no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark…
—Warsen Shire

Home is an arrested metaphor
suspended between my trust in clouds
that shake their head when it rains
and the news feed I scroll endlessly
like my grandfather’s afternoon stroll
down the abandoned lanes of faith.

Home is a suspected Kashmiri image
under investigation of the security
agencies that hang it upside down
like an X-ray to look for the possible
links of a deadly disease
that might engulf the entire nation.

Home is a local ancient chinar tree
that you write with your desires
copied from the smiles of your ancestors
slayed for saying what they preferred
besides rice and potatoes on subsidized
rates after years of organized Begar.

Home is a frozen smile that often plays
on the silent lips of rebels buried alive
under the weight of torched houses
Abbu built inch by inch with mud and water
borrowed from the fields through hours
of toil and blood in mid-July.

Home is a tschot that mouj bakes
on the ancestral hearth, her anchorage
while she sings songs of Habba Khatoon;
her cracked hands raise the dust of life
lamenting the joys of youth and beauty
before the muezzin’s call for prayer.

Home is the sky hanging above us
where we fly our prayers before
we expose our thoughts and heartbeat
for regular security check-ups
lest we plant the seeds of love and dreams
and plead guilty of a conspiracy.

Home is a suspended hand of the clock
gifted by my first love in high school
that has given up the race for existence
and adopted wilful ignorance of the time
unless the soldiers knock down its walls
for the last supper on its dead parts.


August 5, 2019

That day, Allah’s kerosene lamp gaped
during the great auction, while they sold us
along with our old Imambarha at Budgam
refusing to see our shaking heads;
We carried history in small coffins
on shoulders like our dead ancestors
to bury in the soil of memory.
The air was stiff with the traps of empire.
We hung the night on our heads
and shook its last dust particles angrily
for a life that was our undoing;
We stood curfewed and implored God;
He had been a judge in his dream;
we had Hazratbal outside our lawn
we beseeched the saint to be with us:
At least you have seen our women
Drying cow-dung and storing poplar leaves
For the coming winter.

He did not speak this time; he never did!
when we took pilgrimage to caves on the hill
God had melted into the polluted waters of Dal;
At last, we visited Jesus at the Gulmarg church
they had hanged him─ his body frozen in ice;
That day, we did not believe our eyes;
we ran short─ of miracles and communications,
of Gods and the saints; we had silence in abundance
while two babies were delivered together
Handcuffed to history
their mothers gathered the colonial air
in their cupped hands like the blessings of
Shahe-i-Kirman and colonized them forever.


Scroll To Top