Under the Sky of Paradise

Photo by Suket Dedhia via Pixabay. CC0

 (On the Kashmir exodus of the 1990s)

When my mother escapes the Valley, an aeon of existence gasps into un-existence. In this surviving, violent version of the world, the Jhelum will have an iron taste and the blood of brothers. The Kaul house in Fatehkadal from the 19th century will not survive the 20th. The child of my mother’s neighbours, who was going to be a little girl – Naaz – will never be born. Three generations of men and women on either side of a barbed wire will inherit terror as a totem and curse each other. For centuries, a subcontinent will beg to know if the water divides the land, or the land divides the water. The answer will break their hearts and families. I won’t know those streets of Habba Khatoon, and my children won’t know her language. Displacement is a bitterness which is made stronger with distance; what was left behind becomes fuller, truer with time, and the loss of it becomes crueller. When the story is told again, there will be versions based on who is asked but all their voices will crack. An exodus leaves hollow, both who leaves and who remains, and what remains of the Valley will weep and bleed forever.  

Categories Poetry

Srishti Jain is an Indian poet and physiologist based in Sydney. Her work reflects a personal representation of diaspora identity, vulnerabilities as a person of colour, as well as love and belonging in a fast, unforgiving world. Her work has been published in various literary journals such as Red Ogre Review, Rigorous, The Cancer Researcher, Meniscus, Clepsydra- Literary and Art Magazine. Her poetry on climate justice can be found in the streets of Dublin as part of The Bohemian Way campaign.

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