Poetry | For the Dark Times | Hamraaz

Security Personnel man the streets of Srinagar, Kashmir during the Lockdown,  via Dawn 

Changing the rules without consent: the true aim of development?
Political gain or property grab, in the name of development?

Lock up the kids before they hurl stones in protest or anger.
Preventive detention: just a move in this game of development?

Jail the leaders, shutter the press: speech and sight are dangerous—
lead pellets rip through retinas and fan flames of ‘development’.

Markets are closed and, friends, I’ve heard, freedom is now an outlawed word;
do dreams deferred wilt or explode in the shame of development?

Healing old wounds takes time and care; tear gas obscures the things we share—
brothers and sisters, please beware of false claims of development.

You say, Hamraaz, you’re so naive; it’s more complex than you perceive!
But we won’t right wrongs by hanging them in warped frames of development.

On the Day of the Verdict
-November 9, 2019

My barber closes the door and says,
He has everything in his hands now:  

the parliament, army, and courts; 
his wish is our command, now.

In the Beginning 

I kept hearing people say 
the same words over and over

wherever I went— 
sometimes in greeting

or farewell,
sometimes in prayer— 

the neighbor downstairs,
the electrician in the market,

the man who cleans 
the toilet in the park.

The more it happened,
the more anxious I felt.

When I mentioned it to the chemist,
he lowered his voice and said,

Yes, it’s no longer just
a greeting or a prayer,

it’s become a celebration— 
and a challenge. 

Hard Fruit

This morning, when I told you 
that I’d dreamt 

the theocracy had been declared—  
and the internet was down

and it was no longer safe 
to say ‘freedom’

in a song or slogan,
or even on the phone— 

you just nodded 
and said  you’d woken, 

sweating and shaking, 
after dreaming of breaking 

all your front teeth on a hard,
red apple from Kashmir.

It’s Important to Note She’s a Muslim, Hamraaz

The police are investigating 
an AMU professor 

for a Facebook post 
about separation, sadness, 

a failed moonshot,
and a cold northern region

which I shall refrain 
from naming.

Late in the night, 
smoke presses down 

on the city, 
and the Chowkidar’s

tap and whistle 
disrupts my dreams again.

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