Kashmiri Haecceity — A Poem by Saba Zahoor

Mar 17, 2021

Saba Zahoor’s poem on Kashmir presents her place of origin as existing outside of a human-made time. Through her verses, the poet traverses multiple histories and addresses Kashmir as a being, an entity that has endured the heavy burdens of history. In that, Kashmir is a woman, an old woman who does not break, but withers slowly into inexistence or unbeing.

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.

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About the Contributor

Saba Zahoor was born and raised in Srinagar, Kashmir. She is a civil engineer by profession and an alumna of NIT, Srinagar. In a conflict zone, nobody can escape self expression. It is there even in their silence. She does not call herself a poet; poetry is just her way around writing daily. In her free time, she spends a considerable amount of time on books of any genre, especially those on dystopia, existentialism and absurdism. She is a science enthusiast, and passionate about astronomy, archeology, history and psychology.

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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