Our Orchards Weep in Silence in Kashmir
A poem written by Huma Sheikh.
A poem written by Huma Sheikh.(Illustration: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)

Our Orchards Weep in Silence in Kashmir

What’s left is a broken picture
weeks after Article 370 was revoked.
August 2019 – shikaras in Kashmir
tied to the shores, turning dry,
kites overhead looking for carrion;
a lone woman’s face in a houseboat window,
a baby’s scream chipped away by curfews.

In such silence, who will we be?
We thought, we’d never be without the 370,
without such privilege, that’s no one’s but ours –
without such code, bonded land, who will we be?

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My mother’s fingers fumble on the phone
in our Delhi apartment.
Silence follows the dial tones
instead of her mother’s ach che theek.

“Phone lines in Kashmir down for the 20th day,”
my mother says. I haven’t been able to talk with Apa.
We are not fine. We are not ach che theek.”

Who will we be without the red soil trodden by Indian military boots?

Grandma pats the children on their heads
as they walk out the door.
Her fingers summon protection,
a dua that lifts fears of a shooting, a bomb explosion
on every bend of the road filled with bunkers,
military trucks.

I wonder if her fingers tremble today to stifle the silence.
Perhaps she wants the ghostly clock to explode.

We dream of freedom
when the waters of Jhelum and Chenab
are stolen;
when a pheran-clad woman runs
through the lingering smoke of grenades
to smell the apples in her ancestral orchard.
The 370 held us like bran over a grain of rice – Kashur tomul.

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(The author was born and raised in Kashmir. She’s presently based in the US where she’s pursuing her doctoral degree in Creative Writing and teaching at Florida State University. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. ThoughThe Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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