After I stone the neighbour’s
windows, I close my eyes.
It is 1999. I am 7 & this
will remain proof
some crimes are forgiven.
In a siege, Kashmiris say, dilliwallahs
will die in 10 days. And Kashmiris?
They barrel rations for months.
Monika, I too live alone & press
heavy furniture against the doors.
If they come for me, it will still look
like I walked into their jaws
& collapsed the teeth-gate behind me.
At 4:53 PM (I remember because one
day the police will ask me) in June
when the sun burns the brightest
a man follows me in his car, not
afraid to be seen. If I disappear,
ask the autowallahs in the vicinity
who have watched out for me.
My friend flips off a security guard
when he asks her to drive slow.
A gaali is not a gun but men running
toll booths at night or patrolling the
perimeters of gated colonies are often
the first to die & my friend’s hand remains
on the gearbox, in control of her life.
When I release a stone, I learn
an elbow is a fulcrum & an arm
tilted back a matter of
applying a physics concept
to a power play.
On a dry riverbed in South Kashmir,
a group of ten year olds use a log
to form a blockade. Why have you come?
For the millet that grows in your tehreek,
for pulses that rise in unforgiving weather.
The terrace is where
the tank is & the window
is with vine & an eye
cannot always be an eye
& this is what a shadow
uses to climb.
Monika, to stop grieving I dreamt
your jasmine branches turned
into wrought iron beams &
curled his neck as he slept.