By Archita Mittra
A Day In Kashmir
you were born in a world of rainbow
mountains and whimsical skies, learning
to swim in sunrise-stained lakes
and rivers forged of snow-ice, pure
as mother’s love. you had a name
to belong to and a history to protect.
you who lived in the dreams of god
and walked in fields sans borders.
this is how you remember childhood,
a remnant of a past life or a half-forgotten
dream that you keep alive by painting
it over and over, till you believe fiction
as fact. this is how you live, watching
someone die each day for no reason
that you bring to life each night, in your
re-constructed past, that they burnt down
the way they burnt down your home,
with children inside, on a midsummer
night, when the skeletal forests longed
to become their own funeral pyre,
when the barren mountains turned blacker
with smoke and shame, hiding their ashen
snow-capped faces, the way a woman
in a veil is taught to avert her eyes,
to never look upon, or feel, even the dying
embers of love. each morning, when you
iron the uniform they force you to wear
and remember the name they branded
on your skin and look into the mirror
hoping to see someone else, you see
their screams and hear the blazing fire
you were cowardly enough to not throw
yourself in. they gave you a new history
to learn and repeat, a country to hate
and a religion to secretly blaspheme in
( in return). you’ve learnt the hard way
that to be patriotic is to destroy what you hold
dear, that love is worse than smoke or drink
that dreams are letters from the devil, that life
is a nightmare where you burn, burn, burn.
when you notice that ‘dream’ and ‘death’
have five letters each
love, life and fear
are only four-letter words
claim to swear by.
all words are only a black-faced pretext
to fill up the
e m p t y
s p a c e s
in the dusty, abandoned
parking lots of your heart.
terror-stricken, you hid in dusty cupboards
and alibis of people someone else dreamed-up.
dust motes are dancing in the ancient sunlight
and the rooms are quiet as coffins.
years later you’ll remember childhood as dust
in your hair, a girl weeping on a sun-blistered
terrace, counting clouds and wondering
if the sky had feelings.
the rains were late that year, and you
were so impatient to grow up. stuffed
animals became voodoo dolls. the empty
house creaked with monsters. the moon
swallowed you up. you were that sort who
only loved the characters who hated themselves.
they lived and withered within you, growing
into shadows and dark corners
full of ancient dust. you were so terrified
of hide and seek, of the days when they
could never find you, and you waited
and waited, till you were sure,
quite sure that you had never been there at all,
that you were only the desperate dream of a dust
mote on a dry summer’s night, longing for rain
or darkness to fall, fall, fall
Archita Mittra is a wordsmith and visual artist with a love for all things vintage & darkly fantastical. She occasionally practices as a tarot card reader. You can read more of her work here.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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