Three Poems for Kashmir

By Amit Kumar

1.1   For a Murderer

Its Friday,

All faithful are running for the Namaz-e-Juma

Somewhere a Brahmin is reciting the sacred mantras

Every devotee is hand-folded, sitting in reverie

I could never understand the ‘Arabic verse’

la illah ila allah mohammed rasoul allah

Grandmother’s fairy-tales appealed more

than Tulsi’s Ramayana.

Where do I go?

With Skull caps and long tilaks

They tell what/who they are

Mansur had long back thrown my skull cap

The day I realized I was not a trinetra

I had rubbed off my saffron tilak,

Who Am I?

We all spoke Kishtwari,

Till the day you told us,

Kishtwari for Hindus, Kashmiri for Muslims,

Till the day you told us,

Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan.

My tongue refuses to roll for your adabi zabaan

Its bleeds and longs for its lost ‘dialect’

What do I speak?

I am a Pagan,

Not yet arranged in castes like you

I wore my air,

Till you made me breathe

American and Israeli gunpowder,

In my veins flowed the ‘blue chenab’

Till you mixed it,

With the red blood of ‘Chattisinghpora’ and ‘Cherji’

You are a Murderer!

You killed our Gulafshan for your tulips,

Our Orchards for your Camps,

Our Peers for your Maulana’s

Our graveyards with countless unmarked graveyards,

Your Nation has killed Myon Wattan[1]

And I will never forgive you for that…

1.2 For Tufail Mattoo

So you could not find who killed Tufail Mattoo?

You didn’t know the source,

from which the tear gas shell  came?

Murderers of a dream,

escaped your ‘keen investigating eye’.

Loathes of blood didn’t scream at you,

Mothers wail! Of course, doesn’t constitute evidence.

Chest beating mourners didn’t come in your dreams.

All marsia fell on deaf ear.

It takes a lot, not to be a human.

You have done your work exceptionally.


But from the very day he was killed,

I haven’t been able to sleep,

My pen has been spilling blood and writing death.

His mother still looks for him

from that blue-half-open window,

That desk of his classroom,

The playground where he played cricket,

His father’s apple orchard,

The local butcher, the Kandur, the Kiryana wala,

The rustic door of the old village masjid,

The teen age girl whom he could never express his feelings,

All wait for him!

He might be a name for you,

a word at that,

A file which you have closed,

may be forever.

But he still lives between your ‘words’

and ‘memory’,

of those who still wait for him.

Words change meanings,

and are lost in the debris of History,

Memory lingers on in/with us,

It doesn’t die with our body

As, it is not born with it,

It’s much older than your great civilizations,

Dust of time doesn’t erode it…

For you he might only be a Tufail Mattoo,

For us, he is the memory of all those,

who have been trampled under your jackboots,

from the very first day when you killed

some commoner!

Memory of Tufail will not die away,

It will bloom with every new uprising.

And gain new strength with every ‘spring’

From Latin America, Arab Lands to Kashmir.

Till the day it wins over your words!

1.3 Its time to Mourn

In the winter of 1984, a shrill came from her,

and dear poet pronounced the loss of our post-office,

the bazaar is now marked with barbed wires,

bunkers, hospitals and jails…

hospitals where human flesh fly like flies

and jail where young bodies dance on the tunes of the General.

Those who had lost the keys,

have found them,

but locks, like the curls of that damsel

still remain far from them.

They have decided not to return,

our memory remains closed in that locked castle,

and poor us!

Keys are with them,

They are our traditional safe-keepers

Our memory is in their safe-keeping,

They often invade our territory

And tell us we are/were naked,

Unknown past like an unknown territory is such a fear!

This time,

again they have conspired

winter has put autumn in spring,

spring air is giving way to lonely breeze,

flowers have decided not to bloom

haven’t you seen ‘unmarked graveyards’

within every bud?

O poets, artists, protestors of my land!

Break your pens,

Burn your art,

Smash your idols,

Don’t raise your fists,

Don’t push your throats,

Stand in reverie,

Bow your heads,

Give each other a shoulder to lean on,

Remember the dead and contemplate,

O my people!

It’s the time to mourn!

It’s the time to mourn

 Amit Kumar teaches History at Hansraj College, DU.

[1] Myon wattan might sound like a modern Nation state, but it goes beyond that. Here I use it in the sense my maternal grandmother used it – with no defined boundaries, with no fixed identity markers, which at a given day could take in the whole world, while at some other time it could just mean only her own self.

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