In the state of Kashmir
You are the estate of Kashmir.
Stand still, woman.
They know how to deal with you.
There isn’t much you need to do
Cover your head
Do not use that tone
Invest hours in the kitchen
Try, try not to be visible.
Why should you defy the norms?
Your parents support you.
The police protects you.
The media voices your opinions!
The hounds of the human rights watch pet you
Or so they all say.
Are you even a person, Handwara girl?
No, you are not.
Lalla was not a saint while she lived.
You are an instrument.
Your testimony will first discredit the opponents
Afterwards, they will discredit you.
Why should they believe you anyway?
Look at Lal Ded, the peasant woman
who knew too much for her own good.
Legend says, they mocked her for disrobing herself
They did not listen to her vakhs
while she lived to sing them!
Only the echo of their high headed insults
as they chased her down the streets
until she couldn’t run anymore.
Lal Ded, she jumped into the baker’s tandoor
‘emerged as a clothed fairy’, they say.
They want you to read and learn, yes.
But not live.
Speak your mind
when you are six feet under.
Then be reborn, fully clothed- without opinions.
Don’t teach them how to live, Lalla
They were dead before spring.
They cannot hear you anymore, Habba Khatoon
It would take a Nirbhaya’s death to rattle those cages.
But, please, do not jump into the tandoor,
Speak only as you can.
Those of us who know
the language of pain and fear,