Driving Lolita in the World’s Most Militarized Zone

A boy, I hid
in grandpa’s study.

An art dealer
he loved books

with gilded edges,
Aristotle to Zola

all stuck together
in the humidity.

I snuck Lo out
to his black Chevy

rifled for the dirty bits
(should ’ve looked harder, I guess),

drove her away for a spin
teen tunes swirling in my head

I Want to Hold Your Hand.
A crackdown in downtown ‑—

mothers hid their young sons.
“We fear they’ll take them away.”

A soldier rained pellets
on a nymphet’s face,

light of her mother’s eye.
“Moji,” nymphet said,

“Nothing can be seen,
as far as the eye can see.”

Along the boulevard
barbed wire fenced Dal Lake

a cracked mirror
polished by a soft breeze.

Ageet Hain Abheet Hain — motto
of the Border Security Force

plowed deep into the green
of Zabarvan, defacing it,

bold letters visible for miles,
below white turbans on peaks.

Pari Mahal
once an abode of fairies

now of butterflies,
memory is a silence.

Concertina wire hedged Shalimar,
bullet ridden Toyotas in bazaars.

An explosion of tulips dancing,
Azadi streaked in their hearts.

A paisley-shaped river
sobbed through a dazed valley.

Amputated tree trunks screamed,
reams of plastic choked icy streams.

An ancient Sufi shrine oddly gutted
its rich latticework lost.

New architecture
showed no awe for Nature.

Half-widows wailed
clawing at mass graves

yearned for their disappeared.
“We’re all lifeless here. Hello!”

At Zero Bridge
lilacs by bunkers bloomed.

A nightingale sang
of joy, not sorrow.

A Lord of the Skies
broke the sound barrier.

Startled, stray dogs howled.
In Grandpa’s black Chevy

Lolita slid
from my lap

our ominous odyssey.


By Rafiq Kathwari / @brownpundit