IN KASHMIR, IT IS THE BOYS

This piece was first posted on "3 Quarks Daily".
https://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2016/08/friday-poem-3-6.html 

It is the boys, says the government man
on the Indian TV
who the parents should ask to stay away
away from the streets and stones
and sit, in front of lifeless computers
in dark, Internet banned, phones shut,
smeared with blood of their mates
drinking milk-less tea, dry-eyed
and stay calm [a must]
pretend the chains they keel under
are the gossamer-threads of democracy

shamelessly woven over Casspirs, pellet guns,
hiding the torn bodies of their dead, maimed
tortured, disappeared
and words they can’t speak or write
on a butchered map
a city full of peppered air, and bullets
It is the boys, says the government man
on the Indian TV
who the parents should ask to stay away
from the falcons perched in forests,
that dream of flying higher than the walls
freeing this open air prison,
covered with razor wires,
where Asiya and Neelofar drown,
on that stretch of Rambaira nallah,
shallower than shallow,
where ducklings learn to swim
It is the boys, says the government man
on the Indian TV
who the parents should ask to stay away
placing the boys as if corner bricks
in their edifice of tyranny, where the dying
are made to dig their graves,
and blamed,
for dying and living, thinking
It is the boys, says the government man
on the Indian TV
who the parents should ask to stay away
as if the boys are naughty toddlers, enchanted by oddities
as if their slogans are cuss-words that should not be used
as if their longing for freedom is a deviance not a right
as if Burhan is not our martyr like Bhagat Singh is yours,
as if the forests of Tral are not our Sierra Meistra
it is the boys, the government man should know –
yes, the Kashmiri boys, and know well –
those who are killed but their freedom lives
those who lose sight but their vision lives
those who stone the occupation without being occupied
it is the boys that the government man on Indian TV should know –
for, it is that, the boys in Kashmir grow every time your tyranny grows
and know this: it is not only the boys … it is the girls,
and everyone else


II
Don't bring any spice –
for our last dinner together
I will bring the only candle
Some sundried tomato that a neighbor shared
Warmed in borrowed mustard oil
You bring chochwor,
If at all, the baker in your alley opens today
Don't bring any spice –
My city,
that bride-in-transit-and-eternal- siege
[ravaged by a rabid army
on the way to her beloved’s home]
is laden with pepper tonight
Don't bring any spice –
for our last dinner together
if you crave salt.
we have tears


III
Take account
the largest crowd prayed for Burhan and counting
50 and more funeral prayers and counting
another sweet-faced martyr of Kashmir, and counting
[the terrorist in the Indian papers: another lie and counting]
The rain fell, mixing with tears and counting
Third Eid evening, and counting
Then they outdid tyranny, and counting
29 days days: 55 plus dead, and counting
4500+ maimed, and counting
100 and more eyes gouged, and counting
Wounded chanting Azadi, and counting
Mother’s lamenting their sons, and counting
Burning, tears, police stations, and counting
Tear gas, pellets, bullets, and counting
Fool-words: India, internal matter, normalcy and counting
Pakistan, UN complaints, paid agents, and counting
It is time, stop counting, counting, counting
Hear, the youth are taking account 

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