Love in the Time of Terror


Your visage as the snow of Kashmir

Beckons my heart in exile.

And words as waves on Jhelum and its turns

Ripple on the burnt apple-orchards of soul.

And each of your steps now weave,

Gold-fire patterns on shawls

That so far have cloaked all my sins.


So loosen your maple-autumn hair

As I whirl as a dervish in trance

And chant a new sama to your eyes.


Between us an LOC of vows

And specters of Kalashnikov-laws.


But no brittle fatwa will cleanse your face

From shrines within mind’s hallowed caves.


And I Majboor will sing to your fame

Through valleys of saffron and pine.



Murmurs of Loss


Silence as ashes are heaped

All around ruins of your house,

Where ghazals from the soirées of past

Float as if snowflakes in last season’s air

Warbled with Dal’s sullen streams.


The last cars pass on Zero Bridge in dark

Where filigree of frost has arrayed our tears

In paisleys of forgotten lores.


Can reinforced bunkers now curb

The zikr of love in our souls?


But your loss has no address in time

Where heart’s mad letters might reach.


And I Majboor, with abdicated strings

Still sing of spring in my dreams.


The Voice of the Beloved


Away within tents full of agony and shame

I longed for your impassioned songs.


On nights full of insects in dust bowl of heat.

They hummed to my ears,

The rhythms of our home,

Glistening with snowflakes and stars.


But no blessed word to all of our gods

Can restore those unlimited greens.


For us are the images of temples now smashed

And captions of ever-growing hate.


Yet within corners of cramped little flats

In a city that breathes as an unscheduled halt

Winter still whispers your name.


And momently the air with apple-blossom grace

Spins a new yarn of love without fence

That rivals your Ranjha and Heer.


If only more timely you called…

If only I dared to respond!


And though I may never your Jhelum-eyes meet,

Memories of lips will trumpet your tales

And you Majboor, in Love’s storied realms

Will dazzle in hundred and eight names.


About the Poet

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Abin Chakraborty teaches English Literature in a college in West Bengal, loves reading the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali and hopes for more readers for his poems.