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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Journey Into the Land of the Exiled

Here I am now
on this last reluctant stage
of my journey of love.
For long have I stayed
away from here,
as destruction raged,
dealt deathly blows
to community and pride.
Dignity and trust
suffered a thousand cuts.
Disgust and distaste filled us;
fear and vacillation
held complete sway.

Has the primeval beast
of ignorance and folly
paused in its rampage?
Will desecration cease?
As I arrive with hope,
and with your beckoning
what will I see around me here?
I ponder this awhile
as I wait for you now.

Vainly I look
for faces, shapes and spaces,
anything that will unlock
joys of yesteryears
or just the memories.
Humble dwellings which
light with the laughter
of children’s games;
sounds and songs of Spring;
chinars’ summer shelter,
Autumn’s colours;
the crunching of leaves;
winter welcomed
with snow fights and snowmen,
as kahva and kangris keep us warm.
But there is only a silence
vast and widespread,
profound sadness permeates all
as I wait for you now.

I see no folk around,
neighbours nor kinsmen,
traders nor artisans.
Gone are the narrow winding lanes
where children loved to play truant;
silent are the playing fields
where sprains were sustained
in contests and matches
from ‘kabaddi’ to cricket.

What is this sterile stillness
surrounding these damaged dwellings?
Weeds overtaking this vast wilderness.
The city is fractured and ‘free’
as I wait for you now.

I wait for you now
amidst these ruins
of a once beautiful land,
hallowed over centuries,
graced by saints and Sufis.
Where can I find them
to solicit and seek
their blessings again?

Am I too late?
Or, with all landmarks gone,
have I lost my way?
Have I come to a different land?
Who will come and find me
before it is too late?
I can’t stand this silence;
this moonscape frightens me.
To keep despair at bay
I remember meanwhile
those recent stages
of this graduated journey.
Brief, loveable sojourns,
in other cities
amongst the young and the old.
In houses and bazaars
I tasted once more
the joys of welcome,
and loving farewell,
listened to stories of struggles,
of survival in sorrow,
deprivation and desolation,
the meetings with the ‘migrants,’
exiles in their own land,
charming characters,
sharing freely forever
their lives and their loves.
Their smiling faces sustain me
as I wait for you now.

Australia - January, 1996



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Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. (KOA) is a 501c(3) non-profit, tax-exempt socio-cultural organization registered in Maryland, USA. Its purpose is to protect, preserve, and promote Kashmiri ethnic and socio-cultural heritage, to promote and celebrate festivals, and to provide financial assistance to the needy and deserving.

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