Watch: If I Could Turn Back Time, Ft. Akhlaq, Junaid & Pehlu Khan

A poem for an India without violence, bloodshed and communal clashes. Is it possible to ‘turn back time’?

2 min read

(This article was originally published on 31 March 2018 and has been republished to mark Mohammad Akhlaq’s death anniversary.)


('If I could turn back time’ is a poem written by Jhilmil Breckenridge in September 2017. She’s a poet, writer, academician and the founder of Bhor Foundation. The Quint has reproduced the poem as an animated video)

Junaid rolls over, shakes off grave dust,
and starts walking home to his Ammi,
adjusting his skullcap

Mohammad Akhlaq opens his fridge
to pour a glass of tarboozi Rooh Afza


Pehlu Khan pushes away steel rods
like opening a window
and walks on; cows mooing by him

The tank rolls on in Kashmir,
no one would dream of tying
a man in front


The bus to Amarnath drives on,
voices raised in devotion

Bricks come flying back
to create standing walls —
children in Peshawar
turn pages of history books


The car does not bloom
into fire in the crowded
Bullets dislodge themselves
from spines and bellies
and ricochet back
into muzzles

Everything continues
as God planned
There are no more killings
in His name
If I Could Turn Back Time

If I could turn back time is a poem by Jhilmil Breckenridge. 
(Image: The Quint / Susnata Paul)

Poem: Jhilmil Breckenridge

Animation: Susnata Paul

Typography: Saumya Pankaj

Editor: Puneet Bhatia

Cameramen: Athar Rather, Abhishek Ranjan

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider

or more


3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!