A Fairy Tale From a Dystopian Land

Allow me to narrate the fairy-tale of a dwelling,
peopled by “apple-cheeked” mortals
(Legends say the witch poisoned the apple!)
The ghost of the lady who had denounced beauty,
roams around the town in rags
Never does she talk, but in a singsong voice asks:
Bullet Bullet on the wall
Who are the killers of us all?
Her shrieks fall on the ears of few damned, each midnight.

Cheshire’s cat has taken the form of a mad-man here,
manifesting every now and then, he grins at the boy who lived
The company of kinsmen and partisans
resurrects not an inch of him
Everyone’s delight, Mother’s sweetheart dances no more.

The hatter of the land is not so mad
He is as mad as the other dwellers
He weaves skull-caps for a living, prays five times a day
ends each prayer shouting an otherwise hushed wish
It goes unheard, unanswered.

The long-haired maidens
locked somewhere in the mountains
don’t put down their hair through their partially-fire-razed towers,
for the “princes” of the kingdom to conquer
They make the walls tremble with their invocations, in unison
Praying, writing, singing, narrating, they cradle rage
reverberating through streets, across time.

Quratulain Qureshi is a native of Kashmir, currently pursuing her Masters in English Literature.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty