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The Melting Kulfi and other poems by Muhammad Kamran Fiaz

Muhammad Kamran Fiaz

The Melting Kulfi

It's 2024.

AI is engulfing everything.

There was an epidemic four years ago.

Climate change is everywhere.

Now I understand why my amma and dadi used to say, "It's our sins."

Whenever there were more rains, more floods, more dust storms.

But my mother is worried about the black crow.

It snatches snacks from my brother's children.

And spoils the white shelwar-kameez

Which has just been washed and put out to dry.

Meanwhile, the muezzin is calling out the prayer.

From a loudspeaker, drowning out my dadi's voice.

Asking for water from the pitcher.

There is the sound of Walls ice cream in our village.

But we know he is carrying mirinda, Pepsi, and other flavoured iced kulfis.

Saleh is asking me to get one.

On the way, I lock the main door behind myself.

It's load shedding, so no bell.

I am waiting in the heat, knocking at the door.

Waiting for someone to open it before this iced kulfi melts.

Awaiting the Unknown

June puts November to shame,

It's the month of mangoes.

News anchors declare, "Suddenly, the weather is pleasant."

But the man protecting mango trees in the village

knows something is wrong.

Doves' coos are inaudible

in the noise of brands and shopping stores,

and those childhood trees with long branches are no more.

No banyan trees, only Cyprus,

said to be Ghalib's metaphor for a lover.

Yet they forget to tell us

Ghalib would never dream of childhood without the coos

of a dove or a koel.

How long can we sustain this way of life we call culture?

How long will teachers play the role of police in universities?

How long will the state govern rather than facilitate?

How long will peacemakers witness children's beheaded bodies to facilitate peace?

How long will children read of Robin Hood, not Eidhi?

Tomorrow, will there be poetry about chairs, walls, and windows?

In the village, a man has died who was already dead,

more await their turn in an unknown line.

To see what is in front of us, we use mirrors.

I write this with a red fountain pen,

until it is posted on the internet.

A Reluctant Perch

I am a woman, with a man's heart,

sorrowing, grieving, with an unknown guilt.

Like early mangoes, I face the crowd's eager roar,

their lecherous gaze, a burden I am told to ignore.

I saw a pigeon, searching for a place to land,

but finding none, for other birds had claimed those few stands.

There are homes without shelters

pigeons are denied a space to perch.

They say pigeons soil our whitewashed walls,

so houses are designed to keep them from standing at all.

The pigeon kept flying, circling, until it crashed,

into a mango tree, or an electric wire.

My husband spent a lifetime abroad for our family's sake,

building a home, paying fees, a sacrifice we couldn't escape.

Forty years away, he died in his sixties

wondering, was I widowed earlier, or today?

Our children orphaned, already, before or today?


Muhammad Kamran Fiaz is a PhD Scholar of Political Science. He is haunted by the echoes of longing, roshandan and abandoned places where people once lived, bred and thrived.

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