I

Today,
while they show you the colour of Jhelum
—bathed in red
do not let them forget
The Lidder’s water—
splashed with blood in ‘89
Turning lives to stone
Peeling the skin of kith and kin
reminding them—you never were our own
The foundation of the dry blood
coating the streets of Srinagar
remains of Lassa Kaul.
Of the bricks made of the fluid red,
that scream. Lest we forget—
The slogan for Azadi was built, not in a day,
It was carved in the 1990
With a nurse’s bones,
shredded to pieces
with a chain saw.
It was cemented
with a poet’s corpse
Sarwanand Kaul ‘Premi’ or Abdul Sattar Ranjoor
Who can recall?

 

 

II

Home?
A dilapidated structure
that haunts the neighbourhood.
The trees remember the bodies hung on them.
The streets always covered
in the mesh of red.
It is not some Pandit’s blood today.
Of his perpetrator?
Don’t think so.

A ghost whispered an illness into somebody’s ear.
It blinded everyone in 1988
The ghost died yesterday
The blind men worship him, still.

Today
at Lal Chowk
they will recall the ghost of Azadi,
the one who handed them the Kalashnikovs
and maps
to burn the houses
of everyone they knew.

The fire that was started
demanded a body everyday
It turned into a dragon, this Azadi,
The village couldn’t sleep until it was fed.
It lies in the north
claiming the young and the old
Those who remain
believe
only the ghost will be their salvation.
Little do they know
The ghost has an appetite of its own.

 

Niyati Bhat

Niyati Bhat

Niyati Bhat is a Kashmiri writer and photographer, currently contemplating on ways to use her post-graduate degree in Arts and Aesthetics from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She writes on literature, cinema, cities and exile. Her work has appeared in Mithila Review, Emergence Magazine (Vol.5), Hindustan Times, Al Jazeera and The ILF Samanvay Blog.

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