Project Description

Berang Kohdomani is a poet who was born in Afghanistan and started his career in the Department of Folklore and Culture. He was later appointed a lecturer in the Faculty of Literature at the University of Kabul. From 1989 to 1991, he was based in Tajikistan working for the Academy of Science in matters related to literature. He has lived in London since 1995 with his wife and five children. He has had many collections of poetry published including: ‘Greeting to Corn Poppies’, ‘Spiritual Meaning of Words’ and ‘The Bitter Chapter of God’. He has also published ‘The Birth of the Sun’, a collection of contemporary Afghan poetry, ‘Towards the Sun’, a collection of Latin American poems and ‘Morning Ballads’, a selection of Latin American short stories.

In the Name of Kabul
Translated by Suhaila Ismat and Jennifer Langer

My presence is here but
My heart is in the alley-ways of Kabul
My tongue utters its name
My lips sing a song of Kabul
The trees are shrouded in inky-blue,
Years, months, weeks, days, mourning Kabul
Oh traveller! Traverse my town silently
For in mourning is Kabul
He who is cognisant with its streets, its palaces
Murmurs ‘Where am I?’ Kabul
Oh God, you who are both benevolent and wrathful,
Your munificence is disposed elsewhere
Your anger is vented on Kabul
Mother of Rostam undeserving of this cruelty
Undeserving of this affliction, Kabul
It complains, screams, shouts, this was not pre-ordained.
Dark days, dark times
Sombre days, the destiny and misery of Kabul
Only the plant of sadness grows in the deserts of its memories
Mourning is the morning of Kabul, sadness is the night of Kabul
All adventures are with beginning and end
An adventure without conclusion is Kabul
The Hand of God must surely intervene
The hand of Satan powerless to relieve the agony of Kabul
The living are miserable and wretched
The sorrowless are the deceased of Kabul
Died before their time, without healer, without remedy
The sick children and orphans of Kabul
It should be released from destruction and annihilation
My permanence, your permanence, is the permanence of Kabul
At dawn, the water-seller carries his empty goat-skin
He dreams of water, the water-seller of Kabul.
From annihilation, liberate Kabul
Let its citizens survive.
If I live out all my days, so too surely will Kabul.
The yellow leaves of the tall and gracious poplar
Rise up – a hand praying for Kabul.
Years, months, weeks of destruction How can you destroy it?
From the dawn of time, God was omnipresent in Kabul.
As tyrants Yazed and his followers spill the blood of innocents
Oh Hassan, oh Hassan, is this the Karbala of Kabul?
The Taliban surged forth, broke down the gateways of knowledge, the windows of learning
They who are illiterate, now become the spiritual teachers of Kabul.
We are plunged into the abyss of the Stone Age
The painters of vanity now emerged as leaders of Kabul.
Dah Afghanan transformed into the abode of strangers
The age is sliding relentlessly backwards, these are dark days for Kabul.
Dahsavaz now the grazing land of primitive beings
The advantaged are the heathens of Kabul.
In Zandabanan every second the keepers of life await death
Alas, my poem is an elegy for Kabul.
Dah Mazang and Baghqazi, Shahernow with Takhtapol razed to the ground
All these places obliterated, The Jeljta of Kabul.
Soil and ashes overlay Pamanor and Chindawol
A celebratory place, it once was
Now transformed into purgatory for God’s people of Kabul.
This avenging sky spilling the blood of the innocents
The descendents of Ashaquan and Arifan of Kabul
Unyielding sky, even Mount Asmaye has relinquished its pride
Wise statesmen degenerated to beggars of Kabul
From Polmastan, joyful voices no longer heard
Grief, disappointment, moans, pain – commonplace in Kabul
Shaher-I-Ara, Bagh-I-Bala, Dah Dana, Chil Soton
Their tears flow constantly beneath the feet of Kabul
Where is Ghobar, where is Khalili, what the fate of Hazret Shaiqu
Ashquari in his grave yearns for Kabul.
Kocha-I-barana rain no longer falls
Wearing impure garments is Khowja Safa of Kabul
Joie Sheer the stream of blood, Bala-I-Hesar location of lamentation
Looting, slaughter, fear reside in the house of Kabul.
Musicians no longer dwell in Kharabat
Before the Judgement Day, observe the punishment of Kabul.
The leader of looters strips bare Afshar
Abode of the poor of Kabul
The alleyways of Khawbgah do not slumber, for everywhere is warring and dread,
Cries and howls emanate from Kabul.
And the back of ‘Peer-l-Boland’ is bent double
Alas! In the robes of Satan is attired Kabul.
The streets of Ahangar forgetful of Kawe the hero
The demon Kohak metamorphosed into King of Kabul
The river of Kabul has shed tears of blood
Oh God! Open your eyes. Swimming in blood is Kabul.
They are embattled in the forests
Armies of anguish, attempting to conquer and destroy Kabul.
From Gozarga marches the army of strangers
Flag and throne crushed underfoot by the enemies of Kabul.
Neither Hindu nor Muslim pass through
Doors of cinemas shut in Kabul.
Destroyed by Jihad and discordance
A judgement laid down to solve the problem of Kabul.
If God one day pours forth his anger on this Earth, spills blood,
That would be the retribution for Kabul.