Today, I write to you from a faraway land
I don’t know when my words will reach you,
If you’ll get to read my letters or my songs.
I hear rumours of men marching towards your city
Men with guns and laathis and power;
Power that controls us, tortures us,
leaves us powerless in our own motherland.
I don’t remember the last time I saw Sadaf-
the love of my life- I don’t know where she is,
Or if my songs reach her, still.
My friend! have you seen the monsters
smashing the toys of our children?
Do you hear the cries, the pain
in the cracked voices of mothers
and fathers who have lost their children?
I write to you and pray that you are alive.
I pray that you get to see the sunrise the next morning;
the sun, from the tiny cracks
on the wooden walls of your house;
the house you’re trapped in for the past seven months.
What keeps you alive, Aftaab?
I know not how many houses they have burnt down
Is that old little cottage behind our school still intact?
When did you last hear from the old lady who lives there?
From thousands of miles away,
I picture the land that I call my home—
I see Jhelum when I close my eyes,
I hear the sound of laughter;
the laughter of my mother, my lover,
my friends, and the children in the streets.
I have memories of happiness, of love, of azaadi—
Of everything that we scream for today
Of everything that, I hope one day, will bring back
the colours of the land you and I call home.
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Gayatri Aich is a poet and a dancer. She is a student at the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University. Her performative works are based on the lives of people living in the borders.