The road to Kishtwar

Do you remember?

I remember.

The road to Kishtwar. The grey skies. The smell of petrol. The bumpy road. The voices, foreign language but still clear enough to know we are being discussed. The cold. The large big house down the road from the mosque, tucked in behind the gates. Baby aunty’s. Lugging our suitcases. The room. The bathroom. We fall asleep. There is a tray of biscuits and tea on a tray. Where is the plug point? My phone is dying. My camera needs to be charged. We need to book a car for the next day. I cannot eat anymore rice. The heavy wood of this land and the carpets. I am too thin, too old, eyed suspiciously, my bony wrists. N is loved, always. The early morning. Quick tea. The driver is waiting. The walk up the road with the mosque on our right. I am happy. We drag our bags, windows are still shuttered. But there is a beggar, I think, this memory holds the hand of some stranger at the edge of the street walking along with us.

We are off.

The car. The cold. The endless road to the valley. And my beating heart.

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