The Castaways

A young Kashmiri poet dedicates a poem each to the dead

Inshah Malik watched in horror the mounting deaths in the Valley post Burhan Wani's killing.

 |  The Castaways  |  9-minute read |   20-07-2016
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  • “Don't let despair
  • distract you from the path
  • Don't forget to write,
  • not just with stones
  • But on pieces of paper,
  • on the leaves of the trees,
  • and those bloodied roads
  • the beloved word
  • Azadi
  • Remember
  • ...I write from a bleeding heart”

     - Inshah Malik

Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance, wrote Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet of resistance. In his poems, you could see the ravaged landscape, grieving lovers and lost children. There was conflict everywhere, even in love where he wrote about Rita and her rifle, and the impossibility of love in such estranged conditions.

Plato thought poets were dangerous. Stones are thrown and forgotten. Poems are read and stored in memory. Those who write, write. That's resistance too. After the killings and the evocative images of blood being washed with water on the streets of Kashmir, many words have been written to express anguish, anger and desolation.

A young poet, Inshah Malik, responded to each killing with a poem.

In a faraway place in Tehran, Iran, where she currently lives, Inshah heard of the curfew in her homeland, the mentally deranged man who was killed, the pellet injuries, the cries of freedom and wrote relentlessly after she read about each killing.

inshah-malik_072016063403.jpg "I reject the identity of victimhood," says the young poet.

She stopped after 20 poems. That’s commemoration, too. It is often a tool of memory. Poetry is the advantage of the underdog and of everybody and nobody. It is a challenge to the prime time theme song.

It is how Robert Lowell once wrote “Pray for the grace of accuracy” and then used the words as a response to everything you witness. I found her on Facebook one night and she said she believes it is not victimisation alone that is alienating Kashmir. It is the historical illiteracy of Indians, and the lack of political will to deal with Kashmir’s aspirations that hurts, she said.

The gag on the newspapers and the curfew ensured the real stories would not be told. She saw the official accounts, and wanted to respond as a poet would, with despair and hope. This is her way of being “on record” and challenging the headlines in the media. Her poetry, she says, is in the realm of her feeling.

“I personally reject the identity of victimhood,” she says.

In her words:

"'A poem for a death' started as a response to the continued civilian killings in Kashmir. As a Kashmiri, I can feel a sense of urgency when deaths start to become mere numbers. I don’t want to make peace with this idea anymore. I decided to write about each news item that flashed on social media or any event that perturbed me. It was also a response to the media gag in Kashmir and to commemorate the traditional Kashmiri practices of keeping memory alive.

There are various motivations and attractions in the project of writing. I have mostly written to clear my head, to inform a discourse and, many a times, challenge the rampant unreason. It’s often the impulse, in some sense prophetic.

I could be amidst people or making life when this urge comes to write it down. I'm self-directed in most cases except in what makes me deeply perturbed, and then I can't do without a response. I write as if a lightning bolt is about to hit me or a meteor is about to strike; like the earth is about to shatter and I won't have a fraction of time later to complete my thoughts.

Poem 1:

  • Does it take two to tango?
  • Does it take two to tango?
  • The sooner you know it
  • It will become three
  • In the batting of an eye-lid
  • It will be an orgy
  • Of blood-laced bodies
  • Too brash
  • In nakedness
  • In front of the rolling cameras,
  • The world will witness
  • This dance of erotic pleasures
  • This is where nation
  • Comes to mark
  • Its treasures

PS: In response to "2 killed in Qazigund, death toll 46" and when the deaths became three.

Poem 2:

  • We must win
  • We, the ones, who hang our hearts
  • On the walls of desolation
  • As the stampede of jackboots
  • Takes over the city
  • We must win
  • We must win
  • We, the ones, which raise, our children
  • As soldiers of love
  • And they believe our struggle
  • In the tempest of disbelief
  • We must win
  • We, the ones, which have no narrative
  • Other than pain
  • Determined to take another blow
  • In the raining bullets
    • We must win
  • We, the ones, which have called on
  • God, to witness
  • Our breaking backs
  • And bruised legs
    • We must win
    • We, the ones, which raid the taverns
    • Of the gun wielding patriarchs
    • While we bleed profusely
    • And lose our eyes
    • We must win

PS: In response to "BSF evacuates Nuso post after 47 years"

Poem 3:

  • Death is sought!
  • As his slipper slipped out of his feet,
  • A stampede is what he feared
  • Feeling anxious about death
  • That was sold,
  • At the kiosks set up to assist
  • People’s journey,
  • Between two worlds
  • He was mindful of
  • What his mum said
  • Your slipper is bad
  • Don’t wear it to the street
  • He was in a rush,
  • He couldn't care
  • And then it struck him
  • The cold feeling in his abdomen
  • Was not, just the bad food
  • That his mum fed him
  • He woke up again,
  • It was too late
  • He did not want to accept
  • People like him
  • Were just disposable
  • But wishes are wishes
  • He wanted to be
  • In Bandepor
  • And he wondered
  • If they would bury him
  • Next to his grandfather

PS: In response to "Youth shot dead in Bandipora, death toll climbs to 45"

Poem 4:

  • A ‘Mentally Deranged’ Man
  • He lived with an eminent distinction,
  • Amidst the absconding comprehension
  • When fists were raised,
  • He kissed them
  • When guns blared
  • He danced with them
  • He was mocked for his madness
  • His madness mocked the slavery
  • Slavery that held people
  • By their throats
  • He couldn't let the reason triumph
  • Because it made
  • Objects of the people
  • And subjects of feelings
  • He lived carefree
  • And drank at every flowing stream
  • He ate his meal
  • Unmindful of his hunger
  • He was more hated
  • He was free
  • In that he rejected
  • The life so brute and fraught
  • You couldn’t enslave him
  • So, master, he left
  • How sham is oppression?
  • It kills the madness!
  • In that no distinction
  • Remains between
  • Reason and unreason

PS: In response to "If this is not war crime, what is?"

Poem 5:

  • The Roses of Drogmol
  • They didn't water the roses,
  • In the pots, all over the yard
  • The water supplies are cut
  • One doesn't think of water much
  • Until it rains or is scarce
  • When Asif was fixing a shrub
  • That had fallen on its face
  • He heard gunshots in his lane
  • And he gets distracted
  • By things unrelated
  • That's probably why
  • He would never
  • Have made it
  • His peculiar urge
  • To peep in the lane
  • Cost him his life
  • And his blood was let
  • Into the drain

PS: In response to "Kashmir violence: Toll reaches 39 as another protester is killed"

Poem 6:

  • Hilal, a crescent
  • Hilal, a crescent
  • This is who he was,
  • He would go into hiding
  • Till he became apparent
  • Once while talking about politics
  • He felt grief about the death
  • Of young boy of his name
  • He thought to himself,
  • How death was so cheap?
  • In his paradise
  • On Friday, he was there
  • When a trail of young boys
  • /
  • Were walked naked and bruised
  • /
  • On the streets of Batmalun
  • He knew he had to protest,
  • How else could he carry on?
  • With his acts of hiding
  • Till everything was apparent

PS: In response to Batmaloo youth laid to rest amid pro-freedom slogans

Poem 7:

  • It has stopped
  • They have blocked the media
  • Those letters of grievances
  • We wrote, to wail
  • In each other's face
  • We read that as memorabilia
  • And keep them
  • Between the books that promise
  • Us a flight from pain
  • We keep them as letters from the past,
  • As messages from the graves
  • When it becomes silent
  • My heart flutters
  • Look for the pain
  • Look for the pain
  • So many of you
  • Die and maim
  • I must see them
  • I miss that face
  • In its power and pain

PS: In response to "Mobile services suspended in Kashmir"

Poem 8:

  • The fathers of Kulgam
  • His father announced,
  • From the mosque’s pulpit
  • Oh, stone pelting is so wrong
  • In the lure to save
  • His 7-year-old
  • From the hyenas rampant
  • On the streets of Kulgam
  • As he finished saying it,
  • He broke down and cried.
  • He left the mosque for home
  • On the way, just next to the
  • Magnanimous chinar, he found his
  • Child, beaten black and blue
  • With a sigh of relief
  • They were together
  • Onwards to home
  • But at the turn of his alley
  • He saw Abdul Rahman
  • Abdul Rahman is wailing his son
  • He is shot in the street
  • The only question,
  • You must ask,
  • Is it Abdul Rahman's turn
  • To make a plea for peace!
  • From his people
  • Whoonly break it!
  • To wail and mourn

PS: In response to "Another youth shot dead in Yaripora"

Poem 9:

  • Little boy dreams
  • Now that I can't know
  • How I and mine are viscous,
  • That our bodies fall
  • And become ash
  • On our own
  • They touch an honorable death,
  • And lick no boots
  • I don't need your media,
  • I know the truth from the lie,
  • If anything,
  • This is what you taught me,
  • To distrust, to deny
  • Right now, Afroz is sitting cross-legged
  • Sipping nunchai,
  • And wiping broken pieces of bread,
  • Off the dastarkhan,
  • His mind is so full of contempt
  • He grew up knowing
  • This 14-year-old
  • You shot in Kopwore
  • A teen filled with love
  • Afroz knew who his first crush was,
  • And secretly
  • He had wondered if he would,
  • Grow up to be a man enough,
  • To let her know how he feels
  • Afroz is shocked,
  • That the 14-year-old
  • Was man enough
  • To know what injustice was
  • He ran amidst the curfew
  • To fight the 7,00,000 of them
  • He did no calculation
  • Relied on no statistics
  • Believed in no might
  • Afrooz is right
  • When he says the 14-year-old,
  • Would have failed in his expression of love
  • Because he wasn't so much in love with her
  • Than with the idea of love after all

PS: In response to: Teenage boy killed, 3 injured in Kupwara

Poem 10:

  • You are on your own
  • Do not grieve,
  • Do not wail,
  • Endure,
  • Be strong,
  • If the world fails to respond,
  • There is always your inner self
  • which witnesses,
  • and strives
  • Be a means of hope,
  • cure injured,
  • Heal
  • Avoid death,
  • Yes, avoid it
  • It is the easiest thing
  • that can happen
  • Your enemy knows
  • no value for life
  • teach the struggling teens,
  • learn from your elders,
  • respect your women,
  • and let them lead
  • your strength will teach you,
  • unknown secrets of life
  • and treat your children as your equal
  • Walk tall,
  • in this life
  • and ever after
  • You have crafted
  • Your today
  • Don't forget,
  • to water your plants,
  • and feed the strays
  • Don't panic,
  • in any case,
  • Nothing worse can happen
  • to a people in resistance
  • Don't let despair
  • distract you from the path
  • Don't forget to write,
  • not just with stones
  • But on pieces of paper,
  • on the leaves of the trees,
  • and those bloodied roads
  • the beloved word
  • Azadi
  • Remember
  • I'm just an apology
  • and I offer you my soul
  • redeem me of the sin
  • of not suffering any physical harm
  • Know well,
  • I write from a bleeding heart

Writer

Chinki Sinha Chinki Sinha @chinkis

Rover in the driftless area of the outcastes. Writing is a way of deleting.

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