Mother Writes to President Eisenhower

6 August 1956

Dear Mr. President,

I’m your shadow under the Kashmir sky.
My 7- and 9-year-old boy and girl
are over there across the Cease Fire Line
and my younger four are with me
over here on this side of Partition.

Children who grow up apart don’t know
how to say goodbye.
Gods of wrath have flung me
into an unloved city where flowers are dusty,
and branches are weeping.

Even birds have stopped singing.
My home feels empty. Why
can the blessed nuns at Jesus & Mary
Convent, Murree readily cross the Line
to teach at the Presentation Convent,

Srinagar, and my children can’t? Gods
of wrath are killing my memory.
A mother without memory has no history.
I shield myself with silence.
A voice speaks inside my heart. Often,

I wish to make myself wings, and fly.
I have run out of tears, Mr. President.
You are the sky and the earth. Please
tear down all walls dividing people,
not just in Kashmir but wherever

children become barricades. Please
show the world our resolve
by printing this in The New York Times.
Good luck in your bid for re-election.
I’ll pray for your victory. Sincerely,

Mrs. Maryam Jan,
Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

“Mother Writes to President Eisenhower” from My Mother’s Scribe by Rafiq Kathwari. Used with permission of the publisher, Yoda Press. All rights reserved.