Snow in Srinagar
The radio says it has snowed in Srinagar.
The first snow is cause for celebration:
mother lighted the wooden stove in the kitchen
and unwrapped packets of beans and dried vegetables and
to make the feast. And we hurried into the backyard
dragging our wooden slippers through the snow
throwing snowballs until it was time to take
packed boxes of steaming food and gifts
to the neighbours and relatives to spread merrymaking;
and we received similar things in exchange.
After our snowfights were over we watched
from the window the boatwomen hurrying
across the embankment to the kulcha shop
and heard the labourers pushing the overloaded carts
to mutual exhortations
across the slush of the broken pavement.
Down a flight of steps
the samovar was ever ready
with hot moghal chai and sweet kulchas.
In the evening in the big room,
wrapped in blankets over our pherans,
new kangris with painted wickerwork were started,
and as we waited for father to return from work
we listened to grandfather's tales
and the conversation between mother, aunt, and
from the kitchen.
The dinner done by the faint light of the electric bulb
we heard the day's accounting
as the thalis were cleaned with saudust and ash.
When my feet were cold
my father took them under his blanket
and warmed them with the warmth of his own feet.
Who knew then that decades later a terror will come to
and I will be unable to see my home where I was born
where we had played cowries on many new snows.
The terrorists want us to bury our past
forget the deeds of our ancestors.
We are banished because we remember
tales that grandfathers told us
because we remember