by Basant Rath
Srabanee, this is Srinagar.
Here we’ve got Friday, snow and streets.
Nineteen is only a number.
Chinars are tall here and stones are small.
Srabanee, hatred is not all
we’re up to on the streets here.
Not every neighbour is an informer.
Not every day ends in wringing of a few necks.
Not every Ramadan comes without rumours
of our missing sons and brothers .
We’ve learnt from our experience –
the need to forget and the gift of acceptance.
You’ll hear how we say
“Sheen Mubarak” to our neighbours
when we get the first snowfall of the season
and how we celebrate our weddings
among the ruins and the checkpoints.
Srabanee, we’ve got Friday prayers here.
Srabanee, we play tennis ball cricket on our streets.
And on a protest day, we throw stones at cops
and get a few bullets on our legs and arms.
We don’t die. We don’t kill, Srabanee.
Here it is neither moon nor mountains.
Curses don’t reach. Prayers freeze.
Oh Srabanee, my first love, my last death,
stay here, take a round.
The chinars are much elder to you.
They will humour you with their stories
of forty seven, eighty nine and ninety four.
Nineteen will remain silent. It is just a number.
The chinars will tell you the stories
of mothers whose foreheads carry prayer marks
as heavy as the weight of a missing son.
Their sons who loved Kamachi shoes
didn’t return from schools.
Where are these sons now, you ask?
They are on the placards their mothers hold
before the TV cameras. Each of them.
One face holding another.
When did these sons go missing, you ask?
Srabanee, in Nineties. Nineteen is silent.
Like a grave without a headstone.
(A J&K cadre IPS officer, Basant Rath is a poet.We have lifted this poem from his facebook)