Kafila: “Mother I will make you cry today”

‘Mother I will make you cry today’

(On June 30th 2010, Asif Rather age nine ran out of his home in Baramulla in Kashmir to look for his older brother. As he left, he told his mother ‘I am going to make you cry today’. Minutes later he fell victim to shooting by the forces. At the time he was 150 meters from his house. – The Indian Express)

He stood at the sunlit door
A nine-year old with tousled hair
Asif Rather, student of class four,
Baramulla, 55 kms from Srinagar

‘Where is Touqeer?’
He sought his older brother.
‘Nowhere! You come back now
Here’s tea and last night’s bread
My baby, let me comb your hair’

Outside, the sounds Allah o Akbar
Chanting at once, one thousand strong

‘Mother, I’ll get him back’
‘No child, Touqeer is big, he’s with friends
My youngest, you’re too small
See here is cream skimmed off the milk
Now come, you make me angry’

The little form at the sunlit door
Ran out, unheeding
The face appeared, smiling at the window pane
‘Mother, you cant be angry; I’ll make you cry today’
And he was gone

Outside the milling crowds of tall and lanky youth
And one lost boy in a forest of long legs
And long sticks cut from poplar trees
Some hands clutch roadside stones
‘Touqeer!’ he called out
Was that his blue shirt?
But there were hundreds in blue
He felt the tears well up
Quick jammed with grimy fists.

He stood confused, afraid, ashamed
‘I should have had the milk and last night’s bread
So hungry and so far from Ma..
But Touqeer, where’s he?’

And then it burst
The tear gas shell tore his tender flesh
‘Allah’ he cried his small hand warding off
the evil that drew blood.

The crowd stood still
A dozen hands reached out
To hold the falling body
His bullet broken neck
Gently rested on still hands
Of weeping boys
The tousled head of hair
Blood drenched, hung in strands
On a shining forehead

And twisted in the sinews of my mind
Are seven words
(Seven lines of Quran’s first Surah)
‘Mother I will make you cry today’
How many mothers of my Kashmir
The place where I was born
Will cry today?
Will cry tomorrow?

Dr. Syeda Hameed is a writer and Member, Planning Commission of India. This poem first appeared in Kafila.