There are no suitable words to describe or introduce Zabirah Fazili’s latest poem. Within such verses one finds an utterance that every Kashmiri mother, tending to her family, has brought to her lips—with the ringing of gunfire in the horizon or an eerie silence ushered in by the passing of daylight. That utterance is one tragically guided by an intuition that Kashmiri mothers have—a sixth sense that connects them to those who they love with devotion, as if their spirits lived within those loved ones. In interviews and testimonials by many mothers of Kashmir, when they narrate the happenings of a horror that has left an open wound in their hearts and memory, they often recall the day when trauma took shape due to a horrific event—and they refer to something odd, an ominous sign, or some glitch in their quotidian space on that fateful day of irremediable grief and pain. In her poem, the young poet captures—within that one utterance and the verses that contain it—an intuition that defies logic and resides in the presentiment of the mothers, spouses, siblings, daughters, and women of Kashmir who over decades of horrors have developed the ability to smell death in the air. That ability takes heartbreak and grief to abysmal depths where language fails to convey an understanding. It is here that Zabirah’s poetry succeeds to transmit such a heartbreak and grief through her verses because they are relatable to far too many Kashmiris confined, among other prisons, to the prison of silence.
With a camera in hand, Adil Manzoor returns home to his Kashmir, and in returning, he also returns to a silence that is familiar yet strange. In these photographs, Adil tries to locate that silence in multiple ways, where photography as an “objective” visual medium traces in black and white the subjective and intersubjective matter of thought, distraction, meditation, loss and entrancement. The young photographer finds these situated in a silence that is peculiarly Kashmiri and that is drawn on Kashmiri landscapes and on the Kashmiri faces he captures in black and white.
The Values of Independent Hip-Hop in the Post-Golden Era: Hip-Hop’s Rebels (2019, Palgrave Macmillan) — by Christopher Vito
Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, this book uncovers the historical trajectory of U.S. independent hip-hop in the post-golden era, seeking to understand its complex relationship to mainstream hip-hop culture and U.S. culture more generally. Christopher Vito analyzes the lyrics of indie hip-hop albums from 2000-2013 to uncover the dominant ideologies of independent artists regarding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and social change. These analyses inform interviews with members of the indie hip-hop community to explore the meanings that they associate with the culture today, how technological and media changes impact the boundaries between independent and major, and whether and how this shapes their engagement with oppositional consciousness. Ultimately, this book aims to understand the complex and contradictory cultural politics of independent hip-hop in the contemporary age.
“Chai, Khatai and a Militant” — An Excerpt from Sandeep Raina's A Bit of Everything (Context/Westland, 2020)
Inverse Journal presents an exclusive excerpt from Sandeep Raina’s recently released novel, A Bit of Everything (2020) courtesy of the publisher (Context/Westland). This excerpt is accompanied by an independently curated visual bibliography relevant to the novel and its author.
In this third instalment of the Karamat Ali Khan series, O. Kashmiri brings us the fictional account of how the Mountain Side, along with the entire Valley, was sold without the consent of Karamat’s people, and without a means to contest such a ludicrous sale. With all faith exasperated, a miracle within the natural order of things restores what was taken—from the land of the people to the hope seeded deep within its soil. Read on to find out how the snow becomes the medium of that miracle to remedy such a forced mass dispossession.
Nageen Rather returns to Inverse with a new short story where a “paradox of quantum superposition” like Schrödinger’s cat, both dead and alive, involves the case of a cow lost and found. In both states of loss and re-encounter, the theft of the cow and its supposed return are a burden for the house it belongs to. The nuances of Kashmiri culture, its hospitality and its ways prove to be cumbersome while in the background an indefinite curfew rages on to make things worse in an unfortunate pairing of propriety and misery.
On August 5, 2019, Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution were revoked to enforce the status of Union Territory on the state of Jammu and Kashmir without democratic consent from the Kashmiri people. As a measure to quell expected upheaval, the internet, TV channels, mobile telephony, landlines, press, public transport and air travel were taken out of circulation by government order while more Indian troops were moved into the Himalayan territory. In the pitch drop silence of indefinite siege, a poet wrote from his memory to “her heart” not knowing when his message would get across, while even houses from adjacent neighborhoods were left without communication with one another. This poem by Khawar Khan Achakzai is a reminder-in-verse of that time still fresh in the collective memory of Kashmir and its peoples, and a testament to the fact that no lockdown, siege or territory-wide curfew can keep a longing Kashmiri heart from beating.
Saba Zahoor’s poem on Kashmir presents her place of origin as existing outside of a human-made time. Through her verses, the poet traverses multiple histories and addresses Kashmir as a being, an entity that has endured the heavy burdens of history. In that, Kashmir is a woman, an old woman who does not break, but withers slowly into inexistence or unbeing.
“Nothing moved except the mirage”: Analysing Fear and Freedom in Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee
Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee presents an academic paper that is also a book review for Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s 2020 novel, “Minor Detail” (New Directions). A finalist for the National Book Award, “Minor Detail” is one of the most relevant works of contemporary Palestinian literature that connects 1949 and the Nakba with present day Palestine—as its protagonist digs into the past to uncover horrific truths. Mukherjee’s response and writing on the novel and its many themes is essential to understanding the greater depth to be found in decades of Israeli occupation over Palestinian land and life. The academic not only includes relevant criticism within this piece but also integrates theoretical formulations and observations by various scholars and thinkers that are pertinent to her own readings, such that through her ‘book-review-as-academic-paper’ one gets access to entire bodies and fields of knowledge, from postcolonial theory to resistance literature. Just as “Minor Detail” tells the story of a people and their larger history by means of a protagonist, Dr. Mukherjee’s paper offers multiple vectors of understanding in order to facilitate incisive critical engagement with this recent work of Palestinian literature.
In anticipation of the soon-to-be-released longform “Hip Hop Retrospective” piece commemorating the body of work that Cres has produced over the last two decades, Inverse Journal presents the premiere of Cres’ documentary entitled “CRES: ONE LIFE”—a film that gives an insight into this Hip Hop artist’s journey from his native Alicante (Spain) to the US, Latin America and the rest of the world. With Cres as a vessel and intermediary, the documentary uncovers a greater story of interconnectivity within various communities and diverse groups (within this genre), pointing to a larger world that the Hip Hop artist occupies and brings together throughout his musical trajectory, while at the same time sharing space with some of the most recognizable and underground artists, producers and industry creatives.
Dr. Inshah Malik speaks in relative detail about her monograph, “Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance Politics: The Case of Kashmir” (Palgrave Pivot, 2019). The book presents a considerable volume of research and knowledge about the agency of Muslim Kashmiri women and their varied roles in forming and shaping resistance, a subject that has been undermined, if not ignored, in the global arena of academic writing. As such, this seminal text serves to break multiple stereotypes and myths, while uncovering the history of a multifarious resistance by Kashmiri women, whether against state control, patriarchy (both militarized and societal) or political repression. As a visiting professor, Dr. Malik also gave a related lecture on the subject for the South Asia Center at the University of Washington earlier last year. Relevant links included.
On this symbolic day, we present Maqbool Bhat’s 1969 speech translated from Urdu by Wajahat Ahmad.