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By Ashfaq Saraf who is an engineer by profession. He is from Indian held Kashmir.

 

 

 

Through endless alleys in a distant fog,

I recall belonging to certainty,

I recall feeding a stray dog,

I recall fading away into generosity,

I recall the birth of a pensive yore

When children would shy away

From belongingness,

 

I recall the prelude that vehemently tore

Our wisdom- the phrase “God bless”

We strolled down the aisles

Wallowed in hesitant smiles,

 

We paused,

It was not the charm of boyhood

Men clad in horror ate in galore plates

Serenity famished

We saw blue skies embarrassed of the nakedness

That their clouds had found reticent mates,

They forgot their footsteps,

The rhyme in their promise slates,

They forgot how to shower!

We were never given to forgetfulness-

 

We were occupied

And we could not hide!

We were never given to forgetfulness,

Sisters lied to their brothers

With their eyes open wide

Brothers amputated their flight feathers.

 

And we had nowhere to hide,

Mothers cooked on stale flames of a cold hearth

Their unsavory meals of tenacity

Fathers had lost their appetite

Alas! Our kitchens dreaded a child birth;

Autumn winds divested our populus trees

Of their long gathered loftiness.

 

And it blew from within

The ears we sold to deaf traders

(Who crossed over from the remnants

Of our dark span)

I remember the snow smelling faces

Which decorated our mirrors

We did recognize them

Didn’t we?

 

From their traces

And the trample of ugly boots

We did recognize them

(We had nowhere to hide)

 

I remember the snow smelling faces

Which decorated our mirrors

We did recognize them

Didn’t we?

From their traces

And the trample of ugly boots

We did recognize them

(We had nowhere to hide)

Their steps thronging our consternated throats

in boots heedless of the frost bites,

In the depth of solitary nights.

Did you smell the weed on which our boat floats

and what remains of its rudders:

Bedraggled like those stranded kites,

we flew when the air was not in shudders.

 

(They had nowhere to hide)

My mother sang me a lullaby,

my mother had not slept for a while,

her hands the same: craggy and agile.

the wooden ceiling emanated the same tie:

sulky fumes of disdain.

We were never given to forgetfulness,

We were occupied.

 

They have gathered men in the playground

of our old school building.

(They say my grandfather had studied there,

though it is in shambles now.

A young lad was killed here last week;

Oh I mean a young militant)

Women have been taken to the Gurdwara premises

Little children dotting their muddled steps.

Who cares for the already cooked lunch?

(They have nowhere to hide)

 

A kid sits in the lap of his father,

a sweat streak rolling down his damsel cheeks.

(The man must be a loving father)

The kid looks at the horror and the hands,

imploring his father for the novelty,

“Would you get me this rifle on EID?”

He must have thought about impressing his school friends!

Eid was round the corner.

 

we were never given to forgetfulness!

An old man and his decrepit forehead frown

sit silent in a corner,

Like the grandiose weight of an obscure noun

(when appearing within the poise of a colloquial poem)

He does not want to talk,

his old lady is reported faint and in rags

Crying with the tears, though commonplace now.

They remember he had a son,

He did cross over to the other side

They say that makes him take a ride

to the fettered side of consciousness,

we cannot contest death though we may decide for the meet.

Eid was round the corner.

We had nowhere to hide.

We were occupied.

 

Who cares for the already cooked lunch?

It is an hour past noon,

A few of them in the borrowed attire

(Paid a little less than what might have kept them human)

flutter a big grin,

People always wonder at the sight of

street dogs– pale and thin

whining at the sight of disdain

(They seem to forget the bark)

Do they smell the foreign face

Like the blush of disgrace!

It is an hour past noon.

Yester-night was a full moon,

It smiled and held me tight

against the shiver of that cold night.

And I knew with the crackling of the utensils

my mother had not slept for a while,

her hands the same: craggy and agile.

Eid was round the corner.

We were never given to forgetfulness.

 

The sun going down ashamed

and bruised all along its predictable course,

takes with it the picturesque translation of the bid:

Wherein men are made to scream hoarse

and women relegated to the hue in eyes half sunk

Children return to forgetfulness: wishful and drunk.

(That ‘alcohol’ forced up their tender eyebrow tips)

One couldn’t make out their dry lips;

we were never given to forgetfulness.

 

Eid was skipped in all its repetitive sanctity,

Small girls don’t want to go to school anymore.

(Small boys too aren’t shy with their plea)

The horror in the woods has a handsome score.

Boys from high school have disappeared into distances

measured with the entwined barbed wire along distant fences.

Back home most of the elderly are expecting their return

(Perhaps too used to their long pampered hopes)

and they return, one after other, each in his turn.

They travelled damsel miles in novelty,

and we were never given to forgetfulness.

 

A mother sings to his child of the inability,

there have been none before in the town

So sure of death’s patience—curtailed and wee.

Nor have they been so heedless of the frown

(Which resides on the faces like an incessant plea)

Rose petals dedicate their short lived fragrance

to the dying delicacy on grandma’s withering cheek.

(She waited long enough to see her grandson disappear)

And now her face muscles smile only to appear meek.

We were deemed homeless,

and we had nowhere to hide.

 

They search for an entity’s vicissitude

in the realm of their life’s picturesque cluttering,

(the entity called Aazadi when uttered with unharmed lips)

they search for it through their night’s unarmed flips.

The days are marred by an absentee dementia,

leading eyes to swallow their wet eyelids raw,

leading hands to surrender when expected to draw,

While they search for an entity’s vicissitude.

We had nowhere to hide,

and we were never given to forgetfulness.

 

While in a bid to restore their dead to peace,

when the murderer left for a good night’s sleep,

ask them about the words they left

half chocked while in a hurry to the monastery,

they will be reminded of a grand theft

that had divested our town of the merry.

 

Death is a dirge,

Sung like an upsurge of the life’s untraded dreams.

Or, may be, a merry song when our smiles merge,

within the peripheries of deliberate sobbing screams.

We were deemed homeless,

and we were never given to forgetfulness.

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