• In the Dark

    July 19, 2016

    K. Satchidanandan

    Insha Malik, 14, on July 14 in Srinagar / AFP via Hindustan Times


    (For the maimed and blinded children of Kashmir)


    The sun was falling into the lake

    like the red leaf of a chinar tree.

    She walked, head bent,

    holding her grandpa’s arms,

    jingling her bangles to tickle her doll

    and calming the breeze

    that carried the chill of corpses.


    The whiteness of the horse

    she had seen that morning

    was blossoming in her memory

    like a huge white rose.

    Four crows were exchanging bad news

    seated on the roof of a shikara.

    A group of women in black veils

    moved like a dark cloud,

    carrying a dead folksong.

    Lotuses grew pale and shrank

    having lent all their hue

    to the evening sky.


    Three trees called out to her

    like a warning:  ‘Nazeeeem!’

    She had not noticed death

    walking among the pedestrians

    as it did not wear a body

    nor leave a shade.


    Suddenly she heard a voice

    like thunder followed by rain.

    Someone was driving nails

    into every part of her tiny body:

    She did not know

    they were the nation’s fangs.

    She screamed and looked up.

    Her grandpa had vanished.

    Everything had vanished.

    It was dark everywhere.


    That was how our dream

    became a blind little girl

    in bleeding clothes

    and our future turned  into

    a cold  endless night.



    Translated from Malayalam by the poet.  Also see Ankita Anand's 'Poems for Kashmir', Gautam Navlakha's 'Kashmir: Cry, my Beloved Country', and statements from artists and academics, and the Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association.

    Cover image: Wondermondo.

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