He climbed the steps briskly,
head held high,
greeted the hangman
with a gentle nod.
His beard grew defiant
as the hood plunged his face
in visible darkness
he remembered the judge
asking to repeat
alphabets of servitude.
Ignoring the judge,
he roared names
of forefathers who too had died
standing tall like the Himalayas.
He remembered his
mother’s tender touch,
his playful son named
after the poet, Ghalib;
his young, exuberant wife
whose mercy pleas went unheeded
in an unforgiving democracy;
faces of friends flashed by
as did houseboats on Dal Lake
the Shalimar
apple orchards in his hometown
his silly dreams
of heaven above
this playground below
where unruly children
refuse to learn
the etiquette of captivity
in rooms with no windows
only high grey walls
where they pumped petrol
into his anus to break him
as they had countless others
of same skin and soul.
His face was the color
of parched earth,
lips never ceased
reciting one last poem,
the hangman swore,
for God’s unruly children
to live forever Free.

Note: Many Kashmiris feel that Afzal Guru, convicted
of aiding those who attacked India’s Parliament,
did not receive a fair trail, that his testimony was coerced,
 he himself did not kill anyone and, hence, many feel
the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment,
to satisfy the “collective conscience” of the World’s
largest democracy as the Supreme Court of India noted.