sitting beside the old chinar
I search for the voices. The thumping
boots have shot the Bulbul I am told
by a seven year old
whose pheran is still warm.
You must visits us, he insists
seventeen odd people in a shallow dig
marked by a stone, that’s my home.
Uncle Ganie likes blue eyed people
and he knows Abu will find
us all. He promised to come
and see me play after asr prayer;
cricket matches are long at times!
I ask him about the stone.
Not the shale one near the stream
Arshad lives there, not us,
of the size of my fist,
haven’t you seen it before?
A thousand of them, I have.
All in a hurry, silence prevails,
I must go.
The curfew starts at six.
Who knows I would be shot again,
Words fly by me
like a super train on its magnetic track,
like an aircraft piercing the dead sky,
like a Shikara wading through fumigated Dal.
Nausea stirs their meaning, their form,
like fumes of an exothermic reaction,
like monsoon clouds on Himalayas,
like faces of dead in a fake encounter.
Do they fear abandonment
like the wish of every child to grow old,
like Sohni clinging on to molded clay,
like Dhoks of the detained shepherds?
English Translation by Agha Shahid Ali
It is spring, And the ledger is opened again.
From the abyss where they were frozen,
those days suddenly return, those days
that passed away from your lips, that died
with all our kisses, unaccounted.
The roses return: they are your fragrance;
they are the blood of your lovers.
Sorrow returns. I go through my pain
and the agony of friends still lost in the memory
of moon-silver arms, the caresses of vanished women.
I go through page after page. There are no answers,
and spring has come once again asking
the same questions, reopening account after account.
Lost songs of monsoon rains
echo with forgotten drumbeats.
I look for you,
in the voids,
between the beats.
The seas rolled themselves up
and now hide in memories,
vanishing like time;
yet seeping into the voids, like time.
How was it before?
Oh, not the drumbeats
but the void and memories
and the songs too.
Write about it on a paper
and roll it, into a jar,
and throw the jar onto the seas.
Let the seas remember
the first songs and the monsoon,
let the waves rumble with drumbeats,
like memories, and fill all the voids.