Four poems by Anukriti Pandey

Anukriti
A View of Dal Lake - Photo by Anukriti Pandey

The four self-reflexive poems by a Mumbai based screenwriter Anukriti Pandey are her reflections and dreams about Kashmir; a place of both pain and beauty.  

I was in my mother's womb when I visited Kashmir for the first time. I think my love story with the place started then. Because when I visited it for the first time (technically) in March 2015, I thought I've come home. Yes, there is no other way to describe that feeling. I felt love and a sense of loss as I roamed the streets of Srinagar. I really wish we can all collectively work towards peace coming back to the Valley. Kashmir is an emotional question for me, not a political one. 

My poetry is very self-reflexive. It maps my personal history over the larger social history. 

My poem It's Snowing in Kashmir was a result of an early morning dream I had after reading all the posts of my friends in Kashmir who were celebrating the onset of an early snow. I have never seen snowfall. And I am apprehensive if I will ever be able to celebrate seeing one in Kashmir without the shadow of the conflict and human tragedy in general. "Will it be now, will it be ever"

Conversations again is about a sentiment that we have all been feeling. It is about human-induced terror in any land, anywhere in the world. Kashmir is no stranger to a constant overarching danger and how precarious human life has become. Any quarrel or misunderstanding between two people is put into perspective when we live in a world like that. 

Not Recorded is about the times of curfews, a scenario unfortunately very well recognised in Kashmir. The poem is set in 1942 when my Grandfather as a final year medical student couldn't save his younger brother because of the whole country being under curfew. 

The Heart is a Wireless Hunter is a particularly modern poem and reads very well in the context of the Valley which sees an immediate internet lockdown at the slightest of incidents. What happens to love and metaphors in an era of modern technology and censorship. 


It’s Snowing in Kashmir

It’s snowing
in your homeland.
The branches white
with their white leaves
the ground beneath
in the photos all white.

I was there once
in your homeland
It was the year of
Chillai Kalan and
I loved your people
Your poetic names for
Winters harsh
Warm hearts
beating next to the Kangris
inside the Pherans
that cover a lifetime
of stories.

I waited for Sheen
the word that melts
in the mouth in the ears
Your word for Snow.
While you grew up
with the Mountain
I grew up
with the River when
Snow was Russian Folk Tales
Hardbound from the Book-Fair
Poor Lucy Gray in the Ballads
Ebenezer Scrooge’s psychosis
in the Christmas Carol, it was
Ted Hughes and Pamuk.
But it was
never on my palm
or at the tip of my lashes
Always loved and never met
Me and Snow.

Will it be now
Will it be ever?
That moment when
nothing is remembered,
all is forgotten
the pain, the horror, the conflict?
Will there be enough white
to cover
every other colour?
Will I see you
Will I see Sheen
Will it be forever? 

 

CONVERSATIONS

As I blinked my eyes at my dim phone screen
at my half waking up ritual
after yet another sleepless night, I saw
you have ‘marked yourself safe.’

Safe. From What.

Not another one, God, please.
These days we think of the worst, first.
This is no paranoia
This is our time. Our phase.
Death is not sporadic anymore
Sorrow is increasingly becoming mundane though.

I see you have marked yourself safe. Again
my mind goes back to you
and not the tragedy which
will bleed on and off line
till the next calamity.
I am not a jerk, I
Just take history very personally.

We haven’t spoken for a very long time.
Primarily because you have chosen not to.
We flit around in our virtual worlds
Fit in each others' ‘friendslists’
because that’s what modern equations do.

I see it yet again.
Yes, Safety Marked, but
Before a sense of relief
goes down my spine
an electric current of a ‘what if?’
And I feel my heart bursting
with the thought of
Words unsaid
Chai/s unshared
Stories untold.

And suddenly about your silence
your reticence
No more do I care.
A line
saying
You Marked Yourself Safe
every single time,
is all I ever really want to
see and hear.

 

NOT RECORDED

When the all-powerful Ravana had thrown a feast,
They had declined smugly;
-my ancestors
Unlike those that crossed the Sarayu
and accepted the Antagonist's hospitality.
My eight-year old brain thought of the delicacies
My centuries-removed Grandfather must have missed
as I heard this oft-repeated tale
of existence and pride and Kannauj
and its migrants of the highest order.

In some stories Raja Bhoj made a guest appearance
as the patron of the Brahmin
Of the Grandfather who was a scholar
And interpretor
of texts that still designed the equation
between me and the maid's children.

Finally the folklores came down
to the only Grandfather
I have ever really known.
The bright young man
The quiet doctor
The silent healer
he heard about his younger brother
getting Meningitis.

The physician, the brother
unable to manoeuvre
the curfews, the limitation
which an occupied land faces
while its favourite leader calls Quit India,
lost to time.
And the revolutionary paraphernalia.
...The younger brother died
as the country burned.
The silent mourner now swore
never to leave the hinterland.

And then 'Doctor Babu'
who had nothing to do
with declining invitations
or reading scriptures
spent his entire life serving the Village
which was to become part of
many my summer vacations,
taught me without ever teaching me
how immensely personal
History really is
And how Sociology
can peter out
to an aching heart
for a sibling lost.


THE HEART IS A WIRELESS HUNTER

The dotted circle goes round and round
'Waiting to reconnect'
right above your name
right below mine
              somewhere between us.

I picture zillions of codes green in colour
blind and expressionless
flying about in cyberspace
in their attempt
to give us…
Togetherness?

I wait to reconnect.

I hum while waiting. A song
whose beginning i cannot recall
just like our story
which seems to have begun in the middle.
In the middle? From the middle?

Why is there no autocorrect for metaphors!

Why don’t machines totally take over
My mind drifts when
the wait becomes longer and longer.

I think of the time when all I saw was
’typing typing typing’
before your ’text’ had torn me apart
as it appeared in the box
which I have preserved in the 'archives’
Not quite unlike Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence.
Or I like to flatter myself
sprinkling literature
as virtual art.

That symbol which looks
shamelessly ironically
like black rainbows
in ascending order,
Suddenly gives me a sign
And
begins to disappear
one arc at a time.

’Connection Lost’

I shrug and 'run diagnostics'
while my machine 'looks for networks'
And
I
look for You. ♦



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