The psyche of every child in Kashmir is being bruised by one way or other, even a very young child just months old is learning to talk, will soon learn to demand azadi, only this word that he has learned by the children of conflict, this word is freedom.
I am a child, when I raise my hand with a stone firmly griped suddenly experiencing a surge of energy appearing, I do not know its force. When I feel that release of emotion that whirls through my heart with my eyes closed I am blind not realizing that any harm could touch me. Fearless in my aim I revolt! The stone is thrown and now I have become a warrior for the freedom of my soul, for a greater understanding in my heart. I have faced the conflict, and became spiteful. I am an unattractive boy, because I am an aggressive, holding these crumbles of brick in my hand, aiming at policemen, my hands are stained with the brick hue, and my body is bleeding.
I may be a child but a child that has lost a father from a unknown disappearance, never to see or hear his voice or feel his touch ever again, nor have the understanding for why this could happen to such a loving family like mine. Possibly my brother was shot because he just happened to be in the group of protesters on that grey day in March, which quickly became the wrong place at the wrong time, or my family home has been targeted and ram sacked even the ration sacks, leaving a heap of a mess and fear running through my mother and sisters blood. How do I process these feelings how do I really understand who I am? My life has raced ahead of my years and I have been forced to give up my innocence. The thoughts run through my mind trying to understand just how I ended up here, can you tell me how?
Society will look upon me as a loser, render me as hopeless and the more I release, this surge fills me again and again. What will I become, how will I survive this? I have to be strong, I have to block out those feelings of being the victim I have to triumph over such treatment and abuse. I pray, possibly I have to forgive those that have thrust me into this place of life and begin new. Possibly this is my destiny!
As a member of a Kashmiri family my eyes have seen this and my heart has felt some emotion and pain inside if not for my family then for a friends or schoolmates family. This is common and not just a story that is written for entertainment. For a child these such episodes remain on his psyche, burrowing impressions deep inside, soon he has a feeling that he wants to take revenge, his nights become enveloped in thoughts of getting freedom from this reality of such brutal rule, as he has somehow in his life become a part of this game which has left him no right to sleep peacefully. His days are in the process of taking revenge of those brutalities that almost every Kashmiri family has suffered by one way or other. As time goes by this child may be looked upon as hopeless. He has allowed his feelings to come to the surface and one day he pelts a stone at a trooper, he finds this a release and it becomes a way for him to vent his anger, because he is the child of conflict. His hopes are lost, dreams are shattered, and the people who live in his neighbourhood express their empathy and sympathy with him but do nothing to succour him and give him a relief. Yet there always exist the possibility that he could use his daily energies to make a career and with mind and pen find a greater way to resolution. The gun has played its role in the 90s while claiming as many as a thousand lives and left thousands maimed.
The psyche of every child in Kashmir is being bruised by one way or other, even a very young child just months old is learning to talk, will soon learn to demand azadi, only this word that he has learned by the children of conflict, this word is freedom. He keeps chanting this word, even in the mosque after the Friday prayer, and prays that the day will come soon when troopers leave this Kashmir forever, and shall never return.
With these thoughts a youth lead to wreak and spoil his life, his mother keeps an eye on him, enquiring from him, before leaving and after arriving home, mothers’ are scared in Kashmir, they won’t allow their wards to fall the prey of bullet. But at the same time they can’t hold them back to face the wrath, they want them to live a life of decency, where there is freedom to exercise their right to life. Irony is that children of my land are rendered either jobless or to do menial work at the various workshops or bakery shops, at the tender age when they must hold the pen in their hands and live a life of dignity and respectful, because they too have right to live, marriage and education. Don’t snatch the rights from them, and don’t curse them of being children of conflict. The time has come for change!!
PS: On the children day, Farha and Nahida asked me why you are sad? Altaf. I told them in my reply that on this day children must be at schools but I have seen them at various places across the Srinagar city, few were at hotels, motels and few at workshops, working, and washing luxurious cars and costly cutlery. We cannot have coffee and let the child serve us at hotel, we can at least contribute towards the society by way of helping those families where children are unable to study and poverty has lead them disadvantaged because of the conflict. Wake up and rethink!
Author is a student of International Relations (peace and conflict studies) at Islamic university of sciences and Techonology, Awantipora. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org