Srinagar

​Where does this sadness stem from?

Who stitches its shadows to the faces in the city?
From which shrine, which fountain does this quietude flow?

Flowers age untimely, the cold summer refuses to leave.
Last spring, we wore a facade of faltering smiles

Tiny buds were breaking into dead flowers.

We had nothing left to harvest.
Not today. 

Today the dusk- over my empty house- sits with its wings opened,

crooning to me the songs of a city Srinagar isn’t.
In the corners of my dreams

distant gunshots still hunt for young flesh.

Their prayers for peace taste of our blood.
But who is this hopeful child

who walks in the streets of the memory tonight?

who demands you sink your feet into the earth and stay.
Cordoned from every sides, a dream has no curfew pass

Even in my memory, the bullets compete for his laugh!

Blood gushes down my corridor. 

Hope flies past the checkpoint. 

Now my palms, too, read to me, my history.

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Humans of Huts

Don’t watch them like you watch a movie. Walk into their homes with the scent of earth in your garments. Stir the pot while they grind their spices, drink their tea, sweep their mud-polished floor, sleep next to them and keep the secrets safe, don’t tell. Please don’t tell. That’s how you learn them, and the others, and yourself.IMG_0815

The Runaway Girl

One:
Doesn’t thunder come home
in the hottest of summer
when the vows are broken and a girl runs away from her home?

You must have adored her gold anklets.
It must have been tinkle in their sound that never gave it away.
Or maybe they shone too darkly in your stone eyes
and blinded you so.
Pray, why else didn’t you see how they weighed her down?

And now she tiptoes down this ghostly town.
while you fret and fondle in your pitch dark beds.

The little light that she’d been kindling
so carefully, so secretly
now guides her out, guides her away!

And how you wish that she was more obedient to you,
and not to her waywardness,
this runaway girl!

Two:
You preach that her mirror should be painted black
Or that they should have hidden away
that jingling pair of her earrings.
You accuse the scent of her nape,
“It must have been her scent that charmed him to take her away.”
What you don’t see
is the possibility
of her eloping
with her reckless rage.

Tonight,
with no man and in no man’s hope
she flees,
this runaway girl!

She has left them behind,
along with a bag full of snakes
-your tantrums and your chains.

The jingling piece earring that you so worry about
(one that makes the lovers meet on the screens)
never left its place.

Three:
You warned her
of her soft brittle bones
of her inadequacies.
You kept in check
her fire, her folly, her unruly itch!

Tonight, the spine of your lies crumble,
her madness escapes and giggles to your face.

Now you recall and you see
that it was your absurdity,
that made her grow,
that made her go.

Now she can fetch stars or powder to stardust.
She may fall freely, she may love herself.

She may also fly to those skies
where opening her wings to wilderness
will be a full-time job.

There are no bad, better or good stories. All stories are beautiful and worth being told. What makes a story unappealing (most of the times ) is how the storyteller tells it. Blame the teller, the screenwriter, the novelist, the filmmaker, the marketer. Not the characters or the stories that they live. 

There’s a war where I come from

​To take home 

for shelves and for memories 

there’s nothing here today. 
But come again tomorrow 

with your bags empty and a longing heart. 

Love-ached, the mountains will hold you back. 
Or rather hope, that night gathers its ruins and flees away. 

Only then, the winter will end 

and we: the children of tomorrow

will probably live out another day. 

Baggage

​Emptied half of my bags on the roads, sung to myself and hopped back home light-hearted. 

But the front door still screeched and the curtains were heavy with my ancient details. I closed the door behind me and the distant music stopped.

Pin. Drop. Silence. 

There are no songs in sighs. 

I weigh heavier at home

Old Recipes

 

For disaster nights, we had this quick recipe!

1. Smoke, from the old fire that wasn’t put out
2. Our slow crickety clocks
3. And hours of caustic silence.


Before going to bed, you craved sweets


you’d latch the windows
feed the fishes
and try to sing me to sleep.
I would sulk and serve a bitter dessert.


Hot summer nights surprised us with cold cocktails.

We shivered in our beds.
The blankets were never warm, neither were you.

We’d sleep in our frozen cocoons,
Waiting for the nights to melt
And when we woke up

we were drenched in each other’s sweat.


You’d see me unguarded on mornings
run your fingers on my collar bones.
and say,
“You hide creatures in your bones, under that skin. Birds and beasts. Give in. Baby, give in! ”

I would pull the sheets over my shoulders

cover myself up
head to toe
cocooned in 

rescuing from a stranger who read my bones.

Questions, slept like ghosts between us.

Questions, made love to our indifference, on our own bed.
That was my disaster recipe for the next day.


Then the winters took our sleep and the spine of our home collapsed.
We left the fishes hungry
The aquarium froze

And the clock stopped ticking.

The stories had cooked us well.

Seven years of cocooning
now you sit next to me
cross-legged
in this stupid city library

your hairline has receded
I’ve painted my hair wine red
the colour that you hated so much.

now you sit next to me
laughing at our old pictures
in this stupid city library.


And you look at me.
you look at me as if you’re still 22
as if the fishes found a canal to the ocean and lived
as if our lips still taste like clouds and our sheets still fresh

You look at me


and you look at me like we are still in love.

Are we?

Children of Kashmir

I know of a stillborn Floweret. Washed in brown, shaken to ground before the Sun could have flung it open. Now Summer is past the ghastly stunts of Wind. Summer is untimely aging.

But, I know of an incoming caravan towed by time. In one of the carriage, Spring patiently weaves a soft pink dream to redeem, for a cousin of Breeze.

The months shall brood, until.