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
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?
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