Cold Towns | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:53 AM, November 09, 2019


Cold Towns

Guarded by the Biting Wind,

oblivious to its numbing chill,

nestled between the buttress roots of the white masked PirPanjal:


A quaint town, dotted with tilted roofs, Srinagar.

There, under the wintry halcyon days,

the bleak winter sun sparkles upon the town’s barren fields, barren houses,

barren faces.

Cloaked by the brumal mist of a dim twilight,

Daal lake; the perennial teardrop, sculpted from icy darkness,

freezes over into an amalgamation of ice and isolation.

Houseboats of American names, adorned with weed, and shikharas

roam the gelid lake, like insects in dense grass.

As the sun descends, behind the enclosing hand, leaving a myriad of colours in its trail,

the Jhelum, hidden behind the magnificent, ominous Giants, in white garb,

weaves through the feet of PirPanjal.


The apple orchards are devoid of color,

the isolated poplar and walnut trees have discarded their leaves; completely naked,

basking in divine tranquility, their dark, bony branches: upright, yearning for what once was.


Beyond the crisscrossing, oscillating mountain paths,

beyond the dormant hamlets,

dotted with matchstick figurines, skeletons of trees, curtained with frost and popsicles: Picturesque Pahalgam, haphazardly blanketed in velvety white.

Streams carrying light, carrying Himalyan pebbles and boulders of time

riddle the hill station.

Here, erupted from the ground, the PirPanjal Crown,

awake with the cacophony of silence and time-trodden ice.

Crowns bejewelled with silky, cascading tracks of frozen droplets,

coursing round the shivering, coarse pine trees; partially submerged in white.

Each jagged peak, slowly curving and dissolving into each other.


As always, the sun sets on this fleeting paradise.

Twilight meanders along to the beat of the seasons,

the sound of hooves gets buried beneath time,

colours tussle on top of the desolate and dreary crown.

In the days simmering end, sound goes into hibernation.

The Planet stops rotating; Nothing is Here.


The Great day of Cleansing has arrived.

Inside a frozen chasm, the quarantined wonderland,

wisps condense into shards of frost and

descend everywhere, pervading the tips of the cloud clad crown,

occupying the most miniscule of crevices, ‘liberating’ colours from the mind,

bewitching souls.

Only faint silhouettes of the solitary behemoths are visible as mounds of white form over the soil.


Now, the pebbles are attired in white turbans,

the dagger-like pines, sheathed in white,

the gardens are terraced in white; there are white lollipops everywhere,

the Victorian lamp posts are immersed in a white drizzle,

the ruby bridges, slowly sink underneath the scoops of white.


Mystical little flakes halt nature’s commotion,

Crystalline little flakes descend, pounce and jolt awake slumber.

Bushes take the stage under the guise of clouds with souffle-like texture.

A white mist of suppressed wishes enwraps the valley.

The perpetual downpour of ephemeral euphoria spreads over the borders near Gulmarg.


Empty mirrors skip along the babbling brooks,

reflecting the remnants of happiness.

In the city of Sun and Gloom,

the gardens of the Mughals are stripped of blooming buds

by the sharp omnipresent Cold.

The pupils of life are an abyss, enveloped by snowflakes.


Night has descended. The silhouettes of the mountains are still visible.

The chaiwallah is watching the land.


Aryan Shafat is a young Bangladeshi poet. He is a first-year student at UWC Atlantic College, Wales.

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