Culture

Poem: Remembering Srinagar in Delhi

If your dreams have dried up / Do not harm our skies. / Find another reason to live.

“I have been cold a long, long time.”
– Agha Shahid Ali, ‘I See Kashmir from New Delhi at Midnight’

As dusk falls over Delhi,
I think of Srinagar.

The birds return home
In Delhi,
Boys have left home
In Srinagar,
Their lives are sealed
By wires,
Their lips are torn
By wires,
Their eyes are barbed
By wires,
Only the air passes,
Laden
With news of the dead,
In burial grounds,
Prayers
Strangulate the air.

I remember the curly haired boy
At Hazratbal,
He agreed to click my
Picture, we smiled
Without exchanging names,
“Quick”, he said,
“Before we catch the guard’s
Attention”,
Like an old friend
From school,
He too loved defying rules
For a strange kind of joy,
And Rehana, in her red scarf,
Said, she liked Haider,
“The film showed
What it could. They tried.”
Considerate grief,
And matter-of-factly,
Her expectations,
Lower than her shoes.
She waves,
As the bus leaves the stop,
I buy some grains
For Hazratbal’s pigeons,
I ignore the beggars.

It is easier to feed birds.

There is no lake that breathes
Life into Delhi, only tombs
Of old desolation,
And the momentary
Peace of gardens,
I remember the Dal
Flowing wearily,
Muttering like an old man
In a state of stupor,
“Go, tell your country,
Stop sending us
The poison that embitters
Our tea, our waters,
If your dreams have dried up,
Do not harm our skies.

Find another reason to live.”

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer and political science scholar. His book Looking for the Nation was recently published by Speaking Tiger Books.

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