Poem: Exile

Painting: Marwan Sahmarani

By Seema Bashir


The children of the insignificant mountains,
Map unknown terrains in the mighty plains.
In distant plains, homeless vagrants.
Treachery! Dear home!
To have left, to have lived.
To have left to live, and die (incessantly)
Homeland beckons a homecoming,
To the mountain that will be,
Our only home!
We bring our severed heads in our laps
(from the homelands of the future past);
We carry them to sell them, in exile.


The three charred bodies stared back at me,
As I tried in vain,
To find my first born (in their blinding blackness)
He had the face of the moon, I heard his mother mumble,
Over the deafening screams of the silent bystanders.
By that evening, I had buried three of my sons (only one had died),
My wife sleeps next to the relics (the memories of her son,
Or, someone else’s, who died that day)
These are the family heirlooms now,
Encased in limpid crystal vials.
The soil of the martyrs’ grave,
The moon dust of the revolution.


Yellow pages of old books,
Abridged versions too,
Stand witness to the massacre
Of a hibiscus, flattened against their bodies.
Unnamed martyr, in a hackneyed war,
The chorus of its swan song:
‘Why must I die, for love to live’!


I remember that bright April day,
When they set the sun on fire.
When a worm crawled in,
Through a crevice in the fabric of time.
And latched itself onto my soul.
I remember tasting my tears.
Bitter and salty,
Like the pink tea, that burnt my throat,
The next morning.
I remember digging my nails into the flesh
Of memory, hoping, it would rip,
The veins of remembrance.
Yet, I remember…


Sooty walls, deserting the beams,
Meet each other, in the middle of the room.
In their embrace, they bury our home,
And raise a towering grave,
Of latticed windows and singed yarn.
Of old pots and new pans.
My house turns to dust
(in the aftermath of a stubborn war).
Crumbling down, like a pack of cards
In the hands of a careless enemy.

Seema Bashir is a doctoral fellow at the Department of English, University of Kashmir. Her areas of interest include Cyberpunk literature, Comparative Philosophy and Conflict/Resistance literature.


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