I have been going through a lot of letters. I said to someone just now: It takes time for me to get back to people. That is the only excuse I have, really, and I hope you don’t think me too terrible.
I want to make it up to you. Send me something, if you can ?
By Agha Shahid Ali
The moon did not become the sun.
It just fell on the desert
in great sheets, reams
of silver handmade by you.
The night is your cottage industry now,
the day is your brisk emporium.
The world is full of paper.
Write to me.
A lot of Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry talks of the memory of home, exile, and is written against the backdrop of the Kashmir conflict. He was an “exile poet”, like Mahmoud Darwish, or Reinaldo Areinas, whose words piercingly bought home the atrocities committed by the Indian state on the people of Kashmir; and what it means to live in a constant state of terror. His writing is doused with the pain of cultural displacement, and a ‘paisley’ shaped hole filled with despair.