A Lament For Kashmir


Where silver-skinned paris played with fearsome Jinns
Amongst the dense rushes on the banks of the ink-dark lake;
Where rivulets and lochs fed by immortal springs
Were inhabited by the kin of the thousand-headed snake

And devas visited down from celestial peaks
To lie down in endless meadows and plains;
To hunt golden game; To swim in crystal creeks;
To bask in the lush and radiant terrains.

Where morning’s gentle breath swayed the poplars and pines
And flowers twinkled like coloured stars strewn upon lush vales,
Whilst grazing hangul were pricked by brazen sunshine
As they lazily pawed at the verdant dales.

Where Rudra bellowed on his conch and rode o’er majestic skies,
Dragging ominous clouds along the celestial sphere, which at night,
Was a cobalt shield studded with sparkling ice,
Bearing testimony to Allah’s might.

Nothing but distilled nature pervaded that ancient separated place;
There genius flowed in babbling brooks and emerald rivers;
There birds chirped the holy songs of divine grace,
And forests and beasts hymned to the universe.

That was Kashmir – land of myth and titanic scale –
The archetype of nature; heaven on earth,
Every beautiful place in the world its reflection wavering and pale.

But no more – now fled is the blessed beauty, joy and mirth –

Now no monks walk unshod here, and no Sufis meditate by the rills;
No poets echo its absent allure, no pirs now its mysteries crack;
No otherworldly mists descend anymore, no fairy-tale like snows fall on its hills.

Now the meadows are dust spewing tracts;
The chinars and pines are dry and wracked;
The flowers have stopped twinkling, their colours faded;
The sun shines gray and cold and jaded;
The hangul have left limping, with antlers lopped;
The lakes are now rotten, turgid swamps;
The incontinent land now slips when Rudra’s drum sounds;
Alas, the apsaras and jinns are imprisoned or drowned.

Ruined now and lost evermore;
Never will return that Kashmir of yore




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