by Manjari Thakur

Eight year old Nagma had scars like maps. Throughout her face they sat like stories on pale skin. On that sinful day they had covered their windows with sheets as a shield against the stones. But she had gone to get bread, three yards from home, returned with blood trickling down her face. Fine lines of red and tears mixed in pain. Three winters have passed since. The ‘kahwa’ still tasted bitter. She had lost her mother to the curfew. Her father has abandoned her. ‘Na goli, na gali’ the government had reiterated. A nation without sight. But the scars remain, lodged in her skull and memory. The doctor had taken them all out, pellets, except for one.

And in the same sultry winter of 2016, Naaz had disappeared into the behemoth of concrete. And the city had closed its bazaars into the frantic eyes of his mother.  There were protests, and a media uproar until it had settled into Delhi calm. The autos ply on the street not knowing, never listening.  And in a broken Kashmir household, there were whispers of death. The Dal has frozen since and Jhelum forgot to dance. Four years hence, his mother carefully imagines his face with every breath. Questions gather around her disjointed motherhood, her fossils of memory.

Manjari Thakur is currently an MPhil research scholar at Jadavpur University, India. She has completed her Masters in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. Her research interests lie in trauma studies, prison literature, protest literature and politics of violence in the Indian subcontinent. Apart from research, she occasionally enjoys writing a poem or two.