Sunday, July 4, 2010

Many mothers of my Kashmir will cry today...

This was a poem published in the Sunday Times dated 4th July 2010:

On June 30, Asif Rather, aged nine, ran out of his home in Baramulla in search of his older brother. Minutes later, he fell victim to a bullet fired by securitymen. He was just 150m from his front door. An elegy on the death of an innocent by Dr. Syeda Hameed, writer & member of the Planning Commission.

He stood at the sunlit door
A nine - year old with tousled hair
Aisf Rather, student of class four,
Baramulla, 55km from Srinagar
'Where is Touqeer?'
He sought his older brother.
'Nowhere! You come back now
Here's tea & last night's bread
My baby, let me comb your hair'
Outside, the sounds of Allah O Akbar
Chanting at once, one thousand strong
'Mother, I will get him back'
'No child, Touqeer is big, he's with friends
My youngest, you're too small
See here is cream skimmed off the milk
Now come, you make me angry'
The little form at the sunlit door
ran out, unheeding
The face appeared, smiling at the window pane
'Mother, you can't be angry; I will make you cry today'
And he was gone
Outside the milling crowds of tall & lanky youth
And one lost boy in a forest of long legs
And long sticks cut from poplar trees
Some hands clutch roadside stones
'Touqeer!' he called out
Was that his blue shirt?
But there were hundreds in blue
He felt the tears well up
Quick jammed with grimy fists.
He stood confused, afraid, ashamed
'I should have had the milk & last night's bread
So hungry & so far from Ma..
But Touqeer, where is he?'
And then it burst
The tear gas shell tore his tender flesh
'Allah' he cried his small hand
warding off
the evil that drew blood.
The crowd stood still
A dozen hands reached out
To the hold the falling body
His bullet broken neck
Gently rested on still hands
Of weeping boys
The tousled head of hair
Blood drenched, hung in strands
On a shining forehead...
And twisted in the sinews
of my mind
Are seven words (Seven lines of Quran's first Surah)
'Mother I will make you cry today'
How many mothers
of my Kashmir
The place where I was born
Will cry today?
Will cry tomorrow?

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