Cumbria Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Steve Whitaker
Literary Editor
7:35 AM 17th February 2024

Poem Of The Week: Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch By Imtiaz Dharker

Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch

Light shakes out the dishrag sky
and scatters the water with sequins. Look, hen!
says my father, Loch Lomond! as if
it were all his doing, as if he owned it,
laird of Lomond, laird of the language.
He is proud to say hen and even more loch
with an och not an ock, to speak
proper Glaswegian like a true-born Scot,
and he makes the right sound at the back
of the throat because he can say khush
and khwah and khamosh, because the sounds
for happy and dream are the words that swim
in the water for him, so he says it again,
Hen! Look! The Loch!

The sky, in Imtiaz Dharker’s fine sonnet of identification and belonging, is a celebrant, breaking free from its grey and maudlin predisposition to dispense the good fortune of chiaroscuro light on the dark waters of Lomond in glittering ‘sequins’.

And if the seamless cultural assimilation of Chaudhri Sher Mobarik is as unexpected as the phenomenon of shafts of sunlight on a ‘dishrag’ day, then the moment is beneficent, a Niagara of grace as heartening as the narrator’s father’s surprised recognition of linguistic consanguinity.

For here, language is the melting point: with the palpable joy of a child, the father discovers an unexpected commonality of words, of shared enunciation, of nuances that are known to two distinct spoken registers, yielding a sudden sense of liberation, of a common home.

Dharker’s use of alliteration, and of phonemes whose proper articulation conveys the subtle distinguishing features of allegiance, renders the father’s tenure freehold, a bearer of the special knowledge of place and culture.

‘Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch’ is taken from Luck Is the Hook, published by Bloodaxe Books (2018), and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publisher.

More information here.