Do not write about people getting killed
Do not write about kids getting shot
Do not write about women getting sexualised
Do not write the truth

Do not photograph the truth
Do not videograph the truth
Do not speak the truth
Do not see the truth

Don’t speak
Don’t look
Don’t hear
Don’t do

Stand back and watch
Hold your breath
Stay silent
Close your eyes

Self-censor your work
Don’t publish your work
Don’t get into trouble
Be neutral

Be neutral
Because someone is watching you
Because someone is following you
Because someone knows where you are

Don’t talk to a stranger
Don’t be part of the discourse
Don’t share your opinions
Don’t read your poetry out loud

Don’t read your poetry out loud
Because someone has their eyes out on you
Because someone knows where you sit
By the Jhelum
Puffing cheap cigarettes

They know it’s you
Because they see you
And your family
And your lover

Don’t even talk to your friends
You don’t know who is working with who

Be neutral
Write about hope
And love

Write whatever you want to write
Except for the truth.

Sauleh, who goes by the pseudonym Chilaikalaan, is a 19-year-old from Srinagar. He is pursuing his bachelor’s in Psychology, Sociology, and English. He spends his free time reading and writing.

Featured image: Pexels