Letters to Toru

How is Kashmir, Toru?

Dear Toru,

my letters to your brother

elaborate on how our colony was burnt.

Remember our colony, Toru?

The man-holes, the electric wires?

The transformer would explode every other day.

 

I’ll let you rummage through the letters

once I return.

I am gradually getting accustomed

to the life in Batanagar.

 

It is empty,

silent,

and so poignant in the evenings.

The bus takes almost an hour to move

from one stop to another.

 

Things I do to be in the outskirts.

 

How is Kashmir, Toru?

How well have you progressed

with Azadi?

Every day in Kolkata,

she suggests to go there,

 

And, every night I respond:

one day, one day.

 

I will go to Kashmir very soon,

Toru,

help you start the fire.

 

So strange that only yesterday,

 

completely wasted,

 

I should be thinking

how close to fulfillment

our dreams have finally come…

We’ll probably fight it out this time.

 

Teach me to cry Azadi, Toru…

Here too, in Batanagar,

I hear the Azaan every evening.

I remember when I was fourteen,

my father made me listen to it

for the first time.

Days I somehow don’t wish

to go back to.

 

Have you read Mahmoud Darwish, Toru?

It’s brutal to try to find

poetry in Gaza, he says.

I used to tell you poetry is in their blood,

in their survival,

and you would laugh.

What made you laugh, Toru?

 

Is it Winter in Kashmir yet?

Shahid used to live there

while still young.

Then he moved to America

and eventually died.

Have you heard of Shahid, Toru?

 

I have been meaning to pack my bags

this time,

and run to you.

Your brother’s letters are still kept

under the bed.

The shoe-box is a hundred years old,

 

And, the letters only two.

 

While still dithering about

going to Kashmir,

I’ve forgotten how to cry Azadi.

The university days are almost over.

The tea-stalls are almost always shut.

 

Will you again

teach me to cry Azadi, Toru?

 

I am coming to Kashmir, Toru

I am coming to Kashmir, Toru.

I have finally packed my bags,

and hoping to get back to you

in the next few days.

 

Your brother has always been

too bothered

about the mass-graves in Baramullah.

I will go there,

Toru,

 

and, standing at the graves,

I will try to seek for

1971, Jessore Road

going along Gulshan,

 

and going all the way

to somewhere in native Foridpur.

 

Toru,

When you impose pain

upon yourself,

do you still get to say

it hurts?

I am trying to be someplace in the middle.

And, getting stuck every time.

 

How is our Refugee neighbourhood?

 

By the Dal, we’ll meet

like we used to

all those times we’d burn all the flowers

in some diabolic happiness

 

and return grinning

to each other.

 

Since it is November,Toru,

I’d love to see our hills…

I’m only imagining their existence

from here, in Batanagar,

scared that I have missed out on so much.

 

Toru, with Azadi I end this letter.

Naubahar is coming…

I am finally coming to you.

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