Kashmir Music Live (KML) returns to Inverse Journal with a long due review of one of the most lyrically dynamic and musically diverse songs from the corpus of Kashmiri Hip Hop. Here is KML’s review of the song “Safarnama” by emerging Kashmiri Hip Hop artist Qafilah.
A Movement in Kashmir’s Historiography: Reviewing Khalid Bashir’s Kashmir: Looking Back in Time — Dr. Javid Ahmad Ahanger
Dr. Javid Ahmad Ahanger reviews Khalid Bashir Ahmad’s “Kashmir: Looking Back in Time (Politics, Culture, History)” (Atlantic, 2021) situating the author’s work within a larger tradition of historiography. In the process, Dr. Ahanger evaluates Bashir’s book for the value it adds to Kashmiri scholarship during contemporary times while visiting some of the core topics and ideas that the text unveils or that had not been considered previously with the type of historical analysis it brings to fore.
In this fourth installment of the Karamat Ali Khan series of short stories, O. Kashmiri returns with a compelling fictional account of how Karamat gathered the news of killings, rapes, arrests, and disappearances in a collection of notebooks stored in his house in the Mountain Side. In an attempt to keep such horrific events from disappearing from public record and against forgetting, the old man risks his life well beyond his means and at the service of collective memory.
On World Mental Health Day, Saba Zahoor presents a series of verses that venture into the center of struggles and experiences that remain difficult to communicate yet persist in the lives of millions throughout our human world.
When Robert Hirschfield was 37 years old, his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Over the years he became her caregiver and eventually began a poetry project to honor her memory. Now at 82 years of age, the poet and journalist, world traveler and resident of New York, presents four such poems from an entire series that bear witness—through poetic remembrance—to his mother’s struggle. The four poems—that are part of a series currently in its sixth year—are featured here with New York-based contemporary artist Judith Lodge’s work.
Toiba Paul presents her review of “The Book Thief”, the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak that was also adapted into a popular film. Toiba’s review more specifically addresses the commonalities of the human experience shared between those who lived in wartime Germany with the Nazi regime in power and those who have live in Kashmir. While no direct analogy is perfect, the review focuses on individual experiences and suffering brought about by war and relates these back and forth between the world depicted in the novel and the world that surrounds people living in Kashmir. Since literature and fiction are particularly adept in communicating individual experiences of circumstances as vast as war, Paul is effective in conveying the similitude that exists between the Kashmiri experience under war with that of the characters in Zusak’s novel. In doing so, the young writer makes a compelling case for why “The Book Thief” should be read widely in Kashmir and how it can help contextualize the unaddressed experiences of those who live or have had to live under brutal violence and repression.
Ali Saffudin brings us his latest installment—three lakefront songs performed and recorded live on the shores of Srinagar’s most visited water body.
Ather Zia recites two of her ghazals in Kashmiri for a people and their land, where the idea of a “prolonged longing” has emerged, such that time is always out of joint because space has been bent and constricted. It is in such spaces and under such circumstances where the poetic verse resists despair and gives form to grief, while sustaining hope. English transliteration courtesy of the poet, with photography by Masrat Zahra.
Manan Shah revisits a heritage site that holds the answers to a significant number of questions about the presence and development of Buddhism in Kashmir’s lengthy history. As a student of archaeology and ancient history, Shah offers a core introduction to a site of great importance that was excavated in 1923. Till date, the Buddhist Monastery at Harwan remains a marker of a Kashmiri history that places the Himalayan territory as an important historic location for the convergence of multiple cultures. In its exposition, Shah’s piece also shows Kashmir’s inherent cultural sophistication through a reading of Harwan as an archaeological and historical site that provides a view into Kashmir’s past far beyond the mediatized discourses and reductive narratives that attempt to represent Kashmir within a limited scope of relevance and importance—as a mere socio-political appendage whose place in South Asian and Central Asian history remains posited on shaky ground. Perhaps inadvertently, this essential piece provides an introductory glace into a history where Kashmir is a center and not some territory within the margins set by others—and in that, a place frequently referenced by multiple visitors seeking both knowledge and answers. The piece features the author’s photography of the site that was included in the World History Encyclopedia (republished here via CC-NC-SA).
In this timely piece (featured in our opinions and perspectives section), Muzamil Jaleel poses and evaluates two essential questions: Is New Delhi’s outreach to pro-India parties a tactical step to normalise the devastating changes introduced in J&K since August 5, 2019? Has the Sangh Parivar’s Kashmir project run up against a roadblock or has it been compelled by international players to change course?
Kashmir’s resident poet Rumuz E Bekhudi presents a poem shaped by an economy of verse that packs volumes and tomes of meaning into eight small verses—communicating the silence that makes islands out of beings submerged in a state of loneliness, even amidst a togetherness buried deep in the fabric of a society engulfed in a never-ending war.
Saba Zahoor presents a poem that is close to the heart of anyone who has experienced the love, warmth and care of grandparents. These verses are a testament to that love, because more than in its presence, it is perhaps more deeply felt in an absence or in a void of some sort. More often than not, familial love is treated in simplistic terms between emission and reception that defines a relationship based on reciprocity or recognition. This poem sheds light on a shared experience and sentiment felt by a wide range of people around the world who are caregivers to elderly parents or grandparents who suffer in a particular way. Its verses tell us that we are not alone in that shared experience with the poem itself bearing testimony to that fact.
Kashmiri blackout artist Asma Firdous presents sixteen blackout poems and works of word art that she has produced over a specific time. The piece comes with an extensive introduction by Amjad Majid (titled “Blackout Poetry in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: An Editor’s Introduction”) to familiarize viewers and readers with this artform and a statement by the poet and artist herself followed by the sixteen blackout poems.
Quratulain Qureshi presents a poem that sends across a message that the poet summarizes clearly, without embellishments, and in her own words: “It is wrong and highly problematic to equate the fight of a people for their rights and dignity with that of the oppressive methods of their persecutors. Hence, this poem: an address to the advocates of such a ‘pacifism’.”