MY GRANDMOTHER’S GRAVE
A POEM BY INSHAH MALIK
The author clicked this picture in June 2010, when the Indian army broke the windowpanes of their family house in Srinagar, Kashmir, where her grandmother raised her children.
A frail woman who raised her children,
With the anger of her dispossession
She wore her dress obeying the tradition
And mocking men who failed.
She wanted to travel another city
If there wasn’t a mouth she should feed
She lost her husband and dug his grave
She then sang him obituaries
She walked in her burke upright
And then when she faced it
She hurled the stones earmarked
She saw her grave, just like me
She knew walking over the bridge
Where no woman was allowed
Bringing shame and reprimand
But she braved it all
On sunny mornings in Buschpor
When she asked me to open the window
A beam of sun rays touched her feet
She combed her long grey tresses
Singing herself unknown phrases
And then she would be unnerved by it all
When I tell her, listen, the time now
It is the same, the same!
She feels the light coming through
Her pain she says is gone
How sad? She doesn’t yield?
I tell her this is the same?
Poison in new forms
That kills and maims
And she says did you notice the mole,
On the arse of the Maharaj
That our ancestors had to wash?
Did you see the hands that weaved?
Him glorious shawls?
The brazen bruises that decorate
Our faces and backs, and the bony legs?
How do you not see them?
I say but how can you tell?
This isn’t the worse,
She says the worse doesn’t progress
It stands still, while you break
Yes, but it is still, so still,
I see your grave and mine,
She says, Ah my grave!! it is so small as if for a child
And yours? It will fit three people like mine
And I say, but granny, I will die so young!
She says if you saw the Maharaj you would not live!
I saw Maharaj, and the pain of your bruises, I can feel it
She says may be you do, but you don’t
Trust me, I carry it with me, in my temples
And beams of tears that fills me up
She says you can’t carry it? It sticks
I want to say, I’m in more pain
Because I’m aware of your pain
She says burdens of history are smaller
Than the burdens of future
But I think of future too, it is painful
She says why think everything will come without pain?
I see, I complain about pain and I mustn’t!
She says make it a gain
I say I’m tired and can’t carry on
She says: Great! Be happy
At least you would be
Three sizes bigger than me
In your grave.
 Burke is a Kashmiri Muslim headgear.
 Buschpor is name of an area in upper Srinagar, Kashmir.
 Maharaj refers to the Hindu Kings installed in Kashmir by the British during the colonial era. The Dogra rule was characterized by brazen anti-Muslim policies.