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On Seeing Gulshan Books Being Built in Ladakh by Madhura Banerjee

Source: EasternEye

The motorcycles of the Enfielders who stopped for butter tea

held the Stok Kangri in their rear-view mirrors -

magnifying glasses discovering the heart of the Himalayas

beneath the yak skin bosom of Leh Market

I noticed how they always stopped at crossroads,

leather jackets stitched with the promise of a beauty

that comes with confusion, the uniformity

of chaotic knots of roads running into each other

Upon the four-way intersection, a new reed

was rising over the harmonium of the Ladakh skyline,

a sudden accidental, squeezed between the semitones of pashmina shops,

a different chant from the folk verses played by sunsets on rooftops

Before descending into the Market,

there is a halt of inevitable traffic

on the road that takes you away from Leh -

like a measuring tape that the slope stumbles on

From here, it takes you twenty-one hours on a bus,

Two years down the amorphous bylanes of memory,

Half a heartbeat, if you looked past the unattached window frame

of the half-built Gulshan Books, to find yourself in Srinagar again

I remember reading about the floods in the paper -

Ruptured veins of the mountains threatening to drown

volumes of yellowed, hard-bound history;

I never saw them again, but I heard they were well now,

With some unwritten pages settling in this new valley -

The bookstore stood, like the reassuring face of an old lover

in a sudden encounter beyond our stanzas of wishful thinking -

Your heart must be full and well-furnished by now, shouldn't it?

From Madhura's new book Monsoon Arrives at the Junction Crossing (Dhauli Books, 2019)


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