Almost an ode

Arshid Malik

I have come a long way, away from home and my homeland, walking the treacherous paths of shabby bliss in search of a muse. I have walked on and on for months together now, towards possibilities of generation in a morbidly squeamish world. I have been on the lookout for enforced mechanisms of practiced forgetfulness and, I must say, that I am deeply anguished as my travels have not yielded anything.

I have been on the lookout for inflicted laughter that could disguise the warts, wrinkles and warnings off my face. I have been on the prowl for a predator that could gulp me down and wipe away all influences of the past, present and future. I have been walking for months now and I am exasperated and exhausted. Sometimes I attempt to run, but my meek disposition stops me in my tracks whenever I do. I am thwarted by the weight of my conscience. I am delayed and have almost lost.   

I have come a long way, away from home and my homeland, walking the treacherous paths of shabby bliss in search of a muse. My muse was my motherland, in what seems like “always”. And this “always” didn’t last too long. The pocketfuls of verses that I wrote with my motherland as my muse evaporated into thin year, yes it did. It just disappeared one day and one ugly day that was. It was “The Day of Massacres”. Young and old, men and women, who were out on the streets protesting “oppression”, were shot down “one by one”; some survived with perpetual scars while some melted away like icicles in the sun, and so did my desire to write for and of my homeland. My scribbling dreams and desires vanished momentarily, that ugly day, and returned to disappear forever.

The plush green forest cover, the musical brooks and streams, the gentle breeze, one and all have turned deeply evanescent and every night one goes to sleep there is no telling what and where one would find on waking up the next morning. Things have turned so fluid in Kashmir in past few decades. Value systems have turned vague and morality and honesty have turned their faces on us.

There is no trust between brothers, no affection between father and son as treachery and self-indulgence rules the roost. Love has floated away and compassion has drifted past us. We have been hurt but we have hurt ourselves even more. We have turned into an already captivated “band of crooks”.  And I have no doubts about the fact that we have really disgraced our land, our own motherland.

We have plundered Kashmir more than the “others” did. We have shot our beloved in the heart and don’t even think of repentance. We have betrayed our ancestors and our legacy. And by the order of things, I meted out my own judgment that my motherland shall no longer be my muse, for how could I write about someone I have bruised deeply, how could I look it in the eye and feed my soul off its ever flowing beauty and write beautiful verses. I am a failed poet, one could say, but more than that I am a son who has failed bitterly.

Now, I walk long walks in search of a muse, or else something that would devour me or make me forget who I am and to whom I belong. I have given up, as a matter of fact, and yet the fact remains that I cannot but belong to from where I come. Attempted amnesia only brought my memories back and now they are more forceful than ever.

My collapse has suddenly turned into rapture and I cannot help but string words together into a poem of sorts. But how can I do that if I do not have a muse? That tells me that I cannot forbid the muse and perhaps reciprocally it is the muse which can abandon the poet. Did my muse abandon me sometime back and now haunts me again for there is a certain kind of stir inside my soul that throws me off daily life balance and sends me into chasms of resonating poetry. Or maybe still I might have discovered on my journeys to modern hinterlands that there is nothing to be found; that I am the origin of my own story and I am the end.  And this is my “almost an ode” to my motherland.

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