Poems of Huzaifa Pandit

His Master’s Voice

(For Major Avtar Singh – the murderer of Jaleel Andrabi)

Master,

they play your voice

at night on the broken

gramophone when the light worms

have slept, tired of the drenched morning

that never ends.

 

Master

Your notes shake hands

Like the fleeting rain falling on

Blown out lamps. The days are sad, Master

yet at night smoke of sadder death fills my wide nostrils.

They burn all the idols

Of gods anointed by

you.

 

Master

I petition to dye

The soiled bowl of moon

With the warm tint of that fateful

spring.

Master, I petition

the shadows of banned stars

protest at night near my tongue tied window and break open

my last

heart.

 

Master

I have forfeited my dogmas

surrendered every charade of a plan.

I have sworn via costly affidavits before

their Lordships: I won’t atone my sins.

Yet, every night, Master, my throat refuses to howl.

I ache for

a sip of warm

blood.

 

Master

Curse my sad eyes.

Your murderer left the house

Weeping and wailing. I never consoled

him. He cupped your warm blood in his coarse hands

and deposited it softly in my

bowl. The taste lingers,

Master. How can I then

set you

free?

 

Hysteria

 

I clench cold blue pebbles

in my swollen palms.

 

Mother sprinkles warm breath

gathered from drenched Quran and her prayer rug.

 

Uncle says four witnesses testified-

moon rose in Iqbal’s medicated eyes on Eid.

 

He ploughed the soiled lane

with thirsty nails after the last bullet.

 

In the fresh mazaar, we bound his dead

feet with narcissus plucked from beside the grave.

 

The parchment of my heart

is empty, quite empty.

 

 

Letters to Azaadi

Either everyone talks of you to me

Or else no one converse with me

  • Anonymous

 

They barricade us, dear

in halls of censored silence.

 

A half dead rumour

whispers you will visit soon.

 

Black roses shed mourning, buds

bulge in the blind garden

beside frantic beds in the fort-prison.

 

We were directed to forget

the taste of tulips left on battered

tongues and further directed to report

the rumours of your exile to stinking Dal.

 

We wrote back

An ember simmers in our ancestral mouths

when cold minutes prey on a mutilated memory.

We wrote that this fire also feeds on our caned bones.

 

We Remain wedded to our delusion:

One day, the final destination of mirages

will testify in courts of reality. Their apprehensions

too will be dismissed, we too will wheel in the hollow horse of victory.

 

We are still prisoners of the sorcerers.

They lure us with outlawed remedies and handcuffed

potions. They gouge out our warm heartbeats and auction them
at the loud borders over feasts of rented revelry. We are yet foolish dear

to smuggle letters to you in our beats. Do they reach you? Did you read them? You never reply.

 

Minutes of a Meeting

 

Neither a ritual of friendship, nor any mark of enmity

Both adopt a similar colour in your city.

  • Khatir Gaznavi

 

Look, did nobody inform you?

The vultures meet tomorrow to discuss the magpie.

The feast is set and the guests are met, in Coleridge’s words.

Today, the radio news announced the magpie stands accused

of slander, misinformation and rebellion against the dead summer.

The summer was found dangling upside down from the almond bough

in the masked gardens yesterday. The Magpie is the prime suspect.

Yesterday, the radio declared it in four dead languages every hour.

I heard them.

 

Indeed, did nobody inform you?

They have all the proofs. The magpie was found

hopping in blood coated feet between the words

of a poem by Shahid. You know Shahid? No, not the boy shot dead

yesterday. No, not the one they picked up last year!

No, Shahid – our beloved witness and cashmere poet.

The magpie was caught near his villas of peace.

The spotlight caught him

eying the inscriptions on the graves

recently whitewashed. We need new symbols,

they announced on the radio. So, they have wiped hurried blood

off the clichéd inscriptions. You know the elegy

about the swallow returning the garden back to the gulcheen – the black rose thief.

The radio announced elegies are banned now.

I heard them.

 

Indeed, did nobody inform you?

That the trial is due soon. The magpie has spilled the beans.

It is due to be grand conspiracy. The bats have shut their bored eyes.

They have seen and heard enough. No prior sanction is required to display

its gassed innards on the clock tower. The radio threatened miscreants to not expect mercy.

I heard them.

 

Indeed, did nobody inform you?

Last winter, the magpies hung in the warm jails

were piled on the blasted road. They wrapped them in smoked shrouds

after calculating the price of a censored massacre. Their ghosts have promised

to immolate themselves at the feast in protest. The wary vultures have announced

that nobody shall be permitted to take any liberty, so they will step up security.

The radio speculated it remains to be seen who emerges the victor.

I heard them.

 

Testimony in February

Murdering a lover was never far from any beloved’s mind-

but before your regime, it wasn’t the general practise

-Dard

 

Faraz, what befell the garden’s residents this time?

Why don’t my friends of the cage answer me?

-Ahmed Faraz

 

We will evacuate our grief

Won’t you rent our empty hearts?

 

We will forsake our creed

Won’t you be the Prophet of heresy?

 

We will prevail upon Death

Won’t you outbid it at the auction?

 

We have disowned desire

Won’t you accept our turn of phrase?

 

We forgot your name

Won’t you silence our conversations?

 

We scheme we will be faithful

Won’t you seduce us in sore custody?

 

We have abandoned our homes

Won’t you house us in mirrors of history?

 

We gaze out from the prison window

Won’t you blow out green stars and the moon?

 

We too call caged friends, Faraz

Won’t they reply with tidings of a massacre?

 

Huzaifa Pandit was born and raised in Kashmir. He is pursuing a PhD on “Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Agha Shahid Ali and Mahmoud Darwish – Loss, Lyricism and Resistance” at University of Kashmir. His poems, translations, essays and papers have been published in various journals like Indian Literature, PaperCuts, CLRI, Punch and Muse India. He is fond of Urdu poetry, Urdu and old Bollywood music. He hopes to publish a book of his translations soon.

 

Huzaifa