A poetic tribute to torture victims by Kashmiri poet Ather Zia

A poetic tribute to torture victims by Kashmiri poet Ather Zia:

Artist Statement
As a people living under an occupation which is camouflaged within a patina of democratic set-up & draconian laws, there is a constant erasure of our bodies, memories & identities. We are inflicted with active forgetting in order to survive. At the border where the direct gaze of prose is constricted with barbed wires of multiple coercions, poetry spurts forth. Poetry makes one a witness, rather than just an archivist. One’s life-blood, all that is political & emotional; lived, remaining, & forgotten coagulates into a poem.

Abode of the God?

This poem is for those who were tortured to death & those who survived one of the known & notorious interrogation centers in Kashmir called Hari Niwas (Abode of God). Hari Niwas was a royal palace before it was turned into an interrogation center in the late 80’s & 90’s.

a phantasm above,

I am the bones under this earth

where you plan to plant

tulips, daffodils (so dear to my soil)

trying to cover

wide-mouthed pits,

filled with

shoes, limbs, amulets for protection

unblinking eyes,

a first love’s charm bracelet

husbands, sons,



your rooms are clinging to their walls –

the abode of God, looks less so –

no diviner dare carry a broom

to erase my trace,

in this dank darkness, tinged red

I am not yet done etching tremulous lines on walls

I am not done memorizing faces that are gone,

I am not done counting and keeping time which passed,

there are still dead – dying in certain rooms

(Reposted from March 30th, 2016)