Poetry | ‘For Shahid Azmi’ & ‘Valentine’s’ by Iqra Khan | Issue 41 (May, 2021)

For Shahid Azmi

Those startling blue and yellow sheets
Of tarpaulins and toil;
They still appear like azure seas
And mildewed limestone walls still tease
The nostrils. Deonar glaciates
Under time and the cold
Disdain of Bandra-Worli. Still,
The wastelands swell beside your world,
And clammy moons on methane wane.
The only thing that’s changing here
Is this: beneath a spiteful sun,
From a poisonous ground
The children bloom
Into thorns in the mightiest sides.

Your people wake
With you, their morning star.


On February the 14th,
The internet drips with Urdu
And its syrupy tropes
For romance.

The language of love,
With its endless supply
Of affection
Blooming in letters
Like lilies
Draped in syllables
Of gossamer.

Mohabbat. Mehboob. Jaan-e-jahaan–
Love. Beloved. Life of the world.

14 lives of the world
In which lived
Bilkis Yakoob Rasool.

Akhlaq, Asgari’s beloved,
Haunted memory.

49 brothers in Yogi’s kingdom;
Was not theirs to have,
Eternal struggle,
Their only bequest.

But you,
Your unencumbered mohabbat,
Your caste-blessed mehboobs,
Will never speak,
The impossible consonants
Of this language
That make your tongues limp
And your throats convulse.

ﺥKhe for khoon,
Our cheapening blood,
ﺥ Khe for Khudaya,
Our unheard prayers.

ﻖQaaf for qatl,
Slaughtered sunbirds.

ﻍGhayn for ghaayab,
Fading friends,
Forgotten Najeeb.

Mohabbat without justice
Is oblivion,

So send no roses
To this gloom.
Here, is a graveyard
Where poppies bloom.

Iqra Khan is a law graduate from Gujarat National Law University, TEDx speaker and bilingual poet, who writes in Urdu and English. She hails from Bhopal, India, and her work is centered around social justice issues in her community and country.

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