Poem: I’ve been thinking of that summer…

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Illustration by Suhail H Naqshbandi.

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
When freedom’s terrible thirst, spread,
Across the territory of grief, covering,
The vast landscape of pain,
Like a balm.

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
When the boys fell one after another, to bullets,
When people came out, unasked,
Filling tear-gassed lanes and by-lanes,
Cast in stones, slogans, tears, cries, words,
The sentiment gathered, a collective force.

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
When Fancy Jan, near the window of her room, received a bullet,
Drawing the curtain, her last words cried out,
For mother, an unwed daughter’s farewell:
“Mummy, mae aaw heartas fire.”

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
When the young pallbearers, braving bullets, marched,
When coffins of young boys fell from their shoulders,
When more boys, shot at, entered more coffins,
Multiplying funerals, falling short of mourners.

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
When young boys wept, gasping for breath, in bloodied clothes,
Carrying the bullet-hit, the unconscious, to the hospitals,
Queuing up, unannounced, before makeshift blood banks,
Shouting, reminding the unforgotten:
“Yena yae mashreavev, yena yae mashraevev.”

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
Of summers, yet to warm, frozen hearts,
Of the brightest day of them all,
That stuns the darkest night of occupation,
With enlightening freedom.

I’ve been thinking of that summer,
That realizes a recurring dream,
Into a reality, quenching the historic,
Freedom’s terrible thirst.

The dream throbs,
With every death, in every drop of blood,
Unoccupied, in restless hearts,
And memories.

The dream lives, in our wounds.


The poem was written a year after the summer of 2010 uprising, triggered by the killing of 17-year-old Tufail Ashraf Mattoo, as Kashmir witnessed widespread pubic protests which were countered with force. 

Tufail was killed when a tear gas canister fired by the armed forces hit him in the head. 

His father Ashraf Mattoo has spent the last ten years trying to get justice.


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