Martyr's Paradise — A Poem by Kamran Bashir

Feb 21, 2021

Young Kamran Bashir from Tral returns with a poem that is composed by nine others, threaded together by the retrieval of memories otherwise made elusive by the present and forcefully swept under the rug to accumulate dust—only to explode into a cloud of remembrance when the young poet picks up the pen and scattered thoughts and dispersed moments are (re)collected through the craft of his verse.

Martyr's Paradise
— A Poem by Kamran Bashir

What are the screams like when a dead body cries?

—Feroz Rather


| (2003)

I have two homelands: memory and the night.
This is not a vague longing,
I come from Tral and I have memories.
There is a rift but
I find a welcome of sorts
in the ruins of memory.
Tral is that memory,
a memory in verse as
yai kiska lahoo hai / Yai kaun mar gaya...[1]



Who has come this far for martyrdom here?
Mother lies shaken,
her eyes skating over the frozen shops of fire,
stains of blood that left their counterparts
at a burnt shop near M.Y Medicate.

Baji—while spinning Yinder[2]—rumbles,
Zinda rozan bapath chhi maran lukh, che marakh na
Loti paeth chekha pyaale kyuho uff ti karakh na…[3]



Mother did not cross that path
for the next ten years
and one day she discovered
no shops but a line of cobblers there
stitching the threads of cracked memory.

Mother fainted with the sound of falling snow,
she kept looking at the thin light of a moon
scattered all over the dry branches
groping for burning hands
in the fainthearted fog of winter...

Father kept his photograph deep down inside his suitcase
Mother buried memories in the attic…
clothes, shoes, photographs
and now, as this memory touches history,
our disaster finds a way out with dust and light.



I see a hound in Nazi threads
coming out of the compartment
from the eastward ends,
fire in his hands
searching along the shops,
by a restaurant called Shahjaar that now stands there
next to some ancient burial sites
—for the half dead—
setting fires, burning boys alive.

Those sounds, as of a rushing crowd
and the pauses in their silence,
I grasp it all, and lose it all
as I untie the trial of an epoch.



The same happenings, mornings and mournings
where we do not forget to scream
na hoga raegan khun e shahidaan e vatan hargiz
Yahi surkhi banegi ek din unvan e azadi[4]

We lose sight.

Yet through the bullet holes,
burnt shops, reverberating screams
and sobs coming from half burnt bodies
asking for water
I gather my memory
to be in their history.



This memory envelopes colours: green, white, red
and sometimes just darkness,
that shifts by the unexpectedness of tense,
disappears by your arrival,
and draws behind dark furrows
from the nose to the unconscious.

You give me a place in your memory.
I hope for the arrival of a parcel of numb hands
untouched by political sagacity.

I lose my diction, my words and the ornaments of war.
I affirm the burial of my doubts and thoughts.


VII (2016)

Hundreds wounded as they wait for Hum Nasheen[5],
their Ghazi[6], to bloom again.
Faizan says,
the caravan of the Comandante shall coexist
to the vantage of a collective memory.
We shall meet again at Eidgah Tral,
by the roads leading to Sharief Abad,
opening our arms with glamouring salutes.



Gun salutes,
young boys,
women on the rooftops,
comrades singing
Chouyn Burhan, Mouyn Burhan...[7]
all of the old and new slogans
echoing in the lanes of Sharief Abad.[8]

At home, outside our yard
they blind countless.
That summer was incredibly long,
a different season,
bleak nights counting enormous pellets
that become big with the bruises
and scars they leave in their trail.



Now today, as the news spreads through 2G
they say:
Talk of revolution as an idea
an idea rotting the force
produced by the material cause.
Can you remind me of your revolution?
08, 09, 10, 16, 19.
What's your war cry?

Everything promised is here,
he's there
there are memories
burnt, buried, alive,
there are echoing gunshots.
We too are there, for memory sake.

—For Ishfaq, Khalid and Burhan who now exist in memory.


[1] Whose blood is this, who died?

This blood is Kashmir's, this Kashmir is mine.

This a reference to Shabnam Qayoom’s book on Kashmir that sheds light on the insurgency and brutalities suffered in the past. Tral too has its horrendous history, a dirty history peopled by both traitors and heroes.

[2] Spinning wheel

[3] These are verses by recognized Kashmiri poet Prof. Dr Rehman Rahi, translated here by Dr. Wasia:

We struggle every day to live this life

and in that struggle, we die a thousand deaths.

We suffer

that suffering is no less than death

so people die in order to live

and this life itself makes us accept so much bitterness

that we at times even fail to refuse that and are left
with no option but to have that cup of venom.


[4] This blood of the martyrs of our land will never run to waste
This headline will become the title of Freedom.

— words of Nazish Partap Gadhi

[5] Companion, friend, comrade, associate.

[6] Ghazi in Arabic translates to “the one who struggles.”

[7] Chouyn Burhan, Mouyn Burhan was a famous song released after the death of Burhan Wani. From Lolab to Islamabad, it was played everywhere, in mosques, street corners and alleyways, with children and the elderly reciting this song throughout Kashmir.

[8] Sharief Abad (Tral) is the place where Burhan lived.

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About the Contributor

Kamran Bashir is a student of English literature and a resident of Kuchmulla, Tral. Kamran finds shelter in reading literature from around the world, particularly Russian literature. His work has appeared in Aalaw, The Delhi Walla, Kashmir Pen, Oracle Opinions, among others. Some of his escapes from everyday life are trekking, writing and playing cricket. Kamran’s poetry and writing are informed by lived experiences in his native Tral and from his travels through Kashmir. Each of his words is dedicated to his homeland, Kashmir.