Vrinda Jotwani


“You have started stitching your words into Kashmir, 

pulling threads from the kashida cushions of this bed, 

your mother buried herself in making you leave this graveyard. 

She tries to convince you to fold your hands into nationalism, 

how could you, you say we have been living far too long as a prisoner in our own home

while I sit on the steps of these narrow steel stairs, accompanying silent pigeons  

I begin counting in Urdu, I begin in Hindi, 

I plead the numbers to stay a while more longer,  s t a y is letting go

I will put the Kehwa to boil, I count in sign language folding my chapped lips into English, come back home, come as guest, come to build a home of sugar lakes over the wooden valleys.

Azaadi, we have been waiting far too long for you.

It isn’t about religion anymore, 

It’s about losing sight and insight, are we still clutching onto Zan and Zamin? What about our lives?

I met you the summer after Kashmir, in the streets where trees meet and our words come alive, simmering off our lips in the heat, but we were back in there 

between blood and bullets somewhere reminiscing 

the days when monsters were only under the bed.

Your mother waits as the pot simmers in anticipation of your arrival, her hands falter, 

saffron falls as the floor becomes crimson.

Bodies entwine there fingers with kashmir, the Dal screams, the Dal sees, do you?

Agony corners me in empty streets where I run into men voicing words for the world, 

while not even in gestures to save you, 

Dal is drowning in grief.

Srinagar is losing tongues, Srinagar is losing sight, 

You are paralysed in zulm.

Tell me how long till there is nothing but crying valley offering bouquets to the graveyard?

You used to find yourself in Pahalgam in summers, 

It awaits your arrival, the deodar wake me up in night and 

demand that you sink your feet into the earth and stay. 

Kashmir is burning, tell me they are listening, tell me they are thinking of us! 

Your skin reeks of bodies and names we haven’t even been given chance to love, 

Your skin sheds itself into million faces who have been buried beneath the kingdom of deodars, 

Your mouth rips apart into words and cries at the howling silence, 

I keep running into politics savouring the blood on its tongue. 

You keep running to nowhere, you voice bounces back through walls, 

What would Shahid say, Agha Shahid Ali knew there was no going back home

Kashmir is my shrine, Look what they have done, 

I know there are varying perspectives to this, but this is how I lose my lover

Kashmir calls out into the bleak night, the Dal sits, the rivers reek of fresh blood, tell many how many brother have cut tonight?”

Vrinda studies English Literature at Shiv Nadar University Delhi. She had interned with Harper Collins and writes poetry in free time

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