You are cruel


Heart, you are cruel, pining for something out of your reach

I wait and feel you longing, I dream for you, you dream about things not meant for me

I dream about things long lost to time

Heart, you are a mess. And you need to go, stop feeling, stop hurting

Do me a favour and just beat.

Those you want are deaf to you, nothing can bring back lost time

Remember the tears and the cries of early days, remember it to keep away from the pain.

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Moments


I can’t help but look back to some moments

Which have passed and I think

What joy and colour they brought to life and what misery they spread now

It’s dark and it’s cold in the memory lane as the moments I once cherished turned sour with time.

I thought I was well versed in conversations, and yet when it was time for a test

I failed.

And my experience failed me.

Never wanting to go through the pain, but even you failed me.

I have loved you enough to let you go.

God is my witness, I will love you enough to see you forget me, as I saw you walk away

Memories have a funny way of opening wounds (some days are better),

Deep wounds that do not bleed but keep on breathing, and you breathe with them.

Alive. In my memory. Within moments that turned sour with time.

I recall. And yet I cannot recall.

When I Google Kashmir


It is truly sad and tragic that when I Google Kashmir, it’s no longer a tourist destination

When I Google Kashmir pictures, I see barbed wires on desolate streets

When I search for home, all I see are empty, vacant eyes which greet the camera lens from behind the drawn curtains

When Google shows results, it’s a sad page of many stories

A war-torn region? No. It’s a blackout and an example of inhumane methods of hypocrisy

The stories shared, some are lies and some are portrayed as lies.

I read them anxiously, hoping the better ones are the new reality

Looking, with longing in my eyes, for a message, a sign that my family is alive

So when I Google Kashmir, the lonely Lal Chowk greets me, tells me of woes of people back home

Suppressed voices, oppressed back of tired, torn Indian citizens.

People of Kashmir, dying a slow death, choking on air made toxic by forces nobody understands.

Kashmir is an issue which needs to be heard


The Realisation:

Hidden in the lies of history, written in stone by men made of straw,

Hollow men, selfish men,

Men who tore apart this country for nothing

Is the realisation that we are all doomed

Doomed to carry the burden of being an outsider in our own home

I did not want to write about this but seeing as we are entering Day whatever (I am not keeping count now) of communication blackout in Kashmir, it is important to highlight the sadness and the lack of humanity in the situation. Instead of focussing on the political aspect of it which honestly affects a handful of people while the rest of the population suffers, I want to talk about how, to a common Kashmiri, this lockdown has affected.

Isolation is what every Kashmiri across the country feels at the moment. People in Kashmir have been isolated inside while the rest have been locked out.

Lakhs of people have been cut off from their families. Eid was a solemn affair. One can only imagine what people in Kashmir are doing without Internet or basic communication services.

Imagine, yourself in their shoes. Internet breaks down for 5 minutes, we reboot the modem 4 times, call our operator at least twice and cuss until it starts working again.

Five minutes.  Now, think about living like that indefinitely with no idea when you will be allowed access to the world. Think about yourself being considered a threat to others to such an extent that you are being isolated from everyone in every way.

Let that sink in.

Coming to my reason for writing this article, Eid came and it went without a phone call from my mother, asking me to get up and offer Eid Namaz, wish me well and cry a little about how much she misses me.

What is worse is the fact that she won’t be able to read this as well.

Now, I realise how much I took that phone call for granted. And I think I have the government to thank for it. Were it not for such drastic measures taken in Kashmir, I would never have realised how much that phone call is important. It is a lesson well learnt. Thank you.

Ever since I became aware of the conflict that Kashmir has been facing even before I was born, I have come face to face with identity crisis. I do not know who I really am, rather what the society expects me to be.

I was born an Indian. However, going into specifics, I was also born in Kashmir, a land torn with conflicts and existential crisis. Being a Kashmiri makes me less of an Indian? Or more of an abomination?

I do not want to prod that wound yet. We are far from there. However, the crisis Kashmir faces today is a cause for concern.

I am not a political person and I do not wish to make this article into one. My main issue from Day 1 has been the complete blindsiding of the people of Kashmir while deciding their fate in Parliament.

Whatever the reason our government came up with for abrogating Article 370, I am fully convinced that the execution was shit.

As leaders of such a huge democratic nation, a dialogue would have been welcome. And if the authorities were so hell bent on pushing this, some transparency would have been nice.

Creating confusion and panic among people who have lived like that for so many years was pure cruel.

Article 370 affects me as a Kashmiri but personally, I couldn’t care less because in the entire mayhem which has been going on for so many days now, I have not been able to talk to my family.

Not exaggerating when I say this, I feel like an orphan. My mother is not able to contact me. From calling me thrice a day, with countless WhatsApp messages, we have not heard each other for so long. Please tell me how this is good for our nation, if a select few are being asked to make such a huge sacrifice.

I have been losing sleep because I am afraid for my mother living in fear and tension.

The land is the same, the hearts are the same. The division is in our minds. My home Kashmir is being treated as a taboo, something spoken in hushed voices over tea during lunch breaks in office.

Let me paint a picture of Kashmir.

Kashmir has been called a paradise on Earth, and it is rightly so. It is a place where even the most majestic views can be seen from one’s kitchen window. You can see stars, which are hardly ever visible in the metropolitan city.

The air is light and breezy. It touches your face with such a warm embrace that feels like a warm hug. The Dal Lake and the shikaras, the barbecue, and the ice cream they serve in Buhur Kadal, the locally made parathas the size of Captain America’s shield, everything is amazing.

The entire valley is breathtaking around Spring time and in winter, the warmth of the hamam and the exciting snowfall makes you feel cozy and at peace.

The place is poetic. But the air in Kashmir, while so refreshing, is always ominous.

You may already know why I say so.

Given the recent panic and hysteria over the uncertainty caused by the speculation over sending additional troops to the valley, Article 35A, cancelling Amarnath Yatra, advisory to tourists to run for their lives, increased border patrol, it has come to mind that Kashmir is bracing for another months-long conflict.

Conflict is not new to a Kashmiri. We have become immune to this word. Other words to throw in the bunch include curfew, firing, bullets, grenades, tear gas, blasts, and IED. A Kashmiri child grows up with these words. And with it, gets insensitive to such horrors.

I do not wish to digress, but given my present state of mind, it is important to provide context lest you are a person who does read a lot of news and is up to date.

At the moment, Kashmir feels like a prison.

I am afraid to speak my mind about Kashmir lest I be taken as an anti-nationalist or a pro-Pakistan person since I am a Kashmiri Muslim.

Yes, it is a difficult time to be alive for someone like me. I have a tag on my forehead and I carry it around my country where I am conveniently pointed out as one who is different, to be given a wide berth. Someone with whom a regular Indian would be hesitant to talk to.

But that is a story for another time.

Tree


One day you decided that it was over, stuck to one line we promised one another when we met

It seems like ages ago, I agreed to your words for little did I know what seed I had sowed

And so the tree grew, and we grew with it, branching away, flowering from spring to spring

Until you remembered the promise you made, and you forgot the nurturing, the effort and the growth

Cut off the branch and let it fall, fall down to the damp moss on the ground

Bleeding it lay, there, hoping you’d realise what you’d done. .

Broke my spirit, you broke my heart

For something you said when little things mattered

And it felt like a trap that after so many winters and so many Summers

It would be as if nothing had passed, the seed didn’t really sprout

And maybe it was just a dream, wishful thinking if you will

That you loved me, some days and other days I was not worth fighting for

The tree is decaying, the Sun has stopped smiling and it’s always cold, always raining

The tree weeps and so does the sky

Writing eulogies over a chapter I had once promised never to end