Poem

Mother Writes to the ‘Lion of Kashmir,’ Long Deceased

February 2020
Dear Sheikh Sahib,

They tell me,
you are buried on the left bank of Naseem lake with views
of Hazratbal shrine, your tomb guarded by India’s troops.

I tell them,
this represents one of those paradoxes’ history keeps throwing
up: the same people who jailed you for many years now guard
your tomb and the same people whose ‘Lion’ you were are un-
happy with you for throwing their lot with the illiberal Pandit
Nehru who strung up Kashmir on the flagpole of secularism.

The world approved, but for decades the Congress Party
did to Kashmir by night what today the BJP is doing by light.

Sheikh Sahib, in your heart of hearts, you must have known
that we the Muslims of Kashmir struck at the core of Hindu
nationalist idea of Akhand Bharat, united, undivided India
from Afghanistan to Myanmar Thailand Cambodia and Laos.

They tell me,
today anyone who roars, ‘Azadi,’ dares the official spin
about what’s actually going on, is branded like livestock
‘cross-border jihadi terrorist’ or worse, blinded with pellets
from a shot gun, Made in Israel, ‘Kashmiri is happy,’ avow
glib TV anchors, bankrolled by neo-liberal arms agents
serving Western gun runners.

They tell me,
immensity of facts does not support tissue of lies
that six million Kashmiris love to be occupied
by a million troops who are immunized, even for rape,
by a syrupy Special Powers Act.

Six million! It demands repeating, for RSS
knicker wallahs marching to the drumbeat
of Hindu supremythology (a coinage is better than
an overused cliché), aided by your son and his
have turned a Vale of Lotus Eaters, the Sufi saints,
into the world’s most militarized zone.

Sheikh Sahib, they agree with me, you were human,
all too human: with one stroke of your fountain pen
you gave tillers the land they ploughed, emancipating
peasants from serfdom, angering the Dogra despots,
a sexually transmitted dynasty, proprietors of paradise
its people, flora fauna, its Chinars, pashmina goats—
these are words from the Treaty of Amritsar, they tell me.

Despots banished you from paradise to Kodiakanal,
which, as you may know, in Tamil means ‘the gift
of the forest—’ yet another paradox of history.

They tell me
Gone days when the refrain Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah
answered our sovereign plea, Azadi Ka Matlab Kya?

They tell me
Today’s trendy refrain Mohammed Ali Jinnah will
one day be Jamhooriya Jamhooriya. Inshallah.

O, Lion of Kashmir, they tell me
Neanderthals of Nagpur, their Hindu nationalist blood
boiling, will in July again spread the legs of a glacier
in Kashmir, will encourage thousands of infirm pilgrims
up an unforgiving mountain under armed protection
to worship Shiva’s icy lingam while locking up shrines
of Sufis where six million Kashmiris bow to Allah.

This is how India will weaponize its spiritual tourist,
if you are a Hindu. That is what the voices tell me.

Truly, Maryam Jan, Hebrew Home, The Bronx.

by Rafiq Kathwari / @brownpundit

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