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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 43 New Delhi October 15, 2016

Poems of Nusrat Bazaz

Sunday 16 October 2016

July 2016
This July
The moon peeps into my room
And wonders
Why I toss and turn
In my soft bed
This July
The early sun cannot fathom
Why, paper in hand
My morning tea lies
This July
The flowers in my garden
Nudge each other, as if to ask
Why I no longer linger
And drink in their fragrant beauty
This July
My little niece stares at me
Trying to comprehend
Why I tickle her no more
Nor join her splashing in the water
This July
I keep count of the dead
And mourn those
Whose days are darkened forever
Ask no more of me, ask no more...
Joyless Rain
It rained
After months of scorching heat
But brought no joy
To the grief-stricken valley
It could not douse the fire raging on streets
Nor wash the blood splattered on walls
It could not cool the parched soul of a mother
Sobbing for her dead son
Nor soothe the blazing wound of a father
Nursing his blinded daughter
It could not entice little boys of four and five
To splash about and play
For this summer they learnt
To mould stones from wet clay
And lisp
Aazadi, Hai Haq Hamara
Another Blackout
No, no
It’s my birthday
She weeps bitterly
Paying no heed I switch the lights off
Nani, she asks
Can’t we have a golden-out
Instead of another black–out?
I look at her sadly
Wanting to tell her
There is no golden here
The only colours we know
Are Black and Red
I want to tell her
How it began
On another birthday
Her mother’s first
More than two decades ago
The room
Brightly lit
Draped with coloured buntings
My daughter in dazzling white
Looked like a fairy
Their armoured vehicles
Patrolled narrow lanes
A car sped by
And then
A loud shot
We shrank in fear
All was black
And found next morning
A body slumped inside a car
All in red
Since then
This is Karbala
Where the red blood of innocents
Is mercilessly shed
Since then
It is Muharram
And the streets dress in black
To mourn the dead
It began that day
I want to tell her
But my mother
Her mother ‘s grandmother
Says it began before that
Long before that...
Kashmir Calls
Conscience-keepers of this country
Your mighty nation
Is small, so small
It feeds on the suffering of the hapless
And drinks the blood of innocents
It calls itself the world’s beacon
And takes away the light of children
Conscience-keepers of this country
Remind your people
Not so long ago
You were Jews to the English Nazis
Now I have become Palestine
And You, zealous Zionists
Conscience-keepers of this country
Ask your leaders
To look me in the eye
Me in the eye
And Swear
You have not broken any promises
Conscience-keepers of this country
Conscience-Keepers Of your Country.
Fears of a Kashmiri Mother
What if
He opens the window
To peep at the street
Where men in uniform now keep guard
And a stray pellet pierces his body
What if
Answering an inner call
He rushes out on the streets
To join thousands chanting
Aazadi, Aazadi, Hai Haq Hamara Aazadi
And a soldier takes aim
What If
Our neighbor
Names him among the stone pelters
To settle old scores
And they come searching for him
In the dead of the night
And is never seen again
What If
He sneaks away in the curfew
To take a quick dip in the Dal
And his body
Is fished out after days
With small holes
What If
With leaden feet
I rush to the nearby hospital
After a firing on a crowd
And find him
In the catch of newly arrived bodies
Staring at me with sightless eyes
A smile frozen on his lips
What if …….

Dr Nusrat Bazaz is an Associate Professor, Department of English, Kashmir University.

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