#43. Huzaifa Pandit

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We remember when there was only the rain

We remember when there was only the rain, nothing

but the rain. The rain chain stitched itself to our hearts

 till our hearts hung out their crimson shadows

 to dry in the famished sun. We too remember when there was only

the silence, nothing but silence. We lent silence a language

but nobody came to console us. Only the birds born out of our rubble

wept in our ruins and time hurried past us

with our yesterdays in its luggage.

We forgot when we tumbled out of tomorrow with

the gauze of bleeding clouds flung over our

slumped shoulders. Our destinies were shattered on

the pavements, and the soldiers picked up pieces of

to use as looking mirrors and stroke their guns

with the pride of careless death.

 

We remember when there were only the shadows, nothing

but the shadows. We cremated our names on water

to reach the other side where you stood waiting with open

arms in the land of your siege and my siege,

the perfume of ripe wheat in your moist eyes. Be

our shadow between the two wars on our glass maps. Take

us to your gardens laden with cherry blossom, sprinkle us

with rose-water and comb our wheat in the prisons of

your names. What was the point of your waiting, who do we

await in the long winter? Did the poets not warn us to lock

our sleep weary doors, as all promises stood broken. Nobody came,

the shikara wala laments, and I complete the verse:

Nobody will now come here, nobody.

 

Our poem is in your manacled hands and can comb

its fingers through our forgotten songs sung

when we return dead from destiny’s road. We

kiss the poem, surrender our hearts and ask:

Who are you? Who are we?

Letter to a Lost Lover in Kashmir

Every window owns a voice

Though not one speaks to me. 

 

I am lost in such a crowd

Where my only company is me.

       Sabir Zafar

 

Faiz, you summed it right:

Who dares the courage to request now? Who bears the patience to endure now?

 

I can hardly shake off the fear off me, but how does one persuade the heart to write off its obstinacy? Neither any plea for meeting admitted, nor any grievance redressed. Tyrant, how merciless is your regime: All the rights of the broken heart have been suspended.

 

Freshly metalled roads lead to wary mountains and wintered gardens in the upturned valley – ashen white and stale green, in jaded wallpapers. Special SRTC buses meet to auction generous routes to relish the

barricaded world. There are great attractions indeed, but what use are they when elegy is prohibited to me? The rains of my misfortune didn’t choose a stranger’s roof.

Those stars, we stole from the impossible seas of blood in the dug mountains and strung into three constellations (if our two ran out, we kept one for a rainy day) were gunned down too

right in the heart of my sky. Perhaps some prophet will glide over now and resurrect them from saffron graves. Perhaps, I could then

empty the sea of long death between us, and nail to it my leaking palms with the syllables of your memory. From me, ailing from you, the furry hands of death will, perhaps, exorcise the mortgaged plagues of memory. My sutured memory leans back on the benches of superiority stroking your blood matted hair with rock-hard guns.

The awaara was used to conversing with the black roses blooming in the undug bazaars. Will he too need to be diagnosed, medicated and counselled for generic anxiety? Will you steal the scars of your memory from him too, the scars which are full moons now?  

Someone wake you up, tear you up, grieve over you, when I come back home late midnight

someone sigh over you and console in hushed whispers: indeed,

you have suffered greatly till now, you have walked alone

and burnt in our fires alone. Come, walk beside me

come, let us walk a new journey, come walk, make

me your witness and walk.

 

How long more dear heart, how much more

life like this?

Saif, we too never wonder

at the dead. Death

must’ve been the only

approved remedy.

 

Huzaifa Pandit is the author of Green is the Colour of Memory which won the first edition of Rhythm Divine Poets Chapbook Contest, 2017. Besides he is the winner of several poetry contests like Glass House Poetry Competition and Bound Poetry Contest. Born and raised in Kashmir, his poems alternate between despair, defiance, resistance and compliance as they seek to make sense of a world where his identity is outlawed. His inspirations in poetry can be guessed from the topic of his PhD: “Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Agha Shahid Ali and Mahmoud Darwish – Poetics of Resistance” pursued at the University of Kashmir. 

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