In Memoriam (July 2018, Muslim Peace Memorial, Woking, Surrey, UK) © 2018
The saplings are reflected, shimmering in the pool, the calm shallows rippling;
A little white bird flies suddenly, spectral.
In this calm and lonely park, in this quiet coppice, the marble tablet glows with that long roll of names;
your name is on it, too, dear uncle Sikandar, along with the rest of that gallant band from two great wars.
So what praise or eulogy can I offer you all? What plaudits may I sing?
That are nobler than your deeds, that outshine or outlive your ultimate sacrifice,
that brought you marching to those foreign shores, so far from your homes?
By your ancestral hearths you are not forgotten – some sing of you in the verses of Khushal Khan, some in the ballads of Mirza and Dullah’s strains, rising up to the glistening stars on glorious wings;
In our hearts you are alive forever and in our children’s hearts and in the rushing swiftness of the rills that plunge down from the snowy hills.
Yet, there are conflicting emotions too: sorrow, that we cannot stand by your headstone and say a Fatiha and lay down fresh flowers each day; and acceptance, that your courage carried you so far , to grace England with your clan’s honor and your name.
In my mind, I ultimately see you now as an eternal wanderer of English verse, the eardstapa,
far beyond all exile and mortality, forever alive and forever at peace, striding those woods,
your countenance shining with a soft ethereal light.