(For Chander M. Bhat)


I will come to see your orchards,

your valleys freckled with fear.

I will come to see the beauty

of terror budding on

your saffron fields,

armed men breaking and keeping peace,

history bathing its body

with blood and tears.


I will come to see your tremor

when they shout for a freedom

that can kill, exile and

strip down your skin

with shame.


I will come from the land

laced with palms

and the smell of cloves

to see your saintly peaks shiver

their silver crowns sutured

with pine-thorns of pain.


I will see those ruins

huddling in silence

to be awakened by a distant rustle,

the bustle of your valleys which

exiled happiness long ago,

I will walk your mountain passes

stalked by messiahs of death.


I will come to your

bullet-burnt skies

bleeding in the brim

like a framed traitor.


I will come to see

your mustard fields

where your women

dread to walk alone.

I will haunt your

shikharas every summer to

to smell the scent of

your wanton youth.


I will come to your valley

to write a handful of verses

for your chinar trees,

your walnut trunks

ripe with folklore, to pick

your water chestnuts

before they are buried

under memory’s snow,

our nation’s forgetful snow.