• Poems for Kashmir

    Ankita Anand

    bird and fruits 1-7-29Bird and fruits, 12th c. / Khanhhoathuynga

     

    1.

    Cartographers

    Such a pretty map we have
    Some want to change that
    Irritants.
    But it's ok, it's all under control now
    We have foiled the attempts at redrawing
    Some collateral happened.
    They get really dark lead from somewhere, bonded too
    2B or not, who knows?
    The pencil marks have to be rubbed off hard
    Here and there, the paper tore a bit.
    But it's ok, it's all under control now.

     

     

    alchetron ma yuan   2.

       No bargaining please

       At Dilli Haat
       I know it's no use bargaining at the Kashmir stall;
       They have their prices fixed.
       What a thing it is to feel so sure
       About what you deserve,
       About what you want,
       And what you surely don't—
       What an inconvenience
       For others.

     

     

    3.

    Discontinued

    There is a due process to someone's leaving.
    There is a farewell,
    An expectation of return,
    Or a recognition of the finality of going.
    Even in a farce, you see,
    Or any kind of act, for that matter,
    Exits for characters are marked as clearly
    As their entry.
    But when they are lifted out of scenes by aerialists,
    Transported through false ceilings
    And kept behind cage doors noone knows about,
    The act, the actors and the audience are frozen
    In perpetuity.

     

     

     

     

    ma yuan study of waterMa Yuan, Water study, 12th c. / Pinterest

     

    fu baoshi electric power linesFu Baoshi, 'Electric Power Lines', 1954 / Asian Artists

     

    christies 102480332_oZhang Daqian, 'The Three Peaks of Mount Hua', detail, 20th c. / Christie's

     

     

    4.

    Vicarious

    I smear my lips with red chilli pepper,
    Salivate between my short breaths.
    Biting down hard, the searing taste reassures me
    Of iron within my dream of hot pursuit.

    I wake up in a sweat,
    Pour my head into a bucket of water.
    Clamp down my nose and mouth
    Counting one, two, three . . .

    I stand upon my head,
    Feel the welts on my soles.
    Weals course through my brain and erupt;
    A crown of thorns pierces my temples.

    My thighs give way under the weight of bullets,
    My first realization of how many layers pain can exist in.

    But numbing as it is to try to live in your body,
    To live what it lived, lives . . .
    I wonder whether I have it in me
    To some day see your body as only yours
    And mine as mine alone.

    But I don't want that,
    I don't want to be left alone.

    It's pathetic, I know, these imaginings;
    A sick mind makes the real absurd.
    But it scares me no end
    To imagine that other numbness, the unfeeling dumbness . . .

    How can I not follow you,
    How can we not be in this
    Together?

     

    ink orchid 1-7-45

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    5.

    El Desperados
    How desperate we are to laugh—
    To chime with a can of laughter—
    Exhaling nervous relief,
    Reassured that it wasn't a can of worms.

    A concert is over.
    See you at the next one.

    In the meantime
    We shall continue to create and assimilate
    The sweetest music ever—
    Silence.


    A comment on the Zubin Mehta concert in Kashmir in particular and, in general, on the fragile camouflage we put over our simultaneous guilt and apathy in the face of  suffering around us.

     

     

    tale of a strange marriage konkai joshiUkita Ikkei, 'Tale of a strange marriage', 19th c. / Metropolitan Museum


    Image 2: Ma Yuan, detail / Alchetron.
    Image 3: Anonymous, 'Five Quail', 13th c. / Ferrebeekeeper.
    Image 4: Zhao Mengjian, 'Chinese ink orchid', 12th c. / Khanhhoathuynga.

    Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.