Why is it Always Day?

We’ve waited long
For this day.
Cold as an imaginary steel blade grazing
At my neck
Every time I am standing in a queue
Before the butcher’s shop.

There are laughable
Trinkets
We had gathered the last time
We were at the Jama Masjid
Talking, looking at kids playing
With their rainbow coloured
Balloons.
Today the stone corridors are fraught
With passing strangers praying
For hope.
Their knees rubbed raw.

We were just one kiss away from
Romanticism
When the sirens bellowed in playful
Extravagance. And everything
You said to me was swallowed
In the coming throes
Of mishap.
Why is it always day
Where I left you, Ghazal?

Why is it always sunshine?
Even when the thunderous roar of treachery and intended pain
Bites into our jugular.
Only to leave an ugly hickey
Where your roaming
Kisses used to be.
Why is it always daylight?
If it happened at night,
At least we could have forgotten it
Entirely.
Called it nightmares
And embraced the dawning day
As our shared
Reality.

But the days in Peshawar
Are dusty with smoke
Of noisy guns.
I would’ve preferred
Sparrows
Bickering over spoilt food grains.
And even if they
Died,
In the cold

It’d probably be blameless.

 

Children of War

I’ve been bedridden for so long
It hurts a little
Every time I turn left.
There is a lull in the hours before dawn
That even night faring owls are afraid
To break.
No matter how important
A song they have
To sing.

I can tell you, here from my bed
When the four in the morning
Stillness
Wets the blades of grass
With drool and sips.
There is always a peculiar smell that accompanies
Those moments.
And the smell reeks of half formed plans

Of a getaway
Hurriedly stowed away under
Larger books of learning war

We were not like this always,
Shahed.
There were sleepy nights too
Too sleepy to call back
Lovers
Awake at odd hours
To trace on their thighs words
Of passion.

Even if you remove passion
From the night,
You cannot deny that there is always a scent of dead flowers

that litters my bedside
While you sleep.

Under five watt deem yolk yellow lights
Policemen leave welt marks
Under your toes
And the bridge of your nose
That held pair of horn rimmed old spectacles
Was spitting blood every time you lifted your head.

Nights I string together
Writing letters and letters of asking
How they treat you.
You didn’t write me back.
Your knuckles were too weak to hold your lover’s palm
How would you hold a pen then?

The grief of death has long
Surpassed us,
Shahed.
We have been called children of war so readily
And that somehow gave enough license
To hold press conferences
Much to the chagrin of refuge seeking
Citizens.

There is no end to this, Shahed.
Just like there was no beginning.

Just a silence that flows with us.
And dies down,
With the sound of marching trumpets
As they echo against the world.

 

To Nazma, a Last Letter.

1.
Cold water tastes bitter on the tongue
And cold food
Doesn’t taste
At all.
You are down
To your last shawl
Nazma,
This winter
We breathe our last.

2.
You have always called me a tourist
Who doesn’t know how
The sunlight works
Under your bed.
It makes maps
Of places,
We have
Inhabited
With seven buried
Lifetimes.

 

Boatman’s Song

Karim chacha rows his shikara every dawn
Over the frozen lake
On the hull he keeps
Blooming orchids.
On the oars he keeps
His fates.
His beard is testament
Of our affection
And epitaph
To our belonging.

If I could’ve taken with me
Memories of our
Life together
I’d carry your voice first
And your crystal blue
Gaze, second.
The portraits of knights
That adorned my bedroom
Never turned me on
As much as your whisper did.

Our name sounded like canons
In my mouth

Canons that signalled
The end of a war.
And in our hearts
Was a warzone
Where mortar shells exploded
Seventy eight hours
Ninety minutes
And two days
Every week.

Kashmir has blocked all my letters
From entering its bloodstream.
It has listed me
As an intruder
To its privacy.

It has put me on a boat
To reach the deepest end of the lake
And sink behind the wall of creepers
That grows in the waters
Waters, which cleanse your
Genitals
Off late night love affairs.

 

Nilesh Mondal

Nilesh Mondal is an engineer. His works have been published in  Inklette, Cafe Dissensus, In Plainspeak and Textploit. His first book of poems titled Degrees of Separation is forthcoming from Writers Workshop in 2017..

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