In the summer of nineteen ninety two volcanoes had erupted, the idyllic childhood lost the right to mischievousness everywhere in my warn-torn, troubled, beautiful valley. Yes, the valley about which the fourth Mughal king, Emperor Jahangir chanted in euphoria, ‘if there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.’ The mystic land of rishis and sufis, the learned brahmans and the kind-hearted Badshah (great king), where serene breeze flowing with delicate fragrance of tulips and jasmine welcomes the tender rays of morning sun conjuring up the silhouettes of snow clad mountains forming artistic massive shades standing guard against sizzling summer, and guileful aggressor.
The crystal clear waters of pristine lakes- Dal, Nigeen and Wular add to the beauty and natural grandeur of valley that holds in pride the lush green meadows of Gulmarg and Pahalgam, celebrated Shalimar and Nishat gardens which create an anesthetizing atmosphere, an aura, where tranquillity pervades sensuousness, pain dissipates and happiness transcends worries, permeating through human faculties, forcing one to realise the bounty and mercy of nature and its exalted existence. If parallels are drawn, my land stands in comparison, I will out of unbound affection favour the besotted title of ‘paradise’, which describes the bride like characteristics of my land, courteous people, but with heartache and unleashed fear, atrocities, repression over my brethren by all and sundry before and since nineteen ninety two, I suggest ‘Kashmir’ most appropriately not be compared with any people or land. We are the most resilient of all, most bruised of all, we spilled blood like none other, suffered like none other. Some one hundred thousand people of my land rest in graves since nineteen ninety two. It makes no sense of joy, pleasure, beauty and abundance when bewilderment and uncertainty embitters life, when all the time survival follows the fear of loss, when struggle for sustenance attenuates passion for existence, when death call it quits all benign deeds of life, anytime.
He is a man in early forties, all grey, looking wrinkly, chain smoker, and elder son of my grandfather-Abba. My uncle in late thirties has imitated all these sounding features of Abba. He is a man whom I know intimately, how he struggled through life, pulling it out every time, running hither and thither every dark night, fearing iron hands of our heartless masters. My family is a traditional one. We live with our grandparents, uncles, aunts and baba- Hajisahab, who nicknamed me ‘Gooda.’ Sir I am Aijaz Hussain Malik, every time I was asked to prove my identity, these three words would flow uninterrupted out of my lips. At times Abba would forcefully advise to avoid full name and just mention gooda when asked by security forces, sounds funny when security means insecurity actually. Now it sounds ridiculous, but it worked well most of the times, difficult to be imagined by non-Kashmiris, especially when during ‘crackdowns’ forces would pick the strongest among gathered lot for search operations. Let the hapless die. No one not even the parents of those youth dared to object, it meant landing our dears into grave trouble if we objected, bad vibes of being sympathisers would add fuel to furious fire of cynics, and torture…. It sends shivers through my spine when I bethink my uncle during those crackdowns.
Every interrogation/torture took a heavy toll of his young years, now suffering from multiple ailments… tears! A young soul in old complexion, as I see him, a belt always supporting his waist. Suppression knows no relations, no age nothing! In any occupied land name and face at times decide the fate of the person; truth never sans authentication, concoction requires justification. Abba very judiciously managed us during the years of turmoil and some bitter memories bring me more closer to him, uncle and baba, when in retrospect I bring to mind their survival and narrow escape from the clutches of death many times. One day I, Abba and grandma were on our way to Soura Medical Institute when suddenly a grenade on other side of the road exploded missing its target, injuring civilians, non-combatants and innocents. The attackers in such instances would never care of public health. The subsequent chaos, ferocity of armed uniformed men showering bullets from all sides, charging wildly at people like devouring beasts, left Abba with no other option but to run for his life. I was a child just in second year of second decade of my life, sure not to be harmed by forces, or thinking of being hit by a bullet, I held on tightly grandma’s hand, crying, hysterical, frightened for dead lying unaddressed, such was the scene. Grandma thought I saved her life, after savagery was over.
It was actually she who saved me. She now rests in eternity. But the memories of that bloody day continue to haunts me until now. It was like test of responsibility, either Abba had to care for grandma and receive unwarranted batons, may be bullets, leave her alone to be trampled and take me along or let me decide the future course. It was not being planned, it was sentimental way of deciding unimagined where I would take my share of responsibility quickly, logically and successfully, otherwise in such instances one would think only of oneself. This incident is just a single paragraph of the whole horrible account of our lives. It is very difficult to stain paper with your emotions when blood pours in tears while you painfully visit the troubled past. Minds poisoned with thoughts of fear, worry, anxiety and gloom are killers of ambition, success, happiness and peace of mind. My past conforms to every word of Bremer expression.
What have you known of loss that makes you different from other men? (Gilgamesh)
Author is a student at the Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia and can be mailed at email@example.com