You will run back into burning buildings,
of course you will, despite all the pleas not
to- you will feel your skin shrink into itself
as you breathe in the heat, your lungs will
protest against the anger in the air, they

will beg you to stop, to turn around, folding
into themselves, constricting, to stop you
from going in. You will hear the sizzle of
hair on your face, your eyebrows falling off
like exclamation marks punctuating each

step you take closer to the flames, and they’ll
reach out to you, welcoming, holding their
arms out, and flicking their tongues against
your legs, whispering to you the little details
of every little evocation they consume and

steal- the curve of the alphabets from the
letters your sister wrote to you (you never
got around to replying in hand), the taste
of the vinyls you bought for your best friend
(right before he married the woman jealous

enough to keep you apart), the smell of the
dupattas your mother gave you before you
left the house (you always meant to get
something pretty stitched with them), the
texture of the shrivelled rose nestled in

the pages of a book hidden under your bed
(it was from the man whose heart you broke,
and whose memory broke you, again and again),
and the way home felt when you walked in
(you were drunk, and angry, the last time you did)

The flames will continue to sing, and you will
dance, till your face has melted off, and the
soles of your shoes cling to yours, you will
keep rushing back till you can’t, till you’re
forced into an ambulance, oxygen mask on,

empty handed, broken heart, fingers fried
into question marks, and you ask yourself
again and again, ‘Was it worth it, was it worth
me, was the house burning, or was it me,
burning the traces of half forgotten memories?’

Harnidh is a 21-year-old student, currently pursuing her Masters in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s, Mumbai. Her first collection of poetry is called ‘The Inability of Words’, because, for all that she’s written, she hasn’t found the exact words she’s looking for.