Poetic tribute to parents of disappeared persons in Kashmir

Kashmiri mother of disappeared (Basit Zargar)

We’ve met this grieving mother before at another protest in Kashmir of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). We now know her name is Rahtee, which in U’rdu means ‘left behind’.

Of the 80,000 murdered Kashmiris, most have been men–young & old. Only a few hundred have been women or girls. There is no social security in Kashmir under Indian rule. So the death of a man can mean economic impoverishment as well as grief.

And yet she protests. And we stand in solidarity with her.

This powerful poem is by Ather Zia, a poet, fiction writer, & anthropologist who also edits the journal, Kashmir Lit. Her first book of poems is titled “The Frame.” Presently, she is a faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado teaching anthropology & gender studies.


this is pain the one that
finds loss the only place of belonging
grief is home here
home not just my own
but for those
who seek longing as a way of life
who fear grief only when it passes,
joy in this cup tangled in the barbed wires
will run over, only
when sorrow becomes explicit in staying
and grief again refuses to leave

(Photo from Facebook wall of Basit Zargar; thanks to Ashraf AliĀ for information about Rahtee)