A ‘Tribal Talk’ in Verses

By Zubair Nazeer

Tribals of Kashmir

A man from plains has come to the hills again

He may fail to notice I live here yet again.

Preoccupied he seems with the issues of the plains

Tribal problems will not cross his mind again.

 

I would not look at him, surprised and suspiciously

The way he does when I move into the plains briskly.

I wouldn’t ask my friend ‘nature’ to ignore him

Rather, it should honour and welcome him happily.

 

Neither am I uncivilized nor ‘reservation’ my need

My subjugation and oppression has been his deed.

I have never questioned his right to live in his land

I also have right to live why doesn’t he just pay heed.

 

I neither desire his resources, nor hate his culture

He knows all my resources, but not my culture.

Barring material things, the rest of mine, he disdains

If not me, at least, he should notice my culture.

 

‘Though I wish, but let these words, not reach him

He has come here, comfortable, we should make him

Let him notice everything in the hills except for me

He is our guest, a blessing from God, let us honour him.’

 

The Man from the plains has come to the hills again

I am so happy to see him in the hills yet again.

He would be blessed by tribal gods and nature

And he would come to seek the same pleasure again.

 

Some day he may eventually end up noticing me

Understand tribal culture, issues and befriend me.

I will pray for a better life and prosperity in the plains

He would aid in conserving the hills and support me.

 

I believe the hills would be soon close to the plains

And I would visit and enjoy without fear in the plains.

My friend would instantly recognize me and say aloud

‘A Man from the Hills has come to the Plains’

(Note: This poem is based on interactions with Tribal community of Jammu and Kashmir)

(Zubair Nazeer is a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He has also taught in the Department.)

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