‘When Kashmir wept, I wrote a poem’ by Premjish

To the Kashmir I’ve never visited,
not even in my dreams.
I know you will understand,
my fear for the uniforms,
the masculine parades,
the gun holding men who look like
Indian gods with elongated genitals,
who look like my father with their moustaches,
you know I despise my father,
and those eyes with insatiable desire
to rape, you and me.

And you know I understand your agony, angst, perseverance.
Though we live ages apart, cultures apart,
languages, costumes, histories apart.
But united by our fears.

A certain Adorno once said that
you can’t write poems during war.
Maybe not a poem; but a lament, a cry, a howl, a whisper, a petition and a testimony.
We should write and not stop
amidst the demonic rattle of their boots.
Don’t even stop when they rape you,
when they strip you naked and
display you as war conquests
and trophies.

Don’t even stop when they
put the muzzle on your head.
Keep writing on your bodies,
on your skin, on the ground,
with your blood, with your saliva, with your urine.
Keep writing!
Compile an anthology
and read it aloud during the nights
of torture, rape and murder.

During the curfew.
During the wailing sirens.
Read it aloud and let it cast a spell
and let it exorcise the demons from your land.
On that day, I will visit you Kashmir.


Premjish is a Curator, Writer and Translator based in Delhi. His translations have appeared in Indian Literature published by Sahitya Akademi. He is currently the Director-Outreach at Art1st Foundation and also a Visiting Faculty at Shiv Nadar University where he teaches art history and theory.

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