In the dark

Insha Malik, 14, on July 14 in Srinagar / AFP via Hindustan Times


(For the maimed and blinded children of Kashmir)


The sun was falling into the lake

like the red leaf of a chinar tree.

She walked, head bent,

holding her grandpa’s arms,

jingling her bangles to tickle her doll

and calming the breeze

that carried the chill of corpses.


The whiteness of the horse

she had seen that morning

was blossoming in her memory

like a huge white rose.

Four crows were exchanging bad news

seated on the roof of a shikara.

A group of women in black veils

moved like a dark cloud,

carrying a dead folksong.

Lotuses grew pale and shrank

having lent all their hue

to the evening sky.


Three trees called out to her

like a warning:  ‘Nazeeeem!’

She had not noticed death

walking among the pedestrians

as it did not wear a body

nor leave a shade.


Suddenly she heard a voice

like thunder followed by rain.

Someone was driving nails

into every part of her tiny body:

She did not know

they were the nation’s fangs.

She screamed and looked up.

Her grandpa had vanished.

Everything had vanished.

It was dark everywhere.


That was how our dream

became a blind little girl

in bleeding clothes

and our future turned  into

a cold  endless night.



Translated from Malayalam by the poet.  Also see Ankita Anand’s ‘Poems for Kashmir‘, Gautam Navlakha’s ‘Kashmir: Cry, my Beloved Country‘, and statements from artists and academics, and the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association.

Cover image: Wondermondo.