Kashmiri Haecceity — A Poem by Saba Zahoor
We are a dried-up pulp of the ancient city;
sun-dried vegetables blighted and forgotten
and left hanging in the dank attic:
we are the blanched souls of Kashmiri haecceity.
This is a struggle against the depraved
—the farcical conquerors, the plebeian oppressors;
A storytelling tradition, preserved in glaciers
—unseasonably melting froth into rivers unscathed.
It was once the sentinelled seat of wisdom
Men born with blood as ink and pens as swords
Now we are a nation of belittled sanctity
‘Tear gassed’ into a lost kingdom.
The empire has fallen into a heap of pelted stones
In the throes of madness, steered by a farrago
of accidental martyrs and self-professed prophets
leaving the weather-beaten Koshur to bemoan.
I enquired after her health and she,
sitting still like a portrait by the window,
in her deadpan voice recollected a wanwun:
“Be cshas ken; be cshas ne phetan, be cshas sirf gallan.”*
*I am a stone; I don’t break, I only wear away.
**Wanwun: a song from Kashmir’s folklore and tradition, sung typically by women.