Makhi

The fly — unwanted by one and all
has such freedom to come sit on my nose
and it is free from the everyday which imprisons me

Sabke liye nā-pasandīda uḌtī makkhī
Kitnī āzādī se mere muñh aur mere hāthoñ par baiThtī hai
Aur is roz-marrase āzād hai jismeñ main qaid huuñ’

— Kishwar Naheed
(Trans. by Vaishnavi Mahurkar)

Urdu poet Kishwar Naheed was born in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1940. As a young child, she witnessed the aftermath of violence wrought against women during Partition. During the riots, Muslim girls from her community were kidnapped, raped, and abused. She has since said that seeing the injured girls who managed to crawl home marked the moment she stopped being “just a child and became a girl child.” Naheed’s family moved to Lahore, Pakistan, in 1949, where she fought to gain access to an education in a system that prohibited girls from attending school. She received her B.A. in 1959 and a Master’s in Economics in 1961 from Punjab University.

[Research note: Harris Khalique, “The phenomenal woman,” Herald (June 18, 2015).]

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