Verse-journal of the Kashmir Siege

Ather Zia



When I asked if there would be a war, they replied “did it ever end?” and continued their song.

8/4/19, the siege begins next day


our hearts are sinking, but our prayers are rising, Azadi, Azadi, Azadi

4th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/8/19


my sister assures me over and over, everything is fine here, over a weak connection, and that tells me it is worse

5th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/9/19


communication is cut but our ties are strong. We hear war cries of battle ready people.

6th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/10/19


the heart of eid is sacrifice. in kashmir eid is everyday.

7th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/11/19


“don’t go out into the street, you will get shot!” “one can hope” the lover of freedom shot back.

8th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/12/19


eid passed peacefully through checkpoints, razor wires, and children that know how to stay still

9th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/13/19


a passionate assembly, seeking rights as a nation, your tv screen brands a law and order situation

10th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/14/19


August in Kashmir is a siege on steroids, India wrapped in saffron, Pakistan awash in green, Kashmir as always, soaks in blood, red of its old and young, those being born and those not yet

11th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/15/19


mother the world’s largest democracy is afraid of your small voice

12th day of Kashmir siege, 8/16/19


mother, google search brought “kashmir dispute” ahead of “kashmiri shawls.”

13th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/17/19


mother, you know things are worse when a medical journal writes a political report

14th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/18/19


add to the handicrafts of kashmir: how to extract metal pellets from kashmiri flesh. “if you live here, you have to know how to do it,” they say wincing, paisleys soaked red

15th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/19/19


mother, jails are overflowing with lovers old and young, wounded and maimed, blinded and blindsided. you may have to offer your home as a prison.

16th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/20/19


mother, men are baying for your daughters as if spoils of war and they name it integration

17th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/21/19


mother, Indians are making their children write letters, thanking their country for stripping Kashmir of its free will, early teaching of how consent does not matter–

18th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/22/19


moji, zulm. bas.

mother, tyranny. enough

19th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/23/19


mother, the highest civilian award goes to those who stoop low

20th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/24/19


mother, the police says protests are on, a few killings, no big violence, we used to arrest people for stone pelting in the past and we are apprehending them now too, it’s nothing special, it is quite normal. The situation is completely peaceful.

21st day of the Kashmir siege, 8/25/19


mother, the unborn are dying, the dying are killed, the killed destined to live forever in the living made undead; in this endless cycle of death we are told “situation is improving”

22nd day of the Kashmir siege, 8/26/19


mother, in the wounded homeland with its veins slashed heart cut open, i reach you only in prayer.

23rd day of the Kashmir siege, 8/27/19


mother, sovurr does not sleep at night nor rest during the day; the people are adamant facing bullets as if correcting a historical wrong; today the miraclous name written on each summer leaf is Azadi, Azadi, Azadi.

24th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/28/19


the soldier shouted: we didn’t beat you, did we?” deep purple welts across their back and legs, eyes swollen with little lead pellets, the kashmiris nodded vigorously.  In one voice, they answered: no sir, you didn’t.”

25th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/29/19


between unimaginable betrayal, and tv ticker messages, kashmiris ask “even prisoners have the right to communicate.”

26th day of the Kashmir siege, 8/30/19


there is a room for freedom in our eyes.

empty. smelling of fresh color. a comforting yellow of an old nargis pressed between the pages of grandfather’s diary written under curfew. Each page begins with 786 and ends with Azadi Azadi Azadi.

27th day of siege, 8/31/19



“We people know how to prepare for long winters when snow forces us indoors. Kashmiris know how to wait for spring.”

28th day of the Kashmir siege, 9/1/19


“moving out is too risky. the soldiers lie waiting. they may have guns, but fighting is about patience, too.”

29th day of the Kashmir siege, 9/2/19


the instruments of torture include cables, rods, car batteries, plumbing pipes, chilli, pepper and phones. Each home is a prison.

30th day of the Kashmir siege, 9/3/19


mother, you can never say again I do not call home. I have proof.

31st day of the Kashmir siege, 9/4/19

Ather Zia teaches anthropology at the University of Northern Colorado. She is also the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit. These poems were first published here and are part of a longer verse journal of the siege:

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