9 min read

Imagine a Passage from Kashmir to Palestine

Imagine a wound beating 

inside a bloodied shroud

                    Imagine people running away from the strip of Gaza 

                    bombed in the sea and sand. 

                    a dawn in Ramadan counting holes in their pale chests

                    looking for bodies through smoke and dust coming from 

                    the smashed house of bones

imagine a child crawling in cemeteries and bombed hospitals 

on small patches of land

imagine a disease in the stomach and tails of Caspers

Imagine a town in Kashmir 

Caspers in the streets and squares of downtown Tral

settlers in uniform moving out their heads

blowing whistles…

Imagine spiraling roads

mustard coasts of yellow across Diver, Kuchmull, Luro , Lurgam

Imagine a village where Crackdown runs for three days 

men asked to dig their graves 

women peeping through chimneys in the attic

catching giant shadows of settlers 

Imagine a funeral march 

a memory that catches the sight of

of Martyrs boots

rescued to home for burial

voices, as of a rushing crowd, and the pauses in their silence 

that crack my memory into long boredoms

                    Imagine the Day of Badr 

                    Imagine people marching in the rain to Dadsur

                    meeting the face of their dead martyr 

                    Imagine the hissing sound of their muddy bottoms

Imagine a mother

waiting for her son 

Ishfaq, one early morning in his light yellow dress, maybe 

nestled to his mother as she makes tea in the morning

                    Imagine her eyes skating over the frozen shops of fire

                    stains of blood that left their counterparts at a burnt shop near M.Y Medicate 

Imagine an alley heaved up with sunshine

Imagine now a disaster finding its way out with dust and light

                    Imagine the eyes of a crowd hit by pellets

                    Hundreds wounded as they wait for Hum Nasheen

Imagine the silence of bullet holes, 

burnt shops,

and sobs coming from half-burnt bodies asking for water

                    Imagine a passage leading to Palestine 

                    Imagine a people in Kashmir 

                    by the roads leading to Sharief Abad

                    opening their arms with salutes

Imagine a memory enveloping colours 

drawing behind dark furrows 

from the nose tip to the unconscious

always shifting by the unexpectedness of tense

                    Imagine a scream for a place in someone’s memory

                    of dislocation and genocide 

                    Imagine a world hoping for a parcel of numb hands 

                    untouched by political sagacity

Imagine a language losing its diction and words 

Imagine a lullaby sung in the backdrop of war

Imagine a wound crying for its shroud 

Imagine! Imagine a wound at the other end of the bloodied passage 

Imagine a passage from Kashmir to Palestine

Hours of Grief

There is grief to be teleported 

from across the balcony of the murder

to the tormented lines of palms

                    What use of grief when 

                    the night is over? 

                    I know the troubles and fears

There's grief to be teleported into the dark interval

without the love of a woman

let alone the difficulty of this cosmic thrust

                        the boy that was born out of your memory

                         What will you name him?

lookup through the bare blue skies 

no book or bread

however neat and clean 

can calm this dissatisfaction

this must be a deliberate act of love

Before the dark what was my love like?

All night, bold contemplations and quiet correspondences;

In the terrifying darkness of the soul, how does a poem survive___

___ after long hours of sobbing?

Hands near my shoulders

What would the world be like, once 

bereft of lovers? 

The sunken taste of oranges 

impetus in the road I came across 

to hold up the wet towels of grief

                    At midnight, nausea plunges into needles 

                    to stitch decaying truths

A thing of poetry

to vomit out chokes

my throat

from up above the grave of my friend

there develops an unsettling rumpus 

long arms to grasp a vast loneliness.

I stare upon the ridged skull behind the ear lobes.

                    there was an emergency

                    things I said to you, 

                    I will escape from the sea,

no screams

none at all 

mobile data is turned off

                    By the lake, the ferryman dismantles all the secrets 

                    like aborted babies into a new ocean

this ugly war plumes tenderness 

in skies

voices that say 

Humans are made of grief 


                    I trudge along the graveyards to the last embankments 

                    of eternity

Temporary cabins where they washed my family portrait

wetness of deeds that cloak souls

while they leave for stars from the swollen aisles

                    I see rain falling over the humid

                    charcoal streets

Hands from graves that pull me down 

bring home a face so pale and bloodied

 covered in bandage and cotton

a face so stuck in time and space

that he ever smiles

a terrible beauty that shrinks time into 

a molecule of hope

I have been taught not to talk about death 

but life in its prettiest sense

They conceal love in defamations

There is pain to avoid

there's delusion to be transfixed in her eyes

Am I to question this secret life and lie now?

Some days, you are Masoodi 

On other days you are Maryam

                    I am empty without the heart 

                    I am empty without you

                                        You hold the night’s pandemonium


that slowly reveal the maps of lovers &

tablets of sleep

                    How large is the history of grief 

                    How long shall the Yaar stay in the ruins

The Shroud of Pandemic

pour some plain facts 

in this poem

pour some placid poetry 

over his grave

he won’t come back to 

announce the schedule for the cricket tournament

he’s buried somewhere near

the alley where he threw grenades 

or the backyards and open fields

from where he would break the cordon

before the pandemic 

they killed 

the last rebel near the bed of Wusturwan

In the pandemic

we pilgrimed to Wusturwan and 

found his name 

carved on rocks and trunks of trees :

                    ‘Hammad’ ‘Hammad Hizbi’

you do not see those names again

I tell them to weaponize this plain fact :

rain drizzling from roofs, August rain

recollecting my tears 

August sunshine 

heaving up the elephant corpse

dampness lodges spiders 

Spiders sinking into the pellet collecting cobwebs, and 

poetry drawing lines of prophecy

And then in December 

inserting knives into walnuts

collected from the beaks of crows or

under T-shirts tucked in trousers

Inside the sub-district hospital 

he is wiping pictures from the gallery

Photos he took near the Dam

while fishing, or the winter album :

                    ‘he thinks life would be fine if he wipes history and formats his device ’ 

tears fall into his eyes

October chill drops in again

Outside a cycle shop, when Caspers pass by

 he imagines ‘roads long rain’

An old man, a cycle mechanic, says 

                    ‘you smile like your father, you have his eyes ’

I imagine


like the August rain

never dies

Amma gulps down warm water 

          ‘they will not spare the Tableeghis,’ she mumbles

the disease is everywhere;

crossroads, stations 


outside the departments of 

our University

                    This is a Panopticon chamber of secrets … the grenades 

                    seem to be nowhere… every walking man is a grenade

In the Pandemic, they blast

a house by the forlorn edges of NH44

they take away their bodies to the places

where Jhelum enters the other side of the line

Ather writes his name on the trunks of Apple Trees 

His father watches him fade into the white flood of dandelions 

And the wails lock into the offices of Justice

In my hometown Tral 

military occupation replaces the traffic police

what is left of history : 

white Cemeteries on small patches of land;

People passing by every day… that is the routine

they stand upright in the stomach of Caspers

and the tails of jeeps

this shark moves like a disease 

and it compels the trespassers 

to wear masks …

the diseased officer wears no mask

Ten lakh troopers by the lake in Kashmir

lights circling the city 

our hearts are dull and dark 

for we accept to live in a situation 

that has cracked upon us the blues of a decomposed dusk.

what it means to a soldier or an SPO

locating a grin on our faces

while he finds an Afghan warrior on WhatsApp display picture

what it means to us

to have a solitary STF checkpoint

that was never there before the Pandemic,

                    Today, those checkpoints are permanent.

what it means to their boss

who stops us from moving, smiling 

or not smilingfor wearing no helmet 

the skull that is bound to be shot,

to get cordoned off by the Military settlers

while you were only having a picnic around the cliffs of Shaldraman Tral.

You have to yell, 

          ‘hum civil hai, hum civil haiʼ 

until they lower the muzzle

                    They will ask for IDs 

                    They will take your pictures

They will ask at last if you were here to smoke weed

whether you saw any men walking with arms

What will we ever do 

this humiliation lurks in our throats 

like the smoke of hell

What does the boss care for?

he won’t forget to give you a lecture on morals, kindness, duty and discipline

What does it mean for me to return home alive

shrugging shoulders 

while I step forward in the kitchen 

and offer greetings as 

Assalamualaikum ... Assalamualaikum

Kamran Bashir is a final-year English literature graduate student at the University of Kashmir. He takes great interest in exploring writers from around the world. Milan Kundera, J.M. Coetzee, Dostoevsky, James Baldwin, Rilke, and Karl Ove Knausgaard are some of his favourites. He is also deeply interested in cinema, having spent considerable time exploring the films of Kiarostami, Terrence Mallick, Satyajit Ray, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Nuri Ceylan, and Jaffar Panahi, among others.

* The email will not be published on the website.