The first stone
against the military man who trained
his gun-muzzle on the eleven-year-old.
The second stone
thrown at the forehead of the khaki-clad man
who forced himself on the young girl next door.
The third stone
against the policeman who interrogates
the kneeling humiliation of my seventy-year-old abba.
The fourth stone
at the shrill throat of the television reporter
who called bare chinar trees towering terrorists.
a memorial stone at the tomb
of humanity that oozes blue, little
by little every day, into the frozen palette of the Dal.
Then a stone
for the unblinking translucence of kashmiriyat
that glittered, glass-like, in Faiz’s fragile dreams.
for the resurrection of the unceasing swirls
of the white tunics of Sufi dervishes.
for the steaming saffron cups of kahwa, sipped
sitting on the carpet with the sardar friend.
For that sharp-nosed shikara that darts
every evening towards them, a hurried dirge.
For the multi-hued gardens, floating cloud-like
on the wearied waters of the lake.
For all the missing letters in all the mailboxes
in Shahid Ali’s country without a post office.
for the sorrowful lol of the separated lover
In Habba Khatoun’s hand, yielding to the lust of words.
For the infinite blue sky over Mount Kailasa
where Lal Ded’s Shiva dances a frenzied tandava.
The one hundred and eleventh stone
For the lost times of all childhoods that never were#.