the North East. Some call this area forgotten; a crisp morning in Patna reveals a hidden fragility masked by the orchestration of horns. 6am, the meet and greet.

You taught me a hard lesson while watching a puppies distressing fall to death, life moves quickly but always offer respect to the dead. Kindly though you took my worries and decayed them into dust, swirled them past the windows, bouncing off buildings lilting in the sun. In Saurath I felt my own perceptions unwind, unfurl. The unbridled gaze of a child imbued with innocence, left stranded in eternity upon the click of my camera. Her fire raging as we share each others intrigue, hers powerful enough to edge past my defences and rework my constitution.

I sat with men holding court to discuss the inner sanctum of their village, and you let me weep with your women so full of power and compassion that even Shiva quivered. I strode through fields both plentiful and sparse dodging loose ground and cobras while your sun warmed my back. Your rivers and ponds now holding passive pools, evidence the monsoon missed its mark.

The streets of your villages splay off like varicose, an ever deepening maze where a goats bleat cuts through the scent of dung cakes and hay piles lining streets. Eyes peering at me through rainbow Sari’s or the safety of a curtained window, it is understood my complexion makes me a brief celebrity.

My palms connecting in a greeting, one returned in favour, augmented with a shy smile. We are friends linking like we were lost long ago, laughing together in to the beautiful unknown.

Naïvely I came to help but it was you who did the helping. Constructing dirt castles with emotions, the burden held by the banks of the sweeping Ganga.


Your people burn bright like lysergic fireflies, etched in my mind long after their light subsides. May your voice remain brazen your touch forever maternal, your beating heart benevolent and your instinct indisputably untamed. Here a partnership is forged, you proffered your heart on the promise I would come back. The explosive pressure change will settle, my friend, a country will remain.

Your sand running through my fingers, the unspoken arrangement, two shapes dancing in the rain.

More from Iain here…

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