“Country” and “Colonialism”: ethnographic poetry from Kashmir
11 January 2020
These poems are set in the context of Kashmir which is a disputed territory occupied by India. The author-poet demonstrates through his ethnographic poetry how normal life looks under the gaze of settler colonial occupation through which the indigenous people are rendered homeless and their identity reduced to the rubble of coloniality. The metaphors in the poems take a reader through the cities of colonialism, occupation and indigeneity.
I’m a Country without a Nation,
a flag without colours,
and people waiting for a ship
that’s fading away in the mist of hopelessness.
I’m a home messed up with
of encounters, filled with blood clots between the bricks;
blood-soaked clothes of martyrs hanging around the burned
walls of a house;
small pieces of gun laid on the floor just like
a corpse floating across the endless river; and
grey hair of Mother scattered in a suffocated room
Since last summer I have been living like
an Eid without the sighting
of crescent caged in the colonialism,
of brutality that sunk its complexion
beneath the dark clouds.
An evening of separation without sunset drowned
in the nostalgia of bloodshed and betrayal.
A citizen leaving life in exile,
in longing for the passport that would
travel me across the city of Freedom.
I’m mourning the death of a corpse that
is without a Coffin, and a shroud.
For decades I’m living a life of suffering between the
eternities of ink bled through a broken nib.
As I walked through wrinkled pages of history
I have transformed myself into the city of poetry
And through the snowflakes of winter I metamorphosed
Myself into poem!
Every metaphor I bleed,
it demeans your existence.
Till the Jehlum would flow with blood,
my stanzas and I would celebrate the joy of freedom.
Last night I became a grave digger
and acted like river of freedom flowing
through the graveyards as it floats over the
Tombstones and intersects with verses of quran.
I’m a sleepless night,
drenched in sweat as I’m waiting
for the dawn that would carry my
Unfinished letters to a half mother
Who is Longing to see her son
Between the goodbyes!
I’m a memory engraved within the ink of graffiti
that’s fading away in the smoke of bullets.
I’m a message of Love,
waiting inside the typing box
To be delivered to a country
without a mobile phone.
like the scent of dead bodies,
flies dancing on the blood clots,
blood-soaked clothes drenched in sweat and
eating the skull of body horrendously.
an empty town into a ghost garrison
covered by long Jack boots,
Occupies spaces with the loud howl of rifle
shrinking the balloons of lungs
with Pepar gas, tear gas shells and electric shocks.
People with blue dots, skulls dangling on orchards,
Some living within the graveyards,
some pasted on the walls.
The lanes are, but a river of memories
that carry blood, bones, flesh and departure of a country.
The lanes carry the scent of camphor,
a farewell to a coffin and
trousers filled with stains of gun powder,
the floaters of stone pelters
scattered on roads;
within dark nights.
A house Looks scary it has
burnt wooden panes,
smelling like burnt rubber,
slowly turning into ashes;
spices, utensils, burned carpets,
a heap of blankets!
All in one row.
Ruhail Andrabi is currently a Junior Research Fellow based in New Delhi. His writings have appeared in Harper Collins India, Blue Lotus magazine, cafe dissensus, Caravan, and Frontier Post. His research focuses on the relationship between resistance and space in colonial and postcolonial societies with a specific focus on identity, citizenship and gender.