Malik Aabid’s poem offers a profound meditation on the changing landscape of Kashmir with the advent of modernity and its consumerist ecosystem. These verses offer a musing of sorts about the changes from the last few decades with uneven yet constant construction that have sidelined the poetry that inherently exists in the land and in its natural beauty. The poem inspired by a rainy day reflects nostalgia and a melancholic awareness of a passing and the resulting loss that it brings with it. The poet invokes the late Agha Shahid Ali to trail back to a time when the simplicity of life in Kashmir was not so conditioned and suffocated by constant acceleration and movement. A rainy day certainly seems to create a pause that the poet employs to recover a poetic depth from rain, one that is lost to the mundane and to those preoccupied with routine. In fact, this poem itself is that pause, manifest in verse.
Kashmir: An Elegy to the Memory of Rain
It rains as I write this.
A wordsmith from my dell famously said:
Mad heart, be brave.
Profound words with impassioned export.
It rains again, all over the valley, Agha,
in the countryside and in your forlorn city.
This place has many homes
with shiny roofs and pretty lawns
big cars and bigger smirks.
There is no poetry though
it has been washed away,
along with innocence.
No new songs either
those were muffled by the horns
coming from the cars of the nouveau riche.
When I look at the ashen clouds
there are no ballads, no fervor.
A zillion drops of rain
whispering to my reverie.
Why are the poets silent?
Why is no one proclaiming the wet dance?