Of War and Letters
Ammu, this war has swallowed whole both our hearts and our sanities, shifting quick and rebellious under days and nights of ruin and fear and the sound of bullets throwing away 2-inch sized barrels and laying waste to a thousand lives, all of which I am to become a part of.
The last time we met you said we were strong enough for this cataclysm; that we could pause through the carnage with our hands tied to each other’s and our lives stilled inside a home; that the madness of our love was stronger than the madness of war and that the little dome of desperation we would create for ourselves could withstand the devastation outside us.
But today, my love, the war has come to take me away.
Ammu, is it not better to love without sight or grandness or thought for consequences?
Today, I saw the poet whom we once loved, dead, with a letter that he had written to his daughter in the end, and his dust-laden exercise book, half-soaked in his own blood, that bore witness to his life’s work.
Maybe centuries later when this dreaded turmoil ends and this city rises from its own ruins, his poems will have been mysterious lores of love and tragedy, and maybe our distant ancestors will have read the poem he once wrote about us.
But today, his body lies on the cold metal bench near our chowk, his skull cracked wide at two places and his blood all over the cemented pavement by the streets that had homed him for decades.
Ammu, our mornings together have dissolved under this dense smog of religion and hatred and history that has vowed to keep us apart, that has blindsided an entire generation against peace, that has widowed a million wives and sacrificed a million sons. This is our war, Ammu, fought for people like you and me, for love, for freedom, for goodness; and tomorrow, I must go.
I have always said that if ever the spaces in between our hearts should widen far enough for us to start losing pieces of memories of each other and what the other tasted like, then I would write to you a letter; and though we have always hoped that I would never have to, our destinies have finally brought us here today where I put down the very last ounce of my life in this letter to you, and have my death await me in the battlefield on the other side, tomorrow.
I am afraid to die, Ammu. I am afraid of a death that has teeth sharper than yours and an oblivion more inevitable than our love.
Ammu, I am afraid that the world will tear itself apart to shreds and that all that will be left of us is this letter that I now write with trembling hands, waiting and hoping with all my desperation for my dreams to take me to you one last time.
Then, I must go, Ammu, I must go…
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