Counting Breath

Once the air used to be a
sneaky wayfarer around here,
smuggling scandals, yellowed
and dank with weight. It walked into
Open-door baradaris before slipping
out to bazaars to fuse with
sizzling meat smoke. Passersby
greedily gulped and spat it out.

Once, during August afternoons,
when monsoon licked the
city’s streets silver, the air
danced wearing jamun
ittr. School boys envied
its pneumatic caprice. Girls
fell in love. Purkaif, the poet
called it in his ghazal.

Freedom fluttered atop the
air once. A thousand pigeons
rode on its wave. From the
ramparts of a fort, a blue sun
hoisted itself. The air’s laughter
archived regime changes, turbaned
pageantry, the vaccuity of
promises. Its daze measured
the distance between when
freedom came to when
it became a fossil.

Once.

The air is held hostage now.
Hemmed in by a spiralling
fortress. Grey, black. It
wrestles and gasps. Dead
birds circle its grave. Little
children wear masks to school.

2 thoughts on “Counting Breath

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s