Three Poems for Six Months of Silence — by Salik Basharat

Feb 8, 2020

Relying on the subtlety of the verse, Salik Basharat introduces three poems for six months of silence in Kashmir to amplify the depth of meaning found in Kashmiri life and its everyday experience. “A Postcard from Gulmarg Dated 27th April 2019” carelessly signs itself off to the reader through the precise verses of the young poet. “Six Haikus from Kashmir (August 2019 – January 2020)” oscillates in poetic form, between the plurality of six haikus for six months and the partitioned structure of one poem, depending on how readers engage with its verses. وہ مہکار غل اور وہ دانا بلبل (translated “The Garden and the Nightingale”) balances despair and hope on the thin fine line of everyday life trapped between grief and uncertainty.

Relying on the subtlety of the verse, Salik Basharat introduces three poems for six months of silence in Kashmir to amplify the depth of meaning found in Kashmiri life and its everyday experience. “A Postcard from Gulmarg Dated 27th April 2019” carelessly signs itself off to the reader through the precise verses of the young poet. “Six Haikus from Kashmir (August 2019 – January 2020)” oscillates in poetic form, between the plurality of six haikus for six months and the partitioned structure of one poem, depending on how readers engage with its verses. وہ مہکار غل اور وہ دانا بلبل (translated “The Garden and the Nightingale”) balances despair and hope on the thin fine line of everyday life trapped between grief and uncertainty.

A Postcard from Gulmarg Dated 27th April 2019

A dull orange lulled me to dream
of saffron boiling in Samovars
on the streets of Gulmarg.

A convoy seems to scream
in hushed hues of gunmetal
on the streets of Gulmarg.

Pamposh, yi josh kate chut onmut?
O Lotus, wherefrom comes this zeal of yours?

Yours carelessly,
A Postcard from Gulmarg.

Six Haikus from Kashmir (August 2019 - January 2020)

Month 1, daGaabaaz[1]
Perverted justice!
Trust walked into your temple
and came out a slave.  

Month 2, Sōn Kandur[2]
Our busy Kandur
sells politics, news, bread, and
hope to the hungry.  

Month 3, Yim Matador kotu gaiy?[3]
Matador, drive past!
I ache to see you oppose
all of rich Kashmir.  

Month 4, Shīn ha pĕwan.[4]
Snow falls silently
on your thoughts and your voices –
bring out your shovels.   

Month 5, Iqra![5]
Read! Kashmiris read!
“Goran vonunam kunuy vatsun
Nebra dopnam ander atsun”[6] 

Month 6, Kital[7]
Kashmir’s a kettle
forgotten on the stove top
whistling forever.

[1] Translation: A cheat
[2] Translation: Our baker
[3] Translation: Where have all the busses gone?
[4] Translation: It is snowing
[5] Translation: Read!
[6] Translation by Neerja Mattoo, Mystic and the Lyric:
“My teacher gave me a word of wisdom, From outside bade me turn within.”
[7] Translation: Stovetop Kettle

وہ مہکار غل اور وہ دانا بلبل

دشت مایوسی پے چھایا ہے ابر آ لود و بے قراری
دیکھو سُلا رہے ہیں معلم ساز مذہب لیے ہوئے

فقط برس جاے برگ چنار پے درود دِل دلیل آگاہی
اور پھٹ پڑے زمین پر وہ سیاہ بادل سیے ہوئے

پھر شاید یہ سوکھی مٹی سمولے آہستہ آہستہ
فایدہ زخم روح و صبر مزاحمت

اور پھر شاید پیدا کرے رحم سے یہ اس بار
وہ مہکار غل اور وہ دانا بلبل

Transliteration: Woh mehkar gul aur woh dana bulbul

Dasht-e-mayoosi pe chaaya hai abr-e-aalud-o-be qaraari
Dekho sula rahe hai mualim saaz-e-mazhab liye hue

Faqat baras jaye barg-e-chinar pe darood-e-dil, daleel-e-agaahi
Aur phat pade zameen par woh siyah baadal siye hue

Phir shayad yeh sookhi mitti samole aahista aahista
Faida e zakhm e rooh o sabr e muzhamat

Aur phir shayad paida kare rahm se yeh is baar
Woh mehkar gul aur woh dana bulbul

Translation: The Garden and the Nightingale

Over our despairing wilderness unease looms
Come, hear the preachers sing to us
their lullaby of belief

If only these dark skies above
would burst – upon this land – open
And pour out
the heart’s remembrance
those fables of imprisoned reason
And speak sentences – measured –
onto the wilted leaves of a chinar

Then – perhaps – our parched earth
will soak in the comfort
of the soul’s agony
of patient defiance

Then – perhaps – our piteous earth
will yield from it’s bosom
that garden – fragrant
the promised nightingale – wise

-Translation by Salik Basharat and Azhar Wani

All images courtesy of the contributor

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About the Contributor

Salik Basharat is an independent researcher working on Kashmiri Literature and Philosophy at Ashoka University. Prior to his completion of the Young India Fellowship in 2019, Salik worked on several community-based projects in Saudi Arabia. His personal project, Expatriate Tales, documents the discrimination faced by working-class expatriates in KSA. He has also worked with Blank Noise, a community art project headed by Jasmeen Patheja, to spread awareness about sexual violence and the blame narrative in India. Salik was the Editor of Dream Compass, a quarterly literary magazine, and a member of the Executive Body of SAASC (Students Association and Study Circle) at Punjab Engineering College. He is currently filming a docu-series about Kashmiri poetry with Professor Abir Bazaz.

Knowledge is like Teher.
A handful of cooked rice
a humble offering
to ward off the grief
from an entire century.
Whosoever receives Teher
does so with blessings
and well wishes.
Today the T in Teher
is the T in Taaleem
just as the K in Kashmir
is the K in your name.
From Teōtīhuacān to Tral
we make a humble offering.

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