On Thanks-Giving

For many, it is a time to reflect on heritage and family. Kashmir, part of my heritage, has been known as a place of conflict and war since the Partition of India and Pakistan, with tens of thousands of deaths. Before separation from English Colonialism, and Partition, there was a lengthy period of time where Islam, Hinduism, Sufism, Sikhism, and Buddhism coexisted peacefully in one of the most gorgeous areas of the world.

While the timeless male poets Rumi, Gibran, and Hafez have received lots of recognition in the Western World, there are some amazing female poets from my region of the world. South Asian poetry from women often combined spiritual elements with eroticism and everyday life for a potent mix.

Lal Ded was a Kashmiri mystic who lived in the 14th century. She was a yogi and practitioner of erotic (tantric) spirituality. She cast aside traditional values and subsequently became homeless, wandering from village to village.

Centuries later her poetry could not be more timely.

I have seen an educated man starve,
a leaf blown off by bitter wind.
Once I saw a thoughtless fool
beat his cook.
I have been waiting for the allure of the world to fall away.

I might scatter the southern clouds,
drain the sea, or cure someone
hopelessly ill.
But to change the mind
of a fool
is beyond me.

I came by the public road
but won’t return on it.
On the embankment I stand, halfway
through the journey.
Day is gone. Night has fallen.
I dig in my pockets but can’t find
a cowry shell.
What can I pay for the ferry?
Wander, my poor soul, you’re not going home anytime soon.

See also my post on heritage and ancestry.
In peace. 🙏🏽

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