Poems for Kashmir

 

(These poems were first published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics Journal )

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Martand Sun Temple, 2012 (Image Copyright: Niyati Bhat)

I

Today,
while they show you the colour of Jhelum
-bathed in red
do not let them forget
The Lidder’s water-
splashed with blood in ‘89
Turning lives to stone
Peeling the skin of kith and kin
reminding them- you never were our own

The foundation of the dry blood
coating the streets of Srinagar
remains of Lassa Kaul.

Of the bricks made of the fluid red,
that scream. Lest we forget-
The slogan for Azadi was built, not in a day,
It was carved in the 1990
With a nurse’s bones,
shredded to pieces
with a chain saw.
It was cemented
with a poet’s corpse
Sarwanand Kaul ‘Premi’ or Abdul Sattar Ranjoor
Who can recall?

 

 

II

Home?

A dilapidated structure

that haunts the neighbourhood.

The trees remember the bodies hung on them.

The streets always covered

in the mesh of red.

It is not some Pandit’s blood today.

Of his perpetrator?

Don’t think so.

 

A ghost whispered an illness into somebody’s ear.

It blinded everyone in 1988

The ghost died yesterday

The blind men worship him, still.

 

Today

at Lal Chowk

they will recall the ghost of Azadi,

the one who handed them the Kalashnikovs

and maps

to burn the houses

of everyone they knew.

 

The fire that was started

demanded a body everyday

It turned into a dragon, this Azadi,

The village couldn’t sleep until it was fed.

It lies in the north

claiming the young and the old

Those who remain

believe

only the ghost will be their salvation.

Little do they know

The ghost has an appetite of its own.

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