The Perfect Prince of Paradise


The Perfect Prince of Paradise

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré


here is a song that plays often at Kashmiri weddings and nearly every day on Radio Kashmir. “Naad ha laaye, miyaan Yusufo walo (I am calling out for you, O my Yusuf, come home)”. It is a haunting melody that was written by Kashmir peasant princess and poet Habba Khatoon 400 years ago. In this song, she’s aching for the return of her lover Yusuf Chak, the dashing ruler who fought for an autonomous Kashmir and died for it.

In recent times, the young, exiled king has become a symbol of the state’s lost glory – and Habba Khatoon’s futile search for Chak has become a metaphor for its constant political predicament.