Resistance through art: Kashmir’s verses of suffering

Ieshan Wani


Kashmir's English poet of global repute, Agha Shahid Ali, is perhaps the most celebrated artist from this disputed Himalayan region. Agha in his work: The Country Without a Post Office and The Half-Inch Himalayas, has en-capsuled the turmoil and the pain of the people who have immensely suffered. Today, Kashmir is simmering again and people are dying-- more than 66 people have lost their lives to pellets, teargas, bullets and even torture by the armed forces. Here, we pick one of his poems from The Country Without a Post Office titled Farewell-- a shattering evocation of the conflict-torn Kashmir.

Farewell by Agha Shahid Ali

At a certain point I lost track of you. They make a desolation and call it peace. when you left even the stones were buried: the defenceless would have no weapons.

Drifting- Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

When the ibex rubs itself against the rocks, who collects its fallen fleece from the slopes? O Weaver whose seams perfectly vanished, who weighs the hairs on the jeweller's balance? They make a desolation and call it peace. Who is the guardian tonight of the Gates of Paradise?

Resilience: Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

My memory is again in the way of your history. Army convoys all night like desert caravans: In the smoking oil of dimmed headlights, time dissolved- all winter- its crushed fennel. We can't ask them: Are you done with the world?

Shadows in the Spring: Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

In the lake the arms of temples and mosques are locked in each other's reflections. Have you soaked saffron to pour on them when they are found like this centuries later in this country I have stitched to your shadow?

The Frozen Moon: Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

In this country we step out with doors in our arms Children run out with windows in their arms. You drag it behind you in lit corridors. if the switch is pulled you will be torn from everything

"At a certain point I lost track of you."
Execution: Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

You needed me. You needed to perfect me. In your absence you polished me into the Enemy. Your history gets in the way of my memory. I am everything you lost. You can't forgive me. I am everything you lost. Your perfect Enemy. Your memory gets in the way of my memory:

Execution II: Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

I am being rowed through Paradise in a river of Hell: Exquisite ghost, it is night.The paddle is a heart; it breaks the porcelain waves. It is still night. The paddle is a lotus. I am rowed- as it withers-toward the breeze which is soft as if it had pity on me.

Knots of Resistance: Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

If only somehow you could have been mine, what wouldn't have happened in the world?I'm everything you lost. You won't forgive me. My memory keeps getting in the way of your history. There is nothing to forgive.You can't forgive me. I hid my pain even from myself; I revealed my pain only to myself.

Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.

There is everything to forgive. You can't forgive me.If only somehow you could have been mine, what would not have been possible in the world?

Rollie Mukherjee Copyright.