A Passport Of The Country Without A Post Office

The genocide in Kashmir is not over yet, but the land fertilized by the blood of innumerable, amaranthine martyrs is blossoming bouquets of tulips and roses in quick succession. New possibilities of spring, of poetry, of Azadi, of freedom, of peace are here, and they are unstanchable. I wish you were here, Shahid: Beloved, Witness, and perhaps with the slip of tongue, even Shahd, or Honey.

by Huma Dar

Passport to The Country Without A Post Office
Passport to The Country Without A Post Office

I met Shahid between noon and one pm, in the Lipman Room of Barrows Hall, almost exactly thirteen years ago, on December 3, 1998.  He’d come to recite from The Country Without A Post Office (1997) for the Lunch Poems Reading Series at UC Berkeley.  His jokes, tinged with a very particular Kashmiri black humor — irreverent, risqué, ridiculous — mirrored my family’s wacky one.  All that heartache about Kashmir, finding not many kindred souls around, found solace in Shahid’s scriptured lament, “After the August Wedding in Lahore, Pakistan.”

A brigadier says, The boys of Kashmir
break so quickly, we make their bodies sing,
on the rack, till no song is left to sing.
“Butterflies pause / On their passage Cashmere –”
And happiness: must it only bring pain?
The century is ending.  It is pain
from which love departs into all new pain:
Freedom’s terrible thirst, flooding Kashmir,
is bringing love to its tormented glass.
Stranger, who will inherit the last night
of the past?  Of what shall I not sing, and sing?

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