All, this is my first attempt at a ghazal. It follows a story my dad told me of when his family had to leave Nagpur and move to Hyderabad, India after the partition of India and Pakistan. Hyderabad was still under the rule of a Muslim prince, so they thought they would be safer there. Nevertheless, there was the threat of violence, so they had to leave quietly and travel at night.
We left at night, an industrial moon bathing the Distant Kingdom,
Revealed dim paths to men, leading us to the Distant Kingdom.
The moon unveiled furrowed brown faces, darting eyes and whispers,
To Allah’s weary, wide-eyed children, dreaming of a Distant Kingdom.
Small hands clutched saris, weaving in and out of brilliant folds,
Decolonized, weak smiles seeking refuge in the Distant Kingdom.
The bus traced scents of Mughal gardens, evening jasmine and gul,
Through long grass and listless rivers, searching for the Distant Kingdom.
Peacocks wailed the women’s songs of bride departure gloom,
Eight-hundred years of marriage breaking with a Distant Kingdom.
We woke to shouts and spinning wheels - a bus void of men,
Emancipated from its muddy prison singing odes to Distant Kingdom.
Oh Yasmeen, did you glimpse the light that danced on peaceful ripples?
The orange moon remained, blessing our journey to the Distant Kingdom.
© 2010 Yasmeen Najmi