Poem of the Indian occupation of Kashmir

Handwara solidarity protest in Srinagar (from Kashmirunheard)

This powerful poem about the Indian occupation is by Kashmiri poet, Ather Zia

In Kashmir: Writing under Occupation

they want us to write. in blood.
and only write. of peace.
they capture our land. make us sow rice that is not seed. kill us. rape. They tell us we are ungrateful. like children – who do not see what is good for them. holding us with many kinds of guns; they grimace at the world calling our blood on their faces –

they sell pens.
we buy with blood.
many of them, from their mythical land come to us, with clean hands, softened in the Ganges. they meet our eyes. that gaze, which through you goes elsewhere. behind their orange irises you see wheels turning. like the innards of a Swiss-watch. precise. surgical.

they sell paper.
so much paper. we buy with blood.
they put the kettle on boil. it whistles. the seduction of tea.
there is no better heaven. our pens poised. the next word will liberate.
an orgasmic lull prevails.
that next sentence. always in arrival. like that justice thing.
meanwhile Ashfaq is no more. Maqbool has gone. Asiya and Neelofar, raped then killed. Afzal hanged. Tufail, buried in two graves. the Ittar seller in Lal chowk disappeared. they found his bones with empty bottles; the kettle whistles.
the tea never comes.
our bones are made tired. waiting.
before the door of law from that over-used Kafka tale. the only thing that grows after this wait, are their swords. looming mightier. and this too, we write.

they exhort us to write. and write. in blood.
of peace. of tulip gardens they grew on soils made fertile with our flesh, and bones.
and write. when they, are at war with us.

Ather Zia is a political anthropologist, poet & short fiction writer. She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit.

(Photo is protest in Srinagar in solidarity with minor girl of Handwara who is still in police custody against her will)