An exercise in memory

Haqeeqat
Haqeeqat e Kashmir

Dear comrades
let us do an exercise / polish this new guise,
an exercise in memory / memory will set us free

Let us begin, bloodied, let us bathe in memory / it is an urgent decree –
before they whitewash us like frescoes of Shalimar / bury our bones under molten tar
on which they make goodwill roads / that ease the flow of gun-toting hoards
who fill the Rambiarah with their lies / there water with shame forever sighs
Let us bloody begin now / I will show you how –
I know we are worn, simpering and torn
but like they said, the show must go on / on and on

the maestro Wagner / Zubin calls his music a slur
In this shunning stance / Zubin gives memory a chance
Wagner for Zubin and his ilk / is no gossamer / is no silk
Wagner’s notes are a bloody mesh / coarse memory of bones and flesh

So why not we / Give chance to our memory / feel / cry / see
This exercise / might cut them to size / truth to lies / truth to lies
When you hear me say Wagner / like on spur
Shout on the shimmering waves of Dal / shout long live Maqbool, Long live Afzal

A battle-cry for our martyrs slain / shout this pain / into the ears of vain
This as clear as day decree can’t be quashed /memory cannot be whitewashed

my dear weary brethren / prisoners of their own glen
you are “free” – free I say that word with care / it is so dear
to choose the names for our battle cries / make sure the memory never dies
names, that they blacken to whitewash their crimes –
names, that are etched into hearts of our ravaged times –
names, you can never show, those you say and never tell
these names that blood and sacrifice spell
Maqbool, Ashfaq, Ellahi, Mughli’s Nazir,
Parveena’s Javaid,Tasleema’s Deka, Husna’s Ayub
and that limping neighbor who went to buy milk
and came back bathed in blood,
Asiya, Neelofar, Tufail
and Sameer Rah the 9 year old,
after whose killing all juicy pears turned into stones
and stones turned into mighty rivers / sending shivers
down their spine –

It’s done, it’s done / done and done
they have sunk their boats / no more hostages are we to whitewashing notes
that turn to quell us after guns and barbed wires / our own blood against us and Rakshak tires
Wagner is your balderdash / this concert is your hogwash

Let us begin, bloodied, let us bathe in memory / it is an urgent decree –
When you hear me say Wagner / like on spur
Shout on the shimmering waves of Dal
Shout, shout -shout
Long live Maqbool, long Live Afzal

Beyi / more
Hari Nawas, Aushwitch – beyi – Wagner
Long live Maqbool, long Live Afzal
JIC, Treblinka –beyi Wagner
Long live Maqbool, long Live Afzal
Papa 2, Dachau– beyi Wagner
Long live Maqbool, long Live Afzal
Kunanposhpora, Buchanwald – beyi Wagner
Long live Maqbool, long Live Afzal

It’s done, it’s done / done and done
they have sunk their boats / no more hostage are we to whitewashing notes
that turn to quell us after guns and barbed wires / our own blood against us and Rakshak tires
Wagner is your balderdash / this concert is your hogwash

[The poem has been written in response to the Zubin Mehta concert and was part of the Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir performances.]

Photograph by Shahid Tantray

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1 COMMENT

  1. brilliant, Ather. Just wonderful. yet if we can put the term “truth” in its elite created political perspective, what you seem to be describing is the far more pertinent angle … not on truth, but reality. truth is malleable, political, controlling. reality is real life lived and felt and suffered and remembered and reported and addressable in non-absolute terms.

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