‘Main Khud Sey Ek Ladai Hoon’: Life in Kashmir

Chup rehti hai yeh raat khadi,
ya shayad mujhsey kuch kehti hai.

Sannatoy sey bhari hui,
Kitna kuch yeh sehti hai.

Raaton mein jo kambal oodey,
Yeh meri tanhai hai.
Ya mujhey kuch pooch rahi, meri yeh parchai hai.

Main khaak hoon ya khuaf hoon,
Ya Jhelum ki ek mauj hoon?

Main kaun hoon,
Main khud sey ek ladai hoon.

Ek aas hoon, ehsaas hoon,
Khud sey behad naraz hoon.

Main bhoj hoon ya nemat,
Khuda kar dey bas rehmat.

In wadiyo ki sardiyo, mein soyi hui namaz hoon,
Khud key wajood ko dhundti, ya phir koi parwaaz hoon.

Hoon kaun main,
Main kaun hoon.

Chinar ki in sookhi pattiyo ka shor,
Ya goliyon key dhuen sey hojaney wala andhera ghanghor.

Hoon kaun main,
Main kaun hoon.

Musalman honey ka wajood,
Ya Hindustani honey ka saboot.

Bohat gareebi dekhi hai Maine pass sey,
Bohat alag alag andaaz mein.

Kuch aankho ki ek aas mein,
Kuch rooh ki ek saas mein.

Kabhi bhook mein lipti rehti wo,
Na khud sey bhi kuch kehti wo.

Kabhi bebas si, be awaz si,
Kabhi sunn padi si laash si.

Musalsal ghut ta raha hoon main,
In wadiyo ko cheekta sunta gaya hoon main.

Mukhtalif zindagi hai, iska gala mat ghoto,
Main bhi insaan hoon, mujhey har baat par mat toko.

Pandit bhi mai, mai maulvi,
Hindustan ka main taj bhi.

Main dhoop hoon, hoon chaav bhi,
Jhelum mein tairti naav bhi.

Main do mulko ki ladai hoon,
In wadiyo ki ruswai hoon.

Main jeet bhi, main haar bhi,
Jehadiyo ka waar bhi.

Mai jung hoon, jo hai khadi,
Gamgeen si yeh zindagi, beemar si jo hai khadi.

Mazoor hoon, lachaar bhi,
Par hamwatno sey bezaar nai.

Jeeta hoon roz, is aas par,
Teri har jhooti baat par.

Musalsal dhunta raha hoon raastey,
Manzil shayad thi pass, par ab yaad nahi.

Gumnami ki chadar odey, har rahey,
Chahato ka ab jaisey ehsaas nahi.

Rooth gaye hai jaisey khud sey,
Ab toh kya hai khud, khudko yaad nahi.


The poet has provided an English translation.

The long dark night stands in silence in front of me,
Or maybe, maybe it’s trying to speak to me.

Filled with silence,
It quietly suffers so much oppression.

I hide my loneliness under the wraps of my blanket in the night,
Or maybe, maybe my shadow is asking me so many questions.

Am I fear or rubble?
Or maybe, I am the waves of Jhelum.

Who am I?
I am a fighter fighting myself.

I am hope, I am a feeling,
I am someone who is angry with himself.

Am I a boom or a bane?
All I want is god’s help.

Am I the peace of namaz in this cold mountain place?
Or I am the first flight trying to find my own self?

Who am I?
What am I?

The voice of the dry leaves of the Chinar,
Or the cloud of gun smoke that covers the sky.

Who am I?
What am I?

The existence of being a Muslim,
Or the proof of being an Indian?

I have seen poverty from my very heart,
And I have seen it in different ways.

Sometimes in the hope of eyes,
Sometimes in the breath of my soul.

Sometimes it’s wrapped in hunger,
Not speaking to even itself.

Sometimes lost, without its own voice,
And sometimes numb like a dead body.

I have been suffocating continuously,
And I have seen these valleys crying in pain and anguish.

It’s such a small life; don’t kill it like this,
Even I am a human, don’t stop me from everything.

I am a Pandit, and a maulvi too.
Above all, I am the crown of India.

I am the sun, I am the shadow,
I am like a paper boat floating in the waves of the Jhelum

I am the fight between two nations,
Or am I an insult to this valley?

Sometimes I define a win, sometimes I define loss
And sometimes I am simply an attack by militants.

I am a war standing tall,
Amidst a life which is sad, disabled and lying on a deathbed.

I am crippled as I could be
I am helpless as I could be
Still, I am not displeased with my brothers

Every day, every day I am living on hope.
I am living on your false statements

I have been continuously looking for a direction,
The destination might be near, but I don’t remember it now.

Wrapped in the veil of anonymity, is every way,
I am left with no feeling of love at all.

Alas, I am angry with myself,
I don’t even remember who I am now.

Shazan Siddiqui is a 26-year-old based in Mumbai.