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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



The Kindling

If proof were needed
didnít this sixth exodus
in six centuries
clinch it
that intolerance will stay
and I will have to find my way
and settle away
from my homeland. 

Yes, I am fatigued six times over
and desire nothing better
than to be left in peace here
in my temporary shelter.

Yet the answer to that riddle
kept evading me all these years
as to why my ancestors
returned to the valley
each time they were driven out
till this wizened old man
out from there
came to seek me the other day.
He held my hands
in his feeble yet warm grip
as he sat on the couch
and, before I could proceed,
thrust a gift in my hands
of roasted wheat flour
and baked paddy seeds,
and turning his palms towards the sky
invoked his Allah
to return me and mine
with dignity and honour to my homeland
where we could live together,
people of his faith
and mine,
for ever after.

Ever since,
the fragrance and flavour
of that traditional gift,
tinged with the nostalgia
of five thousand years
tingles my primordial urge
to return to my roots,
as my resolve grows every day
even with the full knowledge
that I may have to face
yet another exodus.

Jammu - 8 March 1997



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