Poems and Tales

Mother Writes to the Turkish Ambassador in Karachi

17 April 1958

Your Excellency,
thank you for the portrait
of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who yanked
women of Turkey kicking and screaming
into the 20th century.

Please accept this modest shawl I promised.
Every stitch has been hand-embroidered
by the blessed women artisans
of Kashmir who have spilled their sadness
with threads and barbed wire, weaving
the wrath of history.

An iron necklace frames the square shawl.
Four doves with broken wings sit in corners.
Himalaya gallops the wind.
A river rises to discover clouds.
A moon in the center grins
back at a helmeted head
shooting at her, as you will see.

The blessed women artisans
of Kashmir convey best wishes
to the brave daughters of Turkey.
I hope Ankara undoubtedly supports
our right to self-determination. We

have been fighting long for freedom.
We thank you and your country
for the goodwill you have shown.

Yours faithfully, Mrs. Maryam Jan,
Katrina Bungalow, Pindi Point,
Murree, West Pakistan.

by Rafiq Kathwari / @brownpundit