Tonight, let me write!

Tonight, let me write!
Let me write 
With the burning flames 
Of youthful passion
Under the silver balm 
Of the crescent moon
Amidst the soothing fragrance 
Of the spring air —

Tonight, let me write!
Let me write 
Of the dark 
Dreadful sleepless nights,
Of the days bygone 
And the paths forsaken,
Of the one-way journeys 
To strange lands —

Tonight, let me write!
Let me write
Of the hopeful eyes
And the desperate souls,
Of the severed limbs,
And the silenced songs,
Of the rising suns
And the falling stars,
Of the broken bridges 
And the stifled voices,
Of the victims of humanity —

Tonight, let me write
Let me write Kashmir! 

© Sadaf Munshi

Āzə̄dī ‘Freedom’

Ghulam Ahmad Mahjoor (1885-1952) was a revolutionary, progressive poet of modern Kashmir who used his native language, Kashmiri, as the primary mode of expression. Following the Partition in 1947, Mehjoor played a key role in opposing the Tribal invasions through his poetic compositions inspiring people to rise against the perpetrators in defending their land. Some of his very popular compositions include valo hā bāgvāno (‘Come, O Gardener’) and āzə̄dī (‘freedom’) which reflect his anguish at the state of affairs of the underprivileged, downtrodden and oppressed people of Kashmir. Following is an excerpt from his well-known poem āzə̄di ‘freedom’:

     sanā sə̄rī pariv sānyan garan manz cāyi āzə̄dī
     syaṭha yəckə̄ly asi kun jalva hāvan āyi āzə̄dī
     ‘Let us all offer thanks for to our homes visits Freedom
After a long time, a rare glimpse towards us gives Freedom’  

     yi āzə̄dī čhi trāvān magribas kun rahmatuk bārān
     karān sə̄nis zamīnas pyaṭh charey gagrāyi āzə̄dī
     ‘This Freedom showers the rain of blessings on the West
On our soil, just empty thunderstorms are offered by Freedom’

     garībī muflisī bebūj nāpursān zabān bandi
     amē ruci trāyi asi pyaṭh āyi trāvān sāyi āzə̄dī
     ‘Poverty, destitution, liability, anarchy, and repression
Coming along with these blessings, a shadow on us casts Freedom’ 

     yi āzə̄dī čhi sorgič hūr phēryā khāna pata khānay
     fakat kēncan garan andar čhi mārān grāyi āzə̄dī
     ‘A houri from the heaven, Freedom will not visit door-to-door
Only in a select few homes does merrily dance Freedom’

It seems the poem is as relevant today as it was in 1947. An audio rendition of the above excerpt is available here.

© Sadaf Munshi (August 15, 2020)

A Self Evaluation


It was a deep connection
Far-reaching yet undefined
I wonder what prompted it
There was no history
No prior contact whatsoever
Nothing visibly discernible
Nor physically tangible either —

It tested my resilience
Defeated my sense of platitude
Perseverance —
I cringed
And I crawled
Like an earthly insect
A bird with broken wings
Or a shepherd
Parted from his sheep
Wandering and confused
Aimless –-

Perhaps it’s time to capitulate
For a calm self-assessment
An evaluation of sorts
To measure the heavenly
Against the mundane

© Sadaf Munshi

An afternoon in the Dal


A beautiful evening by the window
That opens down my memory lane —
The window and I
And a piece of poetry —
A cup of nun-chai in the chilling cold
And the flights of my fantasy —
An October afternoon in the Dal
In a Shikara, and you by my side
In complete harmony
With the gentle waves
Of gilded water
And an ecstasy–
Autumn in Kashmir
Wrapped in gold and yellow,
Sulphur and crimson —
A breeze mellow
Under the majestic buin’  —
A walk by the Avantipor ruin
In the outskirts of Srinagar
Or beside the dried up Jehlum
At the waning dusk of fury and fear
Do I still not remember!
And it remains forever —

© Sadaf Munshi (2003)


Some useful notes by the author: 

Dal  ‘Dal Lake; a famous lake in Srinagar, Kashmir’
Nun-chai  ‘salt tea; traditional Kashmiri beverage’
Shikara ‘term for a traditional Kashmiri boat’
Buin ‘Platanus Orientalis; name of a tree known for its beauty and majesty world over, it has great importance in Kashmiri literature and historical tradition; also known as Chinar (from Persian)’
Avantipur ‘place name; famous for its historical importance for it houses thousands of years old ruins of the kingdom of Pandavas, great figures in Hindu mythology/religion in India; these are gigantic stones engraved with beautiful and amazing pictures’
Jehlum ‘name of a famous river in Kashmir which has been mentioned in literature centuries ago with different names; known as Vitasta in Sanskrit or Vyeth in Kashmiri’

Breakfast and Bed







Breakfast and Bed

A freshly made waffle
Topped with whipped cream
Blueberries and chocolate
I see poetry on a plate —

A cup of hot tea
With a touch of cardamom
And a streak of sunshine
Peering through the kitchen blind
There’s a rapturous warmth
In this cold Sunday morning

She sings melodies
In a husky voice
                     “Come to me, come to me”
I listen in delight 

You snore and I toss myself
On the bed, in turns pushing
And shoving you aside
I cannot sleep

Bad habits stay long —
What will you say
When I vanish
From your side one day?

© Sadaf Munshi  

Coffee and a kiss


A cup of coffee
and a sizzling kiss
ah, pure bliss!

The lover’s lips quiver
on the contours
of her body

He moves around
in the deep dungeons
of a solitary town
mapping its twists
and tracing its turns
with gentle strokes  

Please tell me, will you,
the musings of a mystery
And I shall trail down
the lyrical pathways
of the April breeze

Love is a whirlpool
of wishes and wonders
Brace up and take a dip
lest the thread of life
shall slip away

Give me a hand
when I walk on sand
and pause by the ocean–

© Sadaf Munshi



Yi gav lūka-mot
Lūka mətis kyah karizi
Yi čhu tufānah andɨ-god̩ rotsh
Apɨzis poz ta pəzis kor apuz
Zyaw nyanglə̄w tɨ əčhen ditsɨ pači

Gāmɨ-shahar yeli krekɨnād sapud
Mōsum bačɨ gəy dam-phuttẙ
Ta phryakh kheyi nōtvānav

Tse čhuy zan kunyar sanyōmut
Adɨ kava rōvukh pānsiy andar
Dopmay dapān hyenar hyetin grazin
Vyethi hund āb ti mā gav hokhyith?
Prath vati čhi vāndar kala tulith
Asān ta grāyi divān
Lači gilvān

Tse ditsɨth tshāl, mye lej və̄niji thaph
Nindrah trāvɨha ama sokh mā čhum
Kati kōr və̄tsɨs yath sahrāvas manz
Krenjlen āb barān, vatapeyd tshāran

Reshvāri hund Nunda mot kot sana gav
Mye vɨčhmay Lalded shām pətẙ
Ačhev khūn hārān
Shamshānan manz
Nāla divān

Ladishah – Kashir 2016 (II)

Ladishah Ladishah, ma sa kar graav
Yekya aayi Azaedi, “calendar” draav

Dohas beh penji pyeth, nindrah traav
Nata myen saddkay, yaa syeri phuttraav

Madrasan daftaran kuluf dyith bodd
Yedd thav keyn, tul athas kyath tsodd

Masjidan manz thovukh bait-ul-maal
Koytth phuytt ada roav zachyen taam naal

Yus baraan chanda tay khyevaan mongaddal
Moaj Kashir chhey tamis kyuth khal

Kaem-kaar traewith ays karav taqriir
Haraamuk harsyi khyath parav takbiir

Mokhta benyi rath phott koachi wothraan
Potur chhus buth tulith aychh trakraan

“Azaedi” hunduy ays ganddav partav
Jandda tay kundda hyeth naara dimav

Yusah log buthi tay su boryuun “jail”
Sarkaar chhuy dapaan wuchiv soan khyeil

Yemis lagi tamis lagi sarkaeriy
Mahraaj Saebyin zimmadaeriy

© Sadaf Munshi, Oct. 19, 2016





Ladishah: Kashir-2016 (I)


Ladishah Ladishah kot sana draakh
Zangan chhey raz tay hattis pyetth shraakh

Saddkan kochan pyetth chhe doara-doar
Prath doha yeti chhey laar kati-koar

Ayk loag curfew ta bey hartaal
Awaamas zaejikh anza-manza taal

Kaala-pagahiy chhuy yeti “blackout”
Kar sa maali jal-jal kashiri checkout

Shuyr chhiy laatthi hyethiy nyeraan
Roaba daabah tay drangal karaan

Prath doha wuchhmay kanyan hund ruud
Ath na sa saad tay na chhu kanh suud

Police tay army karyekh reemaath
Tear-gas, goli tay pellet-gun shot

Yeti kanh qonoon na samaajah
Gundan badmaashan hund chhu raajah

Teli oas aasan zyitthan hund paas
Az karaan lokttyen tay badyen khallaas

Telephone internet akhbaaran tthaakh
Yi chha kanh zindagi yath korukh ddaakh

Khaandar tay daawath karyikh mansoakh
Naattan kabaaban pyetth ta lej roakh

Mareezan zayeefan lanji-loar gaw
Gaamu shahar chhu haeraan lukaw

Tshottyik chhiy khetmyit saddkan ddyer
Nas thaaw band tay hoar kun phyer

Raatas haz hoanyaw duniyah tul
So kas aayi nindir, ada subah ti phol

Curfewas manz khets luukan naas
Baana phuytt hamsayan, lejan leyg ttaas

National channelan pyetth chhi debate
Prath akha banyomut yeti chhuy myetth

Paekistanan koruy taqriir
Aes hasa nimoan mulki Kashmir

Hyundustan wothukh ays kadoakh lang
Yi chhu soan haq tay attuutt ang

Aelwa gandda sabzii tay phal
Sarkaar dapaan yuhay gaw hal

Mosuum gobran metsi manz jaay
Kar bozyi day soan asyi andi nyaay

Ladishah Ladishah kot sana draakh
Zangan chhey raz tay hattis pyetth shraakh

Srinagar, August 2016.

© Sadaf Munshi

I Turn Away

[Note: This poem is dedicated to the women who have been subjected to sexual violence, rape, subjugation, and discrimination in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. The poem should be read in the context of certain cultural practices and historical events. I wrote this poem after the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012].


My heart, it breaks
It rains blood
I am a moon massacred
In a darksome night

I am not the first one
Nor will I be the last indeed
Yet I am alone in grief
All alone in my agony

They ask me to mask my face
To garrison my body
And disguise my curves
To fortify my buttocks
And fasten my vagina
Lest I shall seduce
Cause them to sin
Or pursue my desires

In the days bygone
They bought and had me sold
In lieu of tears, riches and gold
I brought disgust
In the eyes of my creators
They buried me in shame
Or else set me aflame
I became the property
Of kings and noblemen
Of prophets and priests

Nowadays there’s talk
Of my liberation
I am in the headlines
Of the daily newspapers
My body is on display
On television screens
In posters and billboards
Street corners and city squares

I am a toy in the hefty hands
Of the pimps and politicians
My existence is a threat
To the social structure
And communal harmony
My suffering a collateral damage
In the territorial conflicts
Domestic and international affairs

They keep playing with me
I am their victim
The weaker sex
The lesser human
Poor woman!

Today, I turn away my face
From the cruel humanity —
Let there be no tears, no fears
No retribution whatsoever
Let there be no solicitation
For justice —

No more will I cry
No more be a victim
No lesser human
And will be Woman!

© Sadaf Munshi, 2013