Downtown, my Beloved

Benish Meraj

My love for old city evolved similarly the way my love for my beloved did!

I crossed these alleys every day, like every girl in high school, I would walk lazily through these decorated lanes, not necessarily of laziness but lingering through every shop to watch endlessly to-be brides with their friends and family choosing Vardan, cosmetics, spices.

I remember I would often stop at a Lehanga shop and see brides going upstairs, it fascinated me always “it seemed to be the hole of Alice in Wonderland” and I kept thinking which color she would choose.

As a teen, I too would imagine myself in wearing a dark velvety maroon one and that’s it! That imagination brought enough happiness to survive hot sun till home.

But today unlike my adolescence when I walk down the same places where once I imagined happiness, I stare to everything and some inner peace is brought by these vacant shops,

No brides checking in,

No fathers bargaining spices,

No sisters choosing dresses, Handbags!

This emptiness resembles exactly to a newer version of me, who is no more fascinated by the idea of “happy endings” or “togetherness” I was pleased not to feel sad for that younger me, with pure, innocent dreams which no more exist!

I fell in love with the smell of spices, I fell in love with that old bridge where often I would see myself in Jehlum and feel good about the hijab pin, the new lip gloss, new clutch and any such small thing.

I fell in love with that bridge; I could see it with processions, protests, funerals, dancing Baraat and Milad! It was equally unhappy and happy too, but it never faded, never collapsed. I fell in love with old buildings still smelling of Pandits and their Haihrat! I fell in love with everything except the idea of togetherness! I fell for you again!

I’ve found you in rumbles, ruins, palaces, buses, in colleges, on empty benches!

See we are together but grownups now and stupidity appeals no one!

But I can see you walking down the old city, singing and here no one take you from me. Even if this way you are taken, I’ll go to the mountains, to hills, to deserts, to foreign universities, to refugee camps. Zuv do not worry I’ll find ways to love you! The way you’ll find ways to recall my name


Benish Meraj is a law student law based in Kashmir.


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