This is from the time I decided that I didn’t need Geography in my life. It didn’t work itself out as easily as the integration of three rainless summers, bounded by class eleven to sophomore year. It didn’t meld with my blood flow with the voice of T. S. Eliot speaking of how people come and go, talking of Michelangelo.
All I knew, was that when I stood facing the Pir Panjal range, beyond where the sand slowly became snow, your new residence stood on my left.
My left, like the hand which never helped me write metaphors on your skin, but still holds the warmth of your sweaty palm from five summers ago. Out of bounds, mathematically, poetically, geographically.
This is from the time the wasteland beside our house was a lush green playground, the time when I couldn’t hold a badminton racquet steadily; the time my brother called you his brother.
After you were gone, I heard my father tell my brother that you couldn’t have been his brother – because there was no blood relation.
Now, these infinite summers later, when he looks back on the infinite wars, I wonder, does he not see the blood?
This is from the time I wanted to run away.
I would lie back in humid nights, in a neighbourhood infested with buildings arranged brick-wise, swallowing every wisp of grass and every mark of bare feet running around in mud. In the matrix of windows on top of windows, the multitudinous sounds of pain would combine into the late night thumri program on the radio.
Every scar of the partition was covered with a thousand Band-Aids from a thousand new families setting up house in the dusty corners which once held memories.
Somewhere around that time, when the new books were made, and new songs were sung, people began to believe that there was no tender flesh beneath all the packaging of history.
And I wanted to run away, but the roads, the signs and the maps were a mess.
This is from the time I found religion in the mountains.
I found constancy in the way the light fell on the Pir Panjal, the Zanskaar, the Stok Kangri –
The light that wasn’t broken by periods or timelines.
The light that held the footprints made on snow like marks of love.
The light that slowly travelled westward and knocked on your window before you woke up.
For some helpless moments, I thought that I could imbibe some of the winds and fragrances into your letters, and have this light be my postman.
This is from the time I decided that I didn’t need you in my life.
I needed to grow older, wiser, stay within my boundaries.
From that empty shelf in my soul, I still hear the dust calling out to books that I have outgrown. It is that void which contains the skin that hasn’t taken off the drenched cotton shirt, the feet that haven’t taken off the black ballerina shoes, and the poems that can never have enough of your shadows;
From race to gender to colour to creed, our countries which can never have enough borders;
From fear to friendship to love to politics, these boxes which can never have enough letters.
photography by Satyaki Sarkar