“The Art of Solitude.”

Maliha Tribhu

The art of solitude is that—
A rhythmic silence awaits the person who
has found the glory upon
Jumping over bottomless pits and stayed there
quietly absorbing the void it has to offer.

He does not panic nor is he too euphoric of it.
He endures it well, takes a sip in his coffee and
folds the remaining twenty one pages of a book he has been struggling to finish.
He dispenses the unwashed clothes from last week and takes out the trash
in the backyard—
He says ‘hello’ to the neighbors next door that he has been trying hard to avoid for the past few days.
They worry, “what an unpleasant man!”
He ignores their taunts and close the door,
close the gaps between the empty noises hovering about the room.

There’s dirty plates piling up in the sink
Flies fluttering upon the leftovers from last night
Moths quietly consuming the light
And he, absorbing the silence.

The art of solitude is not an act of grief that quietly occupy the space; that lay barren and smells of Hasnuhana that consumes the night,

Solitude is, in fact, a friend that exists palpably
without a solid reason
and manifests the longings buried or burned
uninvited.

It is not for everyone; a weight
one must not carry if he can’t hear the silence
and find rhythm in it.

 

Leave Flowers On My Prairie

Asif MH

Contains themes of death.
Reader discretion is advised.

Leave daisies on my doorstep
If you shall be passing by.
I like my love like the pouring rain
But receive it best dry..

Leave sunflowers after the mourning,
To remind me that this world
Has been cruel in its
Kindness.

And there might never be a greater perhaps,
But if my fossils can smile one day
When the light beams in,
I will leave a thought for you in the summer air,
So that it never rains
As much as it did in my distant past.

 

Sunflower

Naveed Hossain

Your light burnt holes in my leaves.
Under your scathing glare,

I looked through myself-

A wisp of yellow. 

‘Rise.’

I heard you say.
But my feeble stem cracked
under the weight of my guilt.
How could it not
when all through my life
I had been told to wilt?

‘Rise.’

Your light exposed my roots
and blinded me;
yet in your light, I saw my yellow-
Yearning to be free.

‘RISE!’

And like a sunflower, I turned.
Like a sunflower, I faced you.

And my roots grew,
and they grew,
and grew
until they touched your deepest core.

And I promised
I would never wither.

I promised I would never wither
Under the light of your sun.

 

Bardo

Alfred C. D'Silva

Everything is immersed
In circular motion
A circuitous dance of
Happenstances…

For, consider
This feather, which
Has fallen away
From a bird-

Does it not,
Now travel
Through the
Browning pages
Of a book?

Taking flight
Once again through
Different skies,
From what it once knew
Of the colour
Blue?

So it is with
Death…

The body is merely
Moving in a circle,
Round and round,
Each point
A Day…

 

Floating Dreams

Auyon (Ace) I

I am a bubble
Daring unwavering sea
Drifting curiously, cautiously
Sometimes I expand
Inhaling more than just air
Hopeful and naive
Full of love

I am a bubble
Interested in motion
Buoyancy
Enjoying the dance
While it lasts
Before the sun fades
On the vast
Misunderstood sea

I am trying to be kind
Such sad waves all around me
Day and night pass by
They do not trust me
They do not care to know me
Scorning my kindness with hate
They must be hurting
I hold space
And listen

I wish to stay a bubble
Free to breathe and love
But the walls wear thin
The air within is fleeting
Something is amiss
The water grows colder
My vision is faltering, flickering
I cannot hold the filth back
I do not know how long I can last

I am one of the waves
Endless and obscure
Opaque and formless
Harsh and blind
Dimmed lights and muffled voices
Monotonous and incomprehensible
All the same
All mundane
Floating forwards surrounded
Pressure on all sides
Empty and alone
Cold.

Jump

Joyita Faruk

The sun dances in the wake of the owl’s howls
Your dreams of nothingness come to an end.
On the precipice of trajectory-
A mother bird’s call to take flight,
You imagine yourself falling.

Scuffing your skin on the road isn’t
what ails you.
The wings eclipsing the sky are what blind;
render your legs obsolete.

How to move when your eyes are stringed to the stars?
-puppet to the constellation of everythingness.

You are not who you yearn
Yet, you never are
-an existence built for dreams
is nothing but dreams after all.

The Division of Kashmir Through Political Voices

fists raised in protest
Illustration by Saad Hasib
 

Kashmir for many used to be a piece of heaven on Earth, but now it’s one of the most volatile and militarised zones on Earth. How did this happen? And most importantly how are it’s inhabitants coping with it?

After the partition of 1947, Kashmir has been violently contested by both India and Pakistan. Because Kashmir, a princely state, had a Muslim majority but a Hindu King, there was a conundrum as to whether it should cede to Muslim majority Pakistan or secular India. During this period of ambivalence, Pakistani militia groups attacked Kashmir which forced the King Hari Singh, to ask India for help and thus cede to India. Following this, several Indo-Pak wars have been fought and treaties signed.

The latest development was the repeal of Article 370 and 35A by the Indian Government, without any deliberation with the Kashmiri representatives, that gave semi autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Anticipating violent backlash from Kashmir and Pakistan, India stationed thousands of military personnel in Kashmir and enacted the longest communication and digital lockdown in the history of civilised democracies. Thus essentially isolating Kashmir from the rest of the world indefinitely.
In January of 2020, Internet and communication access was allowed again due to the international backlash against such unconstitutional sieges.

It was during these uncertain times, that the people of Kashmir suffered the most and started their new journey to protest to the greatest of lengths too.

Politics and literature have become inseparable in ordinary Kashmiris’ lives. With many Kashmiri politicians still under house arrest, political sympathy for Independent Kashmir has gone underground. Very few, if any at all, politicians in Kashmir speak against the atrocious situation created by the Indian Government. However, this hasn’t stopped Kashmiri public and artists from speaking up.

Kashmiri artists are continually searching for and using varied methods of art to convey their plight. The plight of Kashmir. Like in politics, in arts too the Indian Government has cracked down on artists. On accounts of ‘sowing discord’ and ‘terrorism’, many artists have been banned and are under surveillance.

‘In the last 30 years, I have never seen this kind of suppression’, says Madhosh Balhami, who had his house and countless poetry books burned down in 2018 by a scuffle between the Indian military and terrorists.
He says that he mainly remains underground along with many other writers and poets who fear to be jailed under anti-terrorism laws for their resistance literary works.

Zareef, pen name, recalls ‘In terms of political or social commentary through art, the Kashmiri tradition of Bhand Pather, or folk theatre and art performed on the streets, has showcased satirical art as dissent very well’. The communication lockdown by the government, however, doesn’t allow it anymore.

Still relentless efforts continue by fearless Kashmiri artists. One of them is Syed Areej Safvi who is on the quest to revive 150 year old art of Ladishah, which is a form of indigenous poetry storytelling, to highlight the voice of women. She critiques the government through satirical performances on YouTube, in an attempt to resist in her own ways.

Another such fearless poet is Rmuz, who is writing apology poems for future generations to come. To apologise for not stopping the abrogation of Article 370 with their last breath.

Kashmiris are not only protesting through poems and stories but also with visceral artwork that manages to pierces even the most silent ones. Inder Salim turns blood splattered pellets into eye-catching jewelleries for the onlookers to wear. He can’t find a market though, as arbitrary arrests are always a fear.

Most artwork and literary ventures from Kashmir get featured in International articles and stages, and not in Kashmir. An omnipresent fear of being banned and harassed forces them to go underground, like the famed MC Kash has, a revolutionary artist

Film industries outside of Kashmir continue to make conflicting movies on Kashmir, which often misrepresent or outright lie about the Kashmiri perspective. Films like ‘Kashmir Hamara Hain’ and ‘Dhara 370 and 35A’ were released after the princely status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked. These movies did an astounding job to legitimise the Indian Government’s military crackdown and trying to paint India as ‘the good guy’. The political smell reeking from these movies gave a very explicit news to the audience: Kashmir belongs to India and this won’t change no matter what. Following the trail, several high profile Indian actors showed public support to the government while completely disregarding the inhumane conditions that were soon to ensue in Kashmir.

The message from Pakistan however, very predictably, was the exact opposite. Music videos such as ‘Ja Chor Day Meri Waadi’ and ‘Kashmir Qo Haqq Do Bharat’, produced by ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) of Pakistan, were very direct and vehement attacks on India which have garnered huge popularity among Kashmiris. Likewise, Pakistani artists and celebrities continue to offer support and sympathy for a free Kashmir in contrast to their neighbours.

These confrontations of these two Nuclear powers will continue. Be it in the media or in trade. It’s not their voice that matters but the Kashmiri voice that does matter, but often gets ignored in matters of its own concern.
‘Soz: A ballad of maladies’ by Tushar Madav and Sarvnik Kaur’ is a documentary on Kashmir conflict that takes historical context into account and talks about the Kashmiri Point of View, and isn’t engaged in the mud throwing war like Pakistani and Indian media.

Numerous books are being written by Kashmiri writers to restore tales of these uncertain times so that the next generations aren’t robbed of it by the ongoing intellectual and cultural erasure of Kashmir by the Modi Government. ‘Muunu: A boy in Kashmir’, by Malik Sajad and ‘Curfewed Night (2009)’ by Basharat Peer narrate the mind numbing trauma and cultural massacre that Kashmir suffers from and will probably continue to suffer from because of unending human greed.

Kashmir isn’t only suffering from this ongoing assault but also from the events of the not-so-long-ago past that continues to haunt Kashmir. The Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits of the 90s still continue to bleed the hearts of evergreen Kashmiri victims and literature. Siddhartha Gigoo’s ‘The Garden of Solitude’ (2010) still continues to remind Kashmir of the heart wrenching migration of Kashmir’s Hindus.

Nowadays, novels and artworks are being produced, even under traumatic and dangerous circumstances, on Kashmir by Kashmiris that talk about them and their predicament. Some write about the bloodshed and PTSD that Kashmir is a regular audience to, while outsiders ignore that to write about the enthralling Dal Lake that everyone wants a piece of. Alas, no one wants Kashmir and Kashmiris to have that piece.

Written by: Maliha Rahman

Rhyme or No Rhyme, That Is The Question

Rhyme or No Rhyme
Rhyme or No Rhyme - Illustration by Saad Hasib

Now, what amount of poetic expertise
Would be ample enough – I do not know.
I know, some things are stirring in the distance –
A butterfly and a hundred such crows.
Listen to the wind, and listen closely,
The wind has a tale to tell.

Rhyme is considered as something very fundamental to poetry. The simplest way to ever describe a poem would be to call them words that rhyme. However, rhyme is not an immanent aspect of a poem. 

A huge number of people believe that the best kind of poetry is one that has some sort of rhyme. There’s no doubt that the ability to rhyme is a great talent. At the same time, not being able to rhyme is not a lacking of any kind.

With every age came a new type of poetry. There may exist a hierarchy in terms of succession, but that’s it. No one form of poetry is better than the other. 

In today’s age, the very definition of what is and isn’t poetry is not only changing but also expanding. After all, we are all poets now, we all write, we all feel. 

So, what would be the 2021 definition of poetry? Anything written from the heart that has a melody to it is poetry, or so I’d like to say.

Even though they call it a river
It’s actually a dream.

I once came across a person who said that poems have to rhyme. As they were very good at rhymes and I wasn’t, and as they felt superior to me for that very reason and I accepted it, I felt my inability to rhyme meant I could never be a good poet. 

I tried to rhyme but failed miserably. At one point, luckily so, I gave up on rhymes. I decided that I’ll write what I feel, and if it sounds good to me that will be enough. And just like that words flew out of my fingertips and started appearing on the screen in front of me.

In this city
It’s always quite quiet
You could hear the trains arriving 
Bringing lost souls to their homes
And taking aboard those who don’t have any yet.

Personally, I’m more of a fan of playing with words (not wordplay) than rhymes. I like twisting sentences, tearing down their simplicity, and bringing out something melodious. One can say that’s because I can’t rhyme. To be honest, I’m not a fan of structure altogether. That’s why I will never be writing a haiku or a sonnet. But free verse I’ll do. In fact, the popularity of free verse in today’s date is astounding. Maybe this “structure” is freeing, not restricting.

It was a sound,
Yes, it was a voluminous sound.
It came very quietly, very very quietly,
It came as the song built up itself,
It came as the words became lyrics,
It came as the lyrics filled up the brain,
It came as the brain slowly started to feel.

So, as a budding poet, should you concern yourself with rhymes? No. Not entirely.

Rhyme or no rhyme – there’s no answer to this question. In all honesty, this question doesn’t matter to me at all. And I’d like it to be the case for you too.

When I first learned about scansions, it really bothered me. Somebody dissected poems, things that existed before any rule was imposed upon them, and put forward endless rules without which, they declared, one can’t write poems. Something arbitrary was taken as a standard and now we have to live with it.

Whether it was my stupidity or my inherent reluctance, I couldn’t learn scansion. 

All of what I said so far can be taken as a postmodernist approach to poetry, or literature as a whole. Simply put, it’s about breaking down structure and rebuilding it anew, without being limited by standards and forms.

So far, I’ve only been talking against rhyme, but that doesn’t mean I’m against it. I’m only against the idea of considering only a particular style of poetry best, and the rest as something less.

One day
All that will remain of this
Is nothing. 

There are smokes on the road
In the houses on top of skyscrapers
In the eyes of those who are lost
And the worst of its kind is now soaring
From the heart of the great Amazon. 

Written by: Atanu Roy Chowdhury

What will it be?

Ikram Hossain Akif

a blue person kneeling on their legs, their face in their hands

The murmur of wind, whispering by
As I drift past the trees, the cars,
and the dead. All the bits and puzzles pile
up into a mountain. A peak, mile
high, but I keep running.

“No time to cry, to feel.
Run, escape the pull as they reel
you in. Don’t heal.
It’ll all be in waste.
Wait for the next time, in haste,”
I tell myself. A pang in my heart
screams aloud, begs to know,
When will it stop?
I sigh, “When I fall apart.”

As fate would have it my legs give
way to broken bones and tears
as I fall to my knees. I can’t help but
let loose and face my fears.

The mountain comes down,
all on me at the same time.
And when the dust settles,
and all I hear is the midnight chime;

I see it. I don’t have to run;
I don’t have to hurt to be heard.
I can have joy, without being coy,
I will be me as loud as can be.
That’s the beauty of life, here and now.
I will be hurt by things I allow,
and that’s okay
as long as I choose the happiness too.
The bittersweet feeling of accepting it all.

I see it now.

Oranges and Clementines

Faiza Ramim

An open window with wind blowing at the curtain with the sun in the corner and a branch of a clementine tree with three fruiting clementines and leaves on it

The morning light pours through the windowsill
creating broken fragments on the kitchen counter ;

It’s the beginning of September.
I think I can change my life if I want to.

The morning light pours onto the kitchen counter
And as i stood there, before an open jar of honey;
stirring it into my father’s tea,
a plain cup left for my mother
Hands reaching towards the sugar next for mine with practised ease,
I realised that this is what I wanted as love.

I wanted to love as a habit,
as a muscle memory.

I wanted to love without thinking about it.

To love because I’m so full of it I want to give it away to everybody.
keep it stored at every corner of the world and still be left with just enough.

To love and show it in the most sincere way I can.

I love you. I know how you like your tea.


It’s the middle of september.
It’s the month of epiphanies against the kitchen counter.

I think I can change my life if I want to.

Wring out the doubt, the cynic out of me like a wet sponge
And use it to make tall trees grow.
Oranges and clementines;
share them with the people i love, made so easy by the design of nature.

the light is just bright enough for the already vivid colours to turn fluorescent;
Startling you enough for you to give in to the illusion of an almost naive optimism.

This piece I share with you, could very well be quarter of a four-leaf clover
One for you, one for me
Until the citrus turned sweet from the honey of our words.
Until the shade of the sun setting on the languid afternoon matched the fruits in our hands.
and we head home with a content heart.