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Are The Postboxes There, White?


If a letter was written here today,

with my pen, stained with sighs,

would it reach somewhere if I

addressed it just “To The River Jhelum,

P.O. Srinagar”? Not knowing who

deserves to read, or who does not–

a meaningless apology written

                   in the pitiable hand 

                                  of a voiceless man 

                                                       of this hollowed country.


Would it still be sent to the post office?

And will they risk breaking Tradition

                to open a letter not addressed to them?

                Surely, it will be a new thing.

If personal letters were opened in the post office

of Srinagar, would they have not brought

down its roof with grief by now?

And we would have seen on the news

                 that wondrous post office high up

in the exotic mountain state,

somehow flooded with saltwater,

so far from the sea.


I wonder who would open it,

if somehow it did end up reaching?

Would the postmaster be a man in

Camouflage habit, having replaced khakhi

                 as rumours grew of dangerous letters –

                 weapons, laced with poisonous couplets.


Would they wear hazard suits, anticipating

                explosive lines to burst out of the envelope?

Do bomb squads now deliver letters to houses?

Or do they just shut them in a vault,

                 for the safety of the intended recipient?

No. That would be madness.


What about the house, so used to

                  the tears of loss? Does it well up

upon the sight of a Khakhi man at the door,

                there to give something instead of taking

Or is it stunned with irony?

Can a letter with all that it may say,

                 ever compare to the silent

                                    presence of its sender instead?

Maybe the house prefers the letter?

Not having to worry about

another inhabitant 

                  Going out on a sunny day,

                                    and not coming back.

Are some of the houses there red—

It being economical to paint the walls once,

                 And let the splatter of new shades

                 Added every other week, just blend in?

                                 More aesthetic too, than patchy repaint?

Are the post boxes there white?

For all the condolences they must carry.


What if the postmaster of Srinagar –

                 dutiful before reasonable or human – decided

to fling my letter off Zero Bridge, into Jhelum?

And the ink made the blue a tinge deeper.

As my words seeped into the water, got

                 picked up by the clouds, and fell

                                   over the valley—tiny drops of sorrow.


If my sorry words rained in Kashmir long enough,

would they douse the ever-burning Chinar trees?

Or would 


                               the Jhelum 

                                                 bloated with sorrow and anger and blood

                                                                                                       swallow them again and sigh

Kartikay is a 26 years old bilingual poet from Kanpur (UP) with his heart by the sea in Mumbai. Returning to poetry after a hiatus of half a decade, he has been writing with The Quarantine Train and is currently traversing voices, themes and forms – while writing and translating in English or Hindustani. His original work has been featured in Narrow Road Journal and The Alipore Post, while Usawa Literary Review has showcased his translation of a contemporary Hindustani poem

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