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Of Gardens and Graves
Kashmir, Poetry, Politics
By Suvir Kaul, Javed Dar
Duke University PressCopyright © 2017 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
Arjan Dev "Majboor"
darat yath kari thadi sangar karan rach
tati chi sinu' tali vopdan kuli mach
miatsa yath Siv tu' Sankar chi banavan
butu'j yos pos panas pavzi lagan
pathu'r yath rang haitu' badi chi arpan
sondar aran chu lagith candi vardan
somiats yath kero nilam chu neran
somiats yos pyth dykas kasiri chi seran
fiza yath situ' jaruk pot chavith
nivan sadan resan yus vargu'lavith
pakan yeti yu'ri travan chay Vitasta
vachas molu' vu'ni Kasire mokhtu' mala
chana that Harmokhu'c thadi payi nazra
chu lasan manz palan prath jayi dasgah
pakan yath giyanoirfanu'ki chi dariyav
Sivas milith skhu'thi turuk chu parav
vazan yeti taru' santuras rababas
chu milu'vith machtay madrer abas
qalam yath Kalhanun tarikh lekhan
Ghani yath kralu' pan hyth sar seran
vuchan khabas andar yeti Siv chu Mardan
vanan tsuri sonzal mas chi paran
so miats yath somras beran chu predan
so darti darsanas duniya chu pheran
ama tath miani darti saph kami diut
thalith vajin tu' dokh sanstap kami diut
kolan manz khuni adam kami sana vol
sondar buth maji sane kami sana zol
vanan manz vigni vanvun kot sana gav
hava dalvun tu' molu'vun kot sana gav
natsun pherun asun tay zero bam rov
gyvun siran sanun dam kham panun rov
ama hot kami chu tsotmut bolbosas
chu mothmut adu'nuk sreh prath manosas
daban pyth janu'varan kanh nu' mazan
kukil gugu karan poz kanh nu' bozan
ajib dihi chi solan asmanas
magar sari mohar kari kari dahanas
mazaran manz gabar az tandli savith
ghanimah kus yiman gomut chu marith
yaparim balu' halu'c kath ma sa kar
dazan naras andar kami halu' nadhar
ama kar beyi gatshan bedar Kasiri
balan chokh kar malan bulghar Kasiri
Arjan Dev "Majboor"
This land that high mountains protect
There, under the snows, tree sap forms
This earth which Shiva and Shankar keep making
This idol whose flowers offer themselves for worship
This soil consecrated with hundreds of colors
Beautiful rivulets adorned in silver
This soil which yields saffron and sapphire
This soil which on their foreheads Kashmiris decorate
This climate that wears a frozen-cape
Which lures away ascetics and saints
Streaming here, flowing away, the Vitasta —
The pearl necklace rich on the bosom of Kashmir
Does it not have upon it Harmukh's gaze from on high?
In this jeweled land, everywhere are nurtured dargahs
Here flow rivers of knowledge and insight
Shiva gains Shakti here: such is its beauty
Here resonate the strings of the santoor and rubab
Mixed are honey and sugar in the water
Of this Kalhana's pen writes history
Ghani uses his potter's string to finish couplets
Here Mardan sees Shiva in his dream
In forests hidden, the sonzal flower arranges her hair
This soil where nectar drips from runnels
This earth for whose darshan the world wanders
O friend, who cursed this my earth,
Tore it down, who gave us pain and sadness?
Who sheds the blood of man into flowing rivulets
The pretty face of our mother, who burns?
In forests, the songs of fairies, where have they gone
The breeze, flowing and precious, where has it gone?
Dancing, wandering, laughing, melodies are lost
Singing, sharing secrets, our comings-and-goings, are lost
My friend, who slit the throat of speech and sounds?
Every man has forgotten youthful bonds
On balconies no one attends to the birds
The cuckoo gurgles its song, but no one hears the truth
Strange smoke smoulders across the skies
But all have sealed and sealed their mouths
In graveyards today dear ones are put to sleep in piles
Which enemy has left after killing them
Of matters on this side of the mountains, don't even ask
Burning in fires, in such a state, lost birds
O friend, when will they awake again, the Kashmiris
Wounds will heal, when will they apply balm, the Kashmiris?
Ghulam Hassan "Taskeen"
Anu' dabi hundi janvaro
Bolbosas govuy kajar
Dolmut panu'ni magangi
Kholmut kami phasi chukh
* * *
Naru' lamkav nalu'mot sahras korukh
Mahlu' khanan cunu' gachsu'y du'h vuzan
Vuch golabas aru'dali hund rang gomut
Mosman kami bevajah rath lay kar
Havsan adu'vani mochi muran karu'kh
Anu' dabi hu'ndi janvaro
Zahri almasa tse khion
Poz mokhtu' rangi
Sah hynas lamu' lam
Tse yyth fizhas andar
Anu' dabi gandhay kalayas pyth kalay
Anu' dabi hu'ndi janvaro
Abu' pheryn log hisab
Khuni adam carso yas pyth chu am
Vas zan kadhakh pakhan
Kath kun kadakh
Con duniya honzu' kio raday tshotan
Con akh akh tsiuh tse kiut bari giran
Ghulam Hassan "Taskeen"
O bird of the mirror box
Your calls have become dumb.
Deluded in your whimsy —
Who hoisted you to the gallows?
* * *
Waves of flames have drawn the city into its embrace,
Smoke billows from shining grand buildings.
See, the rose's color has paled.
Who thrashes the innocent without reason?
Desires interrupted mid-way, crushed by fists.
O bird of the mirror box
You alone have to consume poison-of-diamond
The colour of true pearl.
Breathing is strained
For you in this climate
Your mirror box has been plated and layered.
O bird of the mirror box
Even drops of water were accounted for
The killing of man in the public square is common
If you were to spread your wings
In which direction will you do so?
The length and breadth of your world are shrinking
Your every moment is, for you, a great burden
Brij Nath "Betaab"
Vay pholu' na vari manz gul prani pathi
Dari pyth biuth picni bulbul prani pathi
Gamu' varyn masa aru'mi bag gov
Kanh mangan cha haku' krenjul prani pathi
Guri vanas pyth saman cha gamu' suri
Rytsh karan cha kansi 'varul' prani pathi
Kanh mangan cha az ti hamsayan gurus
Kanh anan cha gav kiuth dul prani pathi
Nosi yivan cha az ti malini pyav hyth
Kuni garan cha chan manzul prani pathi
Patji pyth chadani hokhnavan voni
Cha bytan kuni kanz tu' muhul prani pathi
Dosu' divan darith tithay kani az ti cha
Suri khyvan cha tsuri sahtul prani pathi
Vythu' bathyn pyth kanh karan cha iz rov
Kanh vasan cha navi Tulmul prani pathi
Akh akis katsah karav asi pamu'pam
Kyahsa he asi sapdina miul prani pathi
Pheri garu' Betab yeli Afaq Aziz
Sozi sech bynu' nov longun tul prani pathi
Brij Nath "Betaab"
Ah! Will not the flower bloom in the garden as in the past?
Does the bulbul perch on the window-sill to sing, as in the past?
Have our village gardens been turned into market-gardens yet?
Does no one ask for a basketful of greens, as in the past?
Do the village children still gather at the milkman's store?
Do they still invent nicknames — sparrowhawk — as in the past?
Does anyone come asking neighbours forgurus?
Does anyone bring the cow a dul, as in the past?
Does daughter-in-law still bring birth-gifts from her mother's house?
Does the carpenter craft — anywhere? — a cradle, as in the past?
Is grain still dried on plain straw-mats?
Is the mortar-and-pestle found anywhere, as in the past?
Are mud-walls felled the same way even today?
Do children eat mulberry in hiding, as in the past?
Does anyone sing and dance on the Vyeth's banks on Eid?
Does anyone boat down to Tulla-Mulla, as in the past?
How much are we going to taunt each other?
Do you think we'll never come together, as in the past?
Betaab says he will return home when Afaq Aziz
Sends word that Sister picks up a new longun, as in the past.
Ghulam Nabi Tak "Naazir"
Yinu' av vanu'nay ti ti van
Thav thav likhith bad kathan
Pakhu' phuci vavas sarirah pio
Ravmit alav tson tarfan
Tim kot gay yim asi gandan
Goni gamu'ts aisi dastaran
Lasan pyth chu nu' likhith kenh
Phiur logmut beyi tasviran
Tshayav bebi manz roch kenhtam
achithop thovmut dith gasan
Yi yot bozan gov yatskal
Vani chinu' gatsnu'y tas kanan
Log zamanan adu'mi khav
Vatanu'y chinu' kun rasman
Gab haraf gay rakhnu'y tal
Volu' von dimu' hav insanan
Vanij vanij zan dubu' phir
Achi laj majan hu'nz gobran
Teli os aki chiki nab voslan
Az ratu' sari buthi akhbaran
Vatu' chiv tohi kati kati tshandan
Az chav vatu' pryth sayi dafan
Tapu' tekyn gay kham tamah
Ku'tsnay cha vuni kanh daman
Bozav and kar vati kitab
Travya asi vuni tamhidan?
Tarakh valukh Naazir bon
Natu' kus kari grynd ratu' katran?
Ghulam Nabi Tak "Naazir"
That which could not be told, tell it now
Keep, keep writing, the value of speech
Wings broken, the wind falls helpless
In all directions, calls are lost
Where have they gone, they who used to tie
Our turbans are now crumpled
There is nothing written on corpses
The pictures are shuffled once again
Shadows have bred something in their laps
The light has blindfolded itself
All this while, this is what we have been hearing
Our ears no longer hear any bangs
The times have turned man-eating
Caught up in rituals we get nowhere
Letters have disappeared under lines
Come now, let's look for human beings
Heart after heart as if turned upside down
The evil eye — of mothers! — blights beloved sons
Then, a single drop would redden the sky
Today, newspapers are headlined in blood
Where do you go to seek for paths
Today, paths are entombed everywhere
Spots of sunshine were but false allure
Is there any hem not yet wet
We'll see when the book will end
Are we done with the preface now?
Bring down the stars, Naazir
Else who will count the drops of blood?
In the mirror of that lake,
what should I see ...?
from its depths
that stranger-like corpse
I have often
thrown a stone —
I wished to smash that mirror
ripples formed, spread, dissipated
at the furthest reaches of the silent lake
the same corpse kept staring
as if it would steal
my musings today ...!
fold the imprint of my future
into the vastness of the lake!
Why should I pick up a stone
and smash this mirror
if the corpse
is in the lake
the lake too
is in the corpse
both are locked in drops of
Visiting Kashmir, Re-learning Kashmir
I did not live in Kashmir, but it was certainly home when we visited. My father and mother grew up there, and both sets of grandparents had identical homes, built on a shared plot. So Srinagar was home to our family, even though my father worked in Bengal and we lived there. I grew up thinking of myself as Kashmiri, and if I could barely speak the language, I certainly made up for that lack by my devotion to the food. As a child, and even as I grew into adulthood and a more political understanding of personal and collective identity, I saw no contradiction between being Indian and being Kashmiri, in the same way as my friends were simultaneously Indian and Punjabi or Indian and Tamilian. Throughout the 1970s, on all our visits, nothing in Srinagar suggested a divide between the two, or at least not to me. I was aware that when my grandmother spoke of us, she said we lived in India, but I was happy to gloss that dissonance by thinking of it as the quaint result of her disappointment that both her sons had professional jobs far away from home! Both my grandfathers taught in Srinagar colleges, which meant that the city, and particularly the shopping areas, seemed populated by their students, which made walking with them a perpetual human obstacle course. They were stopped all the time as people greeted them, and then I was introduced. Their social centrality rubbed off on us visiting grandchildren: people we did not know recognized us, and we felt we belonged. (In our extended family, only two sets of cousins lived in Srinagar; the majority of us lived elsewhere in India).
As I grew older and began to learn the history of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, some of the fissures between Kashmir and India became visible. In 1947, as plans were made for the end of British rule, the British had recommended that each "princely state" accede to either Pakistan or India. The future was clear for most of the princely states — even as the rulers of these states were offered a notional choice between the new nations, there was little doubt that each princely state would be incorporated into the national landmass that surrounded it. Because Jammu and Kashmir shared boundaries with both India and Pakistan and had a majority Muslim population with sizeable Hindu and Buddhist populations, it represented a particular challenge. Leaders of both the Muslim League and the Congress had lobbied Maharaja Hari Singh to join Pakistan and India, respectively, but he delayed his decision, hoping perhaps to rule an independent kingdom, or certainly to avoid becoming a part of Pakistan. If the principles supposedly applied by Cyril Radcliffe and the Boundary Commission to the determination of the boundaries of India and Pakistan had been extended to this princely state, then either the entire state, being Muslim-majority, should have gone to Pakistan or, if the unit of division was to be the district, then Muslim-majority border districts and contiguous territories should have become Pakistani. In any case Hari Singh's rule was threatened by people's movements for democracy; the "Quit Kashmir" slogan directed against his authority by Sheikh Abdullah and the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference echoed the "Quit India" slogan directed against the British by the Indian National Congress. All this political activity became moot with the entry of Pakistani- sponsored raiders, whose brief success caused the fearful maharaja to accede to India as the price for Indian troops entering the fray. Fifteen months later, after India and Pakistan fought their first war, Jammu and Kashmir ended up messily divided: the valley of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh came under Indian control; territories west and north of them, including Gilgit and Baltistan, were under Pakistani domination. In response to the unusual circumstances by which it acquired this territory, India sought to guarantee a special status for Jammu and Kashmir via Article 370 of the Constitution, which allowed for substantial forms of autonomy. Further, in a gesture designed for international consumption, India promised a plebiscite that would, when the time was right, determine the state's future.
For thirty years and more, elections in Indian Kashmir were manipulated by New Delhi and its local collaborators; politicians deemed pro-Pakistani were unelectable. But those lines were uncertain; after all, when in 1953 Sheikh Abdullah explored the possibilities of a more independent politics, or even when he emphasized the possibilities made available by Article 370, he was arrested, and was to spend twenty years in jail. Relations between the central and state governments developed along predictable lines: New Delhi's priority was the massive security apparatus that ringed the state, ostensibly to protect India from Pakistani and Chinese attack. In practice however, that apparatus — large swathes of militarized territories, entire districts where the army or the Border Security Force is law, the building of massive cantonments that restructured local agricultural and trading practices, and lines of control that isolate communities from each other — was turned against Kashmiris even more than it addressed developments across borders. All else became secondary, and as Indo-Pakistani (and Indo-Chinese) relations degenerated into repeated wars, whatever little constitutionally feasible political autonomy was imagined for and by Kashmiris became a threat to the absolute authority of an increasingly militarized state.
Excerpted from Of Gardens and Graves by Suvir Kaul, Javed Dar. Copyright © 2017 Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsIllustrations ix
Arjan Dev "Majboor" 14
Ghulam Hassan "Taskeen" 20
Brij Nath "Betaab" 24
Ghulam Nabi Tak "Naazir" 28
Shabir "Azar" 33
Essay 1. Visiting Kashmir, Re-learning Kashmir 39
"Shahzadah" Rafiq 64
Bashir "Dada" 66
Naji Munawar 70
Rukhsana Jabeen 72
Arshad Mushtaq 74
Ayesha "Mastoor" 78
Maqbool "Sajid" 82
Essay 3. "My Paradise in Burnin' . . . " 87
Moti Lal "Saqi" 108
Mohiuddin "Massarat" 112
Mir Ghulam Nabi "Shaheen" 116
Jawahir Lal "Saroor" 120
Pyare "Hatash" 122
Ghulam Nabi "Khayal" 124
"Shahzada" Rafiq 126
Essay 3. The Witness of Poetry 129
Rashid "Kanispuri" 158
Pyare "Hatash" 160
Jawahir Lal "Saroor" 162
Fayaz Talgami 164
Bashir "Zair" 166
Ghulam Hassan "Ghamgeen" 168
Kashi Nath "Baghwan" 172
Essay 4. Indian Empire (and the Case of Kashmir) 177
Zahid Mukhtar 204
Som Nath Bhat "Veer" 208
Coda. A Time without Soldiers 213
What People are Saying About This
"Of Gardens and Graves offers a new and necessary approach to political violence. Combining lucid historical, political, and literary analysis with stunning photographs by Javed Dar and a bilingual archive of Kashmiri poetry, Suvir Kaul’s book reveals how collective trauma permeates social life—but also how artists and writers have responded creatively to catastrophe. Intensely focused on the conflict in Kashmir, Kaul nevertheless opens up questions of global concern."
"The combination of Suvir Kaul's essays, Kashmiri poetry, and Javed Dar's images leaves one breathless and amazed at the treasures to be found and sorrowful and outraged at the experiences to be witnessed here. Of Gardens and Graves is a completely affective geopolitical history delivered to us with authority and love."
"Reading Of Gardens and Graves is a treat beyond description. I have visited Kashmir several times during the period this book covers, and while reading it I felt magically transported into the invisible heart and soul of a world where much of what Suvir Kaul described had been only vaguely visible to me before. The work he has done here is brave and powerful."