The War That We Were Born Into

(I)

We were born in times of war
My mom tells me
Bullets missing my inches
Blood on the streets
People outside army camps.

Sons leaving for school and never coming home
Fathers picked up in the middle of the night
Daughters made to take off clothes in front of mothers
Mothers held, while sons get taken away.

We were born in times of war
My mom tells me
Only a war we never wanted
A war on the outside
That eats us from the inside.

This one time, dad didn’t come home for a week
For there was a curfew outside
Sirens wailed and kids cried
In the dark silent night
All we could here were funeral cries
And surveillance drones.

(II)

I was just a kid when I witnessed my first crackdown
It was the middle of the night
In the bloody summer of 2008
When we heard the knock on the door
They had come
I was a boy of 5
And my cousin was 8
Our mothers hid us in the attic
We prayed that they don’t take us away
We prayed that they don’t find us
They didn’t
Ever since that day
I shiver every time there is a knock.

I spent the rest of my life,
Running from the invisible
Scared of my own shadow.

(III)

I smoked for the first time when I was 7
Not the cheap cigarettes, not the expensive one
I inhaled the smoke from tear gas
And choked and choked and choked.

I saw the first bloodshed when I was 7
The kids in my neighbourhood were protesting
A police van came and thus began the firing
Young boys with stones in hands
And freedom in their eyes
And grown men with blood in their eyes
And guns on their backs.

The boys ran away
Cheering, and in chaos.

A young girl watching from her window
Was shot
She died within moments
I was on the other side of the road
Watching from my window.

(IV)

We were born in times of war
My dad tells me
Houses torn down
Families torn apart
Bunkers set up in the middle of the city
In houses, in schools, in cinemas.

This one time
I was coming back home from school
When we were caught in crossfire
That day I looked death in the eye
That day I heard guns being for the first time
I couldn’t hear anything for weeks
I couldn’t eat anything for days
Without thinking of the blood, I saw on the road.

He tells me stories of his boyhood days
Being a child in downtown
Playing cricket until the army took over the ground.

He tells me of the time when he had to spend a week at office
For there was a curfew outside
He tells me he was more worried about home
Then himself
How there was no phone
No internet
No cars.

Just barrels of guns
We were born in times of war
Only a war we never chose
A war that chose us.

(V)

A few years down the line,
I don’t know what I will tell my kids.

I was born in times of war
My parents were born in times of war
Their parents were born in times of war.

My grandmother doesn’t like to talk about her times
She’s become wary of this war
A war she didn’t want to be born into
A war that stole from her.

All she has to say is,
Wayen gassan akki sate
Khatam Karin soriye.

(They should just bombard the place
Once and for all).

Sauleh, who goes by the pseudonym Chilaikalaan, is an 19-year-old from Srinagar. He is pursuing his bachelor’s in Psychology, Sociology, and English. He spends his free time reading and writing. You can read his other works at medium.com/@chilaikalaan.

Featured image: Pariplab Chakraborty