Musings unpoetical on tragedy incarnate - Kashmir.
This eye- catching old chinar
of Eid prayer ground
Aloft on ground high wearing the summer green,
eying Pir’s high old mountains from the very time
Kashmir’s rendezvous with her turbulent history__
trampled, trodden, bloodied – thus began.
This grand old Chinar
eye-witness to many turns of eventful upheavals,
treachery overtaking them all to render all uneventful.
Companion of my childhood
fill my memory card again
with that eventful entry of the Mughal king, Akbar the great
across Peer ki Gali four hundred years ago
to subjugate Kashmir.
From your high pedestal you remain
the living page of history to memorialise
the marching Mughal legions camping in the meadows of Pir Panchal__
The offshoot of that first treachery __
– the broken promise – history has recorded.
Songs of Habba Khatun, our queen,
revive in our memory loss of our free Kashmir.
‘And since then Kashmir has never been free’1
Centuries after that borehole
in the Pir’s mountain wall
saw soldiers from the plains enter Kashmir,
downtrodden Kashmiris rose up in yet another upheaval.
That was when Mehjoor – the poet of Kashmir
sang of somebody to have changed the destiny of Kashmir.
There and then, when Kashmiris were going to be
the master of their own fate;
coming from afar treachery also stepped in
to render the turning tide uneventful.
Rather pushing us deep down
into the abyss
of nothingness and uncertainty.
Do we exist or not?
is the only question now.
Ever since that waylaid journey__
Waylaid by highwaymen we knew nothing about,
The village’s historian,
continually with a watchful eye
goes on to see us suffer and die.
we suffer, we bleed, we die.
Still upholding the same old cause
we espoused in the beginning –
what else than life free,
without fear under the sun.
‘where the head is held high and the mind free'(2)
your majesty – our camaraderie
in our long, beset journey:
you must have seen us in our glory
with spectre and crown on our heads.
Tell us of that time when we were free.
How did we look, live, enjoy poetry?
Be then a prophesier to tell us when
O when shall we be our former self again.
‘ you wayward crusader –
you failed to catch time by forelock
at the defining moment
when the nations of the East
were breaking the chains put on them
by the West’s imperium.
For that criminal betrayal or whatever.
Now wait and wait long till the old gypsy man
comes your way again’, bespoke
the Chinar to me in silent language.
God intervenes in history once in a thousand years(3)
History knew this lofty Chinar is preserver of.
History of broken times hard and bitter,
of tear and blood, of congregations
of lamentation and sorrow.
There is another signet folks of my village
have put on thee.
Thou majestic Chinar
It is under thine long and leafy branches
that they, the pure and true folk of my village,
now bid farewell to their martyrs.
(They now say their funeral prayers__nimaz-e-Jinazah_
for their slain youth under the Chinar of their Eidgah)
Chinar of Eidgah you now are
a mourner among the multitude of mourners.
You are a mighty longer lasting participant
in the funeral prayers of our slain youth.
Slain just in a killing spree of vendetta,
by the jackboot enjoying impunity under AFSPA.
unforgettable how you held
teenage Umer’s bullet-torn body
under your large canopy
and around those thousands of mourners,
men.women, young and old bewailing
the martyrdom of Umer.
Skyrocketing the cries of their cherished dreams.
Dream we must, dear friend,
to be of worth and value,
to make ourselves count
in the reckoning of free and fearless
No longer humiliated, outraged
and taken …..for…granted.
Each night we put Kashmir in our dreams
Hard to think schoolboy Umer, three in number
in the killing-spree to youthful Suhail and Ishfaque
within a span of days.
Forget not Khanday Rashid in the bloody annals of our history.
This morning, after that shooting to mutilated death
of ten humans in South Kashmir’s
little known village of ‘doomed address’,
a beggar woman dropped in my house
from a neighbouring village.
‘where shall I go a begging in this flood of blood-letting
The rite of fourth of a shaheed not yet come
the news of two more shot dead is carried
by the wave of bloody time all around:
all around there is shutdown of terrible silence.
Difficult to go a begging when nothing moves;
but I have to __I am ill I need money to buy medicine’,
she says in overriding pain.
Kashmir is bleeding.
Bled by dirty politics for power and pelf
History of deceit, reminiscences
of treacheries of those who claimed to change__
__change our history – history of us Les Miserables,
into a history of promise.
Pinjura- born uUrdu poet Shoorida Kashmiri lamented
"Hum un manzilun se guzrein hain ya rab
jahan apne hi humsafar loottai hain"
we have passed through so many such stations O God
where our own fellow travellers have robbed us
This robbery goes on with us unabated.
Save us God. Save us merciful Allah!
‘ Shall we meet again, you old Chinar
and this old man
by the gates of the villa of peace,
our hands blossoming into fists
till the soldiers return the keys
(Agha Shahid Ali slightly altered)
(1) Agha Shahid Ali
(3) Ibn Khaldun