For someone who'll read this
500 years from now
How are you?
I am sure a lot has changed
between my time and yours,
but we're not very different,
you have only one thing on me -
I have all these questions for you:
Do cars fly now?
Is Mumbai still standing by the sea?
How do you folks manage without ozone?
Have the aliens come yet?
Who from my century is still remembered?
How long did India and Pakistan last?
When did Kashmir become free?
It must be surprising for you
looking at our time,
our things must seem so strange to you,
our wars so little,
our toilets for 'men' and 'women'
must make you laugh
our cutting down of trees
would be listed in your 'Early Causes'
our poetry in which the moon is still
a thing far away
must make you wonder, both for that moon
and for the poetry.
You must be baffled,
that we couldn't even imagine
the things you now take for granted.
But let that be,
would you do me a favour,
for 'old time's sake'?
Would you go to the Humayun's Tomb
in what used to be Delhi
and just as you're climbing the front staircase,
near the fourth rung, I have cut into
the stone wall to your left -
'Akhil loves Rohit'
Will you go and see it?
Just that, go see it.
When Farida Khanum
she does not hide the age
in her voice,
she wraps it in paisleys,
and for a moment
holds it in both of her hands,
she drowns it in our sky.
When she sings now,
that at the end of that note
when her voice breaks
like a wishbone,
he will stay.
Near Eros Cinema, Jangpura Extension,
the woman from Cameroon
greets three white girls in
French, I hear "deux ans, vous?"
The rickshaw-guy from
Darbhanga asks the Lajpat
aunty to pay more, she makes a मूंह.
The house broker from
Jhung, who's been here sixty
years, finds landlords for all the new
lawyers from Lucknow or
Chennai, or Philly or Austin.
The shop-cleaner from Muzzafarpur,
watches the bill-board with
a 50 year old hero and a 20
year old heroine that he will woo.
The taxi-guy from Greater-
-Noida is trying to find M
Block at midnight and cursing U-
-BER. And I am walking with his
hands in mine, feelin' here-&-now
and also a no-where-in-particular.
Akhil Katyal is a writer and translator based in Delhi. His first book of poems 'Night Charge Extra' was shortlisted for the Muse India Satish Verma Young Writer Award 2015.