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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Dried Offerings

A middle-aged woman keeps eyeing
the bougainvillaea in my lawn
as she passes along the walkway
on her way to the temple,
every day.

She lingers for a moment, one day,
her eyes alight at the exuberance
and she attempts to pick some flowers
but fails to reach the wall
from where they overhang in gay abandon.
She pauses, peeps and opens the gate,
furtively advances towards the luxuriant bush
and plucks them tenderly, one by one.

She is hardly done
when she catches me spying
from inside the house.
She falters, her colour fades,
the flowers fall from her hand
and blow with the morning breeze.

I come out of the house
and smile a nod of assurance
as she fumbles for words,
‘All my life I offered flowers,
fresh, fragrant and brimful,
but now exiled and pauperised
I tried to steal them like a thief
to please my angry God.
How can he ever forgive me
this transgression, this sin?’
‘Like you, I am an exile,
a tenant in this house,
and these flowers a gift of god,
as much mine as yours.
Take as many as you please,
God cannot get angry
with his own devotee
who has not lost faith in him
even in such adversity.’

She quickly gathers
the flowers scattered on the ground
and fumbles in her apron pouch
for a small bundle
which she tenderly unties
for me to see.
‘This is all I carried with me
when in a fearful hurry
we were forced to flee.
I offer with all humility
this humble token
of whatever worth it may be.
Take it, it will please me.’

I gather in my hands
her touching gift of love-
dried rose petals, greyish white,
picked nearly a year before
that one could hardly tell
but for the sweet tinge of nostalgia
and devotion so strong
that perchance may please my lord
as I adorn him with this prized offering.

Jammu - 16 April 1991



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