Don’t tell me Papa Kishtwari looked ferocious,
And his eyes had all the fire of terror;
That his hairs were dyed dark ginger
And he walked with intimidating airs.
Tell me about that January night in 1996,
Which was the Night of Salvation,
When his armed pack of savage men,
After having slayed a man at the door of a mosque,
Dragged a saffron trader from his home and tied
Him to an almond tree in his own courtyard.
And set his house on fire, his elderly mother still inside.
In her trembling pleas to Papa Kishtwari,
What did Samad’s wife tell him?
Did she faint terror-stricken
And sank to the January’s cold ground?
Or did she run to save
Her husband’s elderly mother,
Who was trapped
Inside the slowly burning house?
Tell me what she did when Papa Kishtwari shot
Samad Dar in front of his sons and daughters?
And rendered her a (yet another) widow of the dirty war?
Did her eyes freeze in the womb of that darkest night
And made her a piece of cold stone?
Did she feel the burning steel rip her heart?
And she was blown in the whirlwind of death?
Or, she untied her husband’s blood-soaked body
Off the almond tree which they had planted years ago?
Note: The poem is based on a true incident.
Bio: Muhammad Tahir is a PhD student of Politics and International Relations at Dublin City University (Ireland). Tahir’s articles have appeared in The Japan Times, Caravan, The Express Tribune, Kindle Magazine, Cafe Dissensus, IAPS Dialogue, and in different newspapers and magazines in Kashmir