Children of Srinagar, Kashmir
Children of Srinagar, Kashmir
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  The Story of Gul Badshah

  Venus Envy
  Vol V : issue 1

  Cover page
  Kaushik Basu
  Radhika Coomaraswamy
  Taslima Nasreen
  N. S. Madhavan
  Zehra Nigah
  Only in Print

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Zehra Nigah

Mixed media by SABA HASAN


Last evening, while flying out
The enemy rained on me
A few yellow bags
In which I found
Round pieces of bread
A blob of butter
Bottled sweet water
A tin of preserves

In return they took
My brotherís toiling arm
On which was tied a black thread
To ward off evil
My little sisterís small foot
On which the henna was still radiant

People say this war is for peace
In such peaceful war, the assailants
Leave the children only without hands
and feet
They never leave them with empty
Humanity is not dead after all, is it?

I, standing alone among burning
Holding the gun, my inheritance
Looking at the Pageant of the Benign
Looking at the Pageant of the Benign

My name is Gul Badshah
Age thirteen


Translated from the Urdu by Syeda Hameed

My name is Gul Badshah
My age, thirteen years
My story, like my age
Is disjointed, short

My nameless, faceless mother
Without medicines, quietly died
Buried in her burqa by father

He was afraid that Munkir, Nakeer[1]
Would glimpse her face In any case
Even when alive she was in her grave

Fatherís name, Zartaj Gul
Age thirty-two
A Mujahid desiring martyrdom
Became a voyager on the Path of Truth
And the martyrís cup
From my uncleís hand he drank
Uncle was a Northern Mujahid
And prayed five times a day

This matter of martyrdomÖ
Too intricate, too complex
Better to leave it here and now.

In any case, now
Father is in Paradise
In his hand the cup of chastity
In his arms the heavenly denizens[2]
But in my fate
Bombs, blasts, smoke
This crumbling earth
That melting sky
After death, he is alive
And I
Though living am not alive



1. Two angels who go to the grave with the dead

2. Houris and Ghilmans who entertain good souls in Paradise

p. 1p. 2

Zehra Nigah is a feminist poet of Pakistan and one of the best known names of contemporary Urdu literature