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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Camp School

In the wild outskirts of the city,
on a barren piece of land at Muthi,
five tattered tents each twelve feet by twenty,
flapping in the wind, holding tenuously,
make our school for a hundred and thirty.

The only furniture or upholstery
is a bare blackboard, solitary,
rough and ridged and rickety,
that refuses to be writ upon
with any chalk, coloured or white,
hard, soft or powdery.

The ‘migrant’ teachers try their best
with words, gestures and pantomime
but often leave the class in disgust
as the wind blows hot, the sun peeps through
or the rains seep in to flood the school
and the skin smarts and burns with the ‘loo’.

But that doesn’t dampen our spirits
in this veritable laboratory
where the briar and bush is our botany,
the insects and worms our zoology,
the sand and stones our geology,
the elements our physics and chemistry,
mother nature our library
and we ourselves the history.
Ours is not just a camp school,
but a mini open university.

Jammu - 15 August 1991



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