Although Kamran Bashir’s poem is charged with lived experiences from his native Tral, his verses are relatable to every corner of Kashmir, and in particular the rural side, where the night becomes a battleground for sleep and a territory occupied by insomnia. The conflict between sleep and sleeplessness is best conveyed by the vigil of Bashir’s verses that venture far beyond the question of sleep in the many nights that both Tral and Kashmir have seen.
I join you from the wastelands of my memory
where I am in exile within a home
encroached upon by the occupation.
It is brutal to stand
on the brink of dreams,
yet I bury this occupation's memory
night upon night.
It is damaged
by the repose of death,
by the sound of shells,
by the horror of dreams
and philosophical recitations.
I reckon this is a scene out of my window,
out of the trembling glass, faraway,
in the laps of Wusturwan,
surely out of the place.
We lost peace on that raised mound of earth
—of which I have a bleak and prevented memory.
They came prepared and vigilant
—out of their compounds
with loaded carbines,
men from our lot, with them—
to track him down
Every step approaching him
itself a shell of the projectile.
In old frames,
they took his corpse away.
What was left:
sobs, fractured hopes, shell casings, funerary rites,
Holy Scriptures, along with testimonies
rarely recorded as is.
And at dusk,
memory poured into unstained blood,
thin light coming from the bullet holes.
Loot wasn't a surprise.
They had poured booze over the bodies.
Alongside, we had shutterbugs
obliged by sobs
and the habit of memorialisation.
I leave you with the question of Snow,
the question of winter,
the question of a new dawn,
the question of healing the Partisan,
the question of obligation,
of resistance and revolution.
And the question of extraordinary mounds of history
tucked away under the Himalayas
buried deep in the graves
of those who speak to the stars now.
I can hear their voices up above.
it is time for a farewell
for the hunt for my sleep is over.