It’s okay to ‘maim’ my ‘name’ for I’m an inconsequential ‘thing’
You can place me on the shelves of Primark and Aldi
Mine is a ‘budget identity’, made on the cheap – no frills!

But a long time ago, in the era of benign kings and cheerful souls
My people’s fortunes and graces were celebrated afar
On distant plains, if you’d paid attention, you’d hear their words

But now they’re no more. Old ‘remains’ of Gandhara’s good days
The old language has lost her script, its sounds fading into the winds
As we wake up in Britain to recover moments from that easterly breeze

What of Gandhara and that ancestral place we’ve forgotten?
Of wealthy merchants and beautiful people, pure and caring
Giving their dues, their acts sketched on the minds of filial folk?

Their statues are serenaded in British Museums and glossy books,
A blessing of sorts I guess, plucked from their decaying promenades
Thousands of miles away from the land of the ‘Crescent’ and ‘corrupt men’

I can walk into any British library and see their faces as if they’d never left
I’m at peace, I’m overjoyed, Gandhara’s good name is assured
And so,  I thank my forbears lingering fondness for Britain’s Merchant Ships

In the dingy engine rooms, they shovelled coal and made passage here
More than a century ago, they made the leap for Britain’s cold winters
I don’t know their names, or the places they stayed, or their memories

But at least I’ve ‘something’ of “them” in Britain’s stately buildings
Standing proudly tall, sublime, my people celebrated with care,
Here in the land of the ‘Cross’, I can journey into the past with ease

It’s as if I never left that place we’ve all forgotten
And in the peace of a cavernous space, the good folk of Gandhara
Carefully placed, honoured, speak to us, telling us of our beginnings!

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Editor at Portmir Foundation; liberal by values, opposed to tribalism in all its guises; love languages and cultures – want to study as many as I can; proficient in some; opposed to social and political injustice wherever it rears its ugly head even from within my own British-Pahari community (a little unsure about the juxtaposition. The term ‘Pahari’ can mean different things to different people – stay posted. Grandparents from the Himalayan mountains of Jammu, presently split between India and Pakistan – get the impression no one cares about the people stuck between the LOC – currently researching the ‘Pahari-cultural-heritage’ outside political and territorial paradigms and the narratives of the political ‘mainstream’. Ultimately, hoping to create a space for members of the British-Pahari community to discover their own wonderful heritage. I believe – ‘life’ is a wok in progress so nothing is fixed even our thoughts! If you’re from the region, feel free to contact me – always prepared to widen my intellectual horizons and stand corrected – don’t insult me though. Be grown up and tell me why you think I’m wrong. If you make sense, I’ll change my views.

My opinions are not necessarily those of the Portmir Foundation; the Foundation does not do censorship; if you disagree with any us, and you’re from our background, write your own opinion piece and we’ll publish it. You can contact us at info@portmir.org.uk.

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