This poem was first published The Aleph Review, Vol. 2 (2018).
My father once said in verse
hoon dagh-i-hayat se farozaan
I am a tulip from the garden of Kashmir.
A red tulip shimmering with a dark stain hidden in my heart—
the stain of life.
My daughter is almost the same age as Insha's.
Insha, a fresh tulip in the garden of Kashmir,
is also shimmering with a dark stain hidden in her heart—
the stain of death.
Tears roll down her cheeks—
pink cheeks pockmarked by grey pellet wounds.
Insha may never be able to see again
But she will always be able to dream.
Harris Khalique is a leading Urdu and English language poet from Pakistan, with several collections of verse behind. He is also an essayist and columnist, and has written two works of non-fiction. His poetry is anthologised internationally and translated into several languages. He is a University of Iowa Honorary Fellow in Writing and a recipient of the UBL Literary Excellence Award.
About the featured artist: Shahana Munawar was born in Hyderabad and now lives and works in Karachi. She completed her BFA in printmaking from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2001.
Shahana is currently teaching as visiting faculty in the department of visual studies at KU. She has also taught at the Centre of Excellence in Art and Design, Jamshoro and the Central Institute of Arts & Crafts, Karachi. Her work has been displayed at numerous exhibitions across Pakistan, as well as in New York.