Linked with our presentation of Kundan Lal Chowdhury MD – India / Kashmir, and of The Shirya Bhatt Mission Hospital, Jammu.

Read this on Kashmir News Network.

A refugee camp in Jammu,

by Dr. K. L. Chowdhury
A Muslim from the valley visits his erstwhile Pandit neighbour.

Dear Pandit, dear brother,
dear friend, dear neighbour,
in leaving the accursed valley
you really proved the wiser.
You only lost your hearth and home
we our honour and shame;
you left behind your estate and farm
our pride hath come to eternal harm;
you escaped from fear and terror
we are condemned to unspeakable horror,
and while you give tongue to your thoughts
ours are tied in tedious knots
and truth is a casualty with us
as we speak in the militants’ vein
against what our consciences ordain.

You live in a torn, tattered tent
yet your head is not bent
while ours are stooped in servitude
to the gun-toting multitude,
the cordon-and-search and the crackdown
is a slur to our honour, we must own,
but worse still
the swoop on our privacy
and the lust for meals, money, and maids
by the marauding boys with AIDS,
flouting all canons of religion,
destroying the movement ere it has begun.

It is now a free-for-all,
no longer the holy Jihad,
but a class war my pal,
and those who would sweep our floor-
blackers, bootleggers and more-
carry the gun and order us about
as paupers of yesterday
are today’s lords with real clout,
the true Mujahid, alas no more,
but Arabs and Sudanis
Pakis and Afghanis.

In your flight from that hell
your intellect precedes you well
as ours goes pell-mell;
and the values we shared fled with you
our traditions and culture too;
and while the valley burns in hatred
its heritage fades from the face of the earth.
Our freedom has been snatched away
in the frenzy that holds sway.
As the foolish struggle comes to naught
we rue the Azadi that we sought.

Can we find a way out,
can we together, dear Pandit,
break ground
and turn the wheel around?

Jammu – 11 December 1996

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