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I Am Shahid — A Poem by Babra Sharief

Feb 20, 2020

Babra Sharief's poem ties a knot between the grief of the most recognized Kashmiri poet in contemporary times and the grief found in the poetic voice of her verses. Such a poetic unfolding retrieves the sense of loss that Agha Shahid Ali mourned in many of his poems, thereby making such a lament the inheritance of the young poet and her readers, particularly the Kashmiri ones.

Babra Sharief's poem ties a knot between the grief of the most recognized Kashmiri poet in contemporary times and the grief found in the poetic voice of her verses. Such a poetic unfolding retrieves the sense of loss that Agha Shahid Ali mourned in many of his poems, thereby making such a lament the inheritance of the young poet and her readers, particularly the Kashmiri ones.

I Am Shahid

Shahid, in exile, painted reveries in ink;
Home, a faraway dream, envisioned only in dreams
His yearning sprung by the Jhelum tonight:
Of postcards and post offices, undelivered and deserted.
Could he but envision the paradise, his mother’s feet too?
Could he imagine himself immersed in that dim-lit corner of home too?
A word, a wail, a messenger from home, did he wait for too?

A drowned Shikara
Did Shahid feel like her too?
He’d dread the loss of his mother, of Kashmir, of home
Where barbed wires intertwined telephone lines;
This is the closest I have been to that heaven,
This is the closest I have been to this hell.

The post office has started receiving letters of longing once more,
Their distant sights pierce us deeper than their bullets yet again.
Will this Jhelum be ours again?
Is that Chinar ours still?
Or did they sell it too?
Like they sold our being here.

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About the Contributor

Babra Sharief is a Young India Fellow in Liberal Arts at Ashoka University. She has done her Masters in English Literature from University of Kashmir. Born and brought up in conflict-ridden Kashmir, she believes that poetry is a powerful form of resistance and a perfect medium of representation for the grotesque suffering and alienation of those torn apart by war. She is looking forward to pursuing her research in resistance literature that has shaped and captivated revolutions across cultures. Her other interests include dystopian literature, mysticism, performed poetry and music.

“Remember, remember
13th of July,
Martyrs of Kashmir
and their sacrifice
who bore witness
with the crimson skies
Heroes of Kashmir
who paid the price.
Remember, remember
13th of July
Remember, remember
13th of July.”

—from: 13th of July, MC Kash

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