THE CHINAR OF EIDGAH PINJURA

  • UHAMMAD SHAFI KHAN
  • Publish Date: Jul 16 2018 10:28PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Jul 16 2018 10:28PM
THE CHINAR OF EIDGAH PINJURA

This eye-catching old chinar

of Eid prayer ground 

of Pinjura,

aloft on ground high wearing the summer green

eying Pir's high old mountains from the very time

Kashmir's rendezvous with her turbulent history – 

trampled, trodden, bloodied – thus began.

 

This grand old Chinar

eyewitness to many turns of eventful upheavals

treachery overtaking them all to render all uneventful.

 

Companion of my childhood

fill my memory card again

with that eventful entry of the Mughal king, Akbar the Great

across Peer ki Gali four hundred years ago

to subjugate Kashmir.

 

From your high pedastal you remain

the living page of history to memorialise

the marching Mughal legions 

camping in the meadows of Pir Panchal.

 

The offshoot of that first treachery 

the broken promise 

history has recorded.

 

Songs of Habba Khatun, our queen, 

revive in our memory loss of our free Kashmir

'and since then Kashmir has never been free' 1 

 

Centuries after that borehole

in the Pir's mountain wall

saw soldiers from the plains enter Kashmir

downtrodden Kashmiris rose up yet again

 

That was when Mehjoor, the poet of Kashmir,

sang of somebody to have changed the destiny of Kashmir

 

There and then, when Kashmiris were going to be

the master of their own fate

coming from afar treachery also stepped in

to render the turning tide uneventful

rather pushing us deep down

into the abyss

of nothingness and uncertainty. 

 

Do we exist or not

is the only question now.

 

Ever since that Walaid journey

waylaid by highwaymen we knew nothing about

we began

this Chinar.

 

The village's historian

continually with a watchful eye

goes on to see us suffer and die.

 

We suffer, we bleed, we die.

but lo!

still upholding the same old cause

we espoused in the begining 

what else than life free

without fear under the sun.

 

'Where the head is held high and the mind free'2 

your majesty, our camaraderie

in our long, beset journey

you must have seen us in our glory

with spectre and crown on our heads.

 

Tell us of that time when we were free

how did we look, live, enjoy poetry?

 

Be then a prophesier to tell us when

O! when shall we be our former self again?

 

 

'You wayward crusader

you failed to catch time by forelock

at the defining moment

when the nations of the East

were breaking the chains put on them

by the West’s imperium

For that criminal betrayal or whatever

now wait and wait long till the old gypsy man

comes your way again,' bespoke

the chinar to me in silent language.

 

God intervenes in history once in a thousand years3 

History knew this lofty Chinar is preserver of

history of broken times hard and bitter,

of tear and blood, of congregations

of lamentation and sorrow.

 

There is another signet folks of my village

have put on thee

thou majestic Chinar

It is under thine long and leafy branches

that they, the pure and true folk of my village,

now bid farewell to their martyrs.

 

Chinar of Eidgah, you now are

a mourner among the multitude of mourners

You are a mighty longer-lasting participant

in the funeral prayers of our slain youth

slain just in a killing spree of vendetta,

by the jackboot enjoying impunity under AFSPA.

 

Friendly Chinar

unforgetable how you held

teenage Umer's bullet-torn body

under your large canopy

and around those thousands of mourners

men, women, young and old bewailing

the martyrdom of Umer

skyrocketing the cries of their cherished dreams.

 

Dream we must, dear friend

to be of worth and value

to make ourselves count

in the reckoning of free and fearless

human beings

no longer humiliated, outraged

and taken for granted.

Each night we put Kashmir in our dreams.

 

Hard to think schoolboy Umer, three in number

in the killing spree to youthful Suhail and Ishfaque

within a span of days.

Forget not Khanday Rashid in the bloody annals of our history.

 

This morning, after that shooting to mutilated death

of ten humans in South Kashmir's

little known village of 'doomed address'

a beggar woman dropped in my house

from a neighbouring village

'Where shall I  go a begging in this flood of blood-letting

the rite of fourth of a Shaheed not yet come

the news of two more shot dead is carried

by the wave of bloody time all around.

All around there is shutdown of terrible silence

difficult to go a begging when nothing moves

but I have to – I am ill, I need money to buy medicine,’ 

she says in overriding pain.

 

Kashmir is bleeding.

Bled by dirty politics for power and pelf

without mercy.

History of deceit, reminiscences

of treacheries of those who claimed to change 

history of us les miserables

into a history of promise.

 

Pinjura-born poet Shoorida Kashmiri lamented

‘Hum un manzilun se guzrein hain ya rab

jahan apne hi humsafar loottai hain.’

‘We have passed through so many such stations, O! God

where our own fellow travellers have robbed us’

This robbery goes on with us unabated.

Save us God. Save us merciful Allah!

 

 

Postscript: 

‘Shall we meet again, you old Chinar

and this old man

by the gates of the villa of peace

our hands blossimg into fists

till the soldiers return the keys

and disappear.

 

1. Agha Shahid Ali (slightly altered)

2. Rabindranath Tagore

3. Ibn Khaldun