Poetry in Translation

Lightness of Being in Kashmir: The World’s Most Militarized Zone

by Asiya Zahoor

Allow to Srinagar. 10/4/19 (10 April) Signed Seal: EX (ecutive) MAGISTRATE TEH/DISTT ANG (Anantnag) [in South Kashmir]
before armored tanks hedge
the Shalimar gardens
let’s sing of almond blossoms

before they crack open
our skulls to harvest thoughts
let’s think what we want to think

before they shoot a burst of pellets
from shotguns into soulful eyes
let’s mirror our darkness

before they wrap barbed wire
around our tongues
let’s whisper our dreams

and engrave our longings
on our palms
before they erase history

* * *

Asiya Zahoor, who studied at Oxford University, teaches Linguistics at a college in Baramulla, 34 km from the Line of Control dividing India from Pakistan controlled Kashmir.

Translated from the original Kashmiri by Rafiq Kathwari, who says, “Here’s life imitating a poem:  Curfew Pass stamped on a palm.”

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