Author: Saadut
•8:28 PM


          Kashmir never seems to be out of news and these days the turmoil period has hit another peak. Life has virtually come to stand still. All these days death has been keeping a virtual constant date in the valley and this cycle of violence brings no good news. While there is no accountability for the barrel, the stones are duly accounted and audited for by the administration. How pathetic is a mindset that refuses to give value to innocent lives, hide behind a power veil and speak arrogance on broadcast & print. It may not unnerve them but every time an innocent is killed, the wound within the Kashmir psyche become virtually more ‘un-heal able’. 
          
          All around there is a noise that I can make nothing of. The sounds echo all around me but fail to make any meaning. When you fail to understand and comprehend out of a chaotic noise, from within the unending wails and cries of pain, the mind fails to reason and decide. My voice gets lost in the din of cries that reverberate outside. The procession has grown by now and everybody seems to want to be heard. Overlapping voices, depressing shrills : somebody please translate it, please make some sense of it. Can we have somebody represent us all, a single voice?

I am caged at home and seem to have lost track of which day of the week it is. Every day starts with a bright morning only to wind up in a ‘not much to do with’ dull day, with mind restarting for where it left, searching for reasons, questions, parables and answers; answers I don’t really have. 
          
          I hear a 9 year old has been shot. I try to imagine the fall of the tiny soul but am left with tangled thoughts. Cannot imagine how a human mind could have decided to pull the trigger towards a sapling. I think of the lullabies that his mother would still be used to sing to him. The cradle would still not be shifted to the attic in his home. His questions would have still been responded with smiles and his childish action with joyous awe by parents. At this age childhood is full of bliss, unending joys and innocence. How many of us would want to rewind to that innocent part of our lives where life was not demanding, deceit and sin were unknown vocabulary. 

          All this innocence seems to have trampled by spiked jack boots across my motherland. I could see the same repertoire across in 9 year old, 15 year old, 17 year old : I cannot count them as a number. They are innocence trampled and without guilt. No reasons, no reasons whatsoever!

          With devil having a free run in my home land, my heart is as heavy as lead. I want to speak, to talk to somebody. I call my friend of school days who preferred the relative calm  and opportunities of main land India to the turbulence and choking chambers of the valley. Our school days used to be full of fun and joys, used to share all emotions and thoughts with each other. His migration some decades back along with family and community send us in different directions. My call finds him home watching some ‘gadget tech' show on broadcast media. I talk about the killings in Kashmir, he does not seem much interested. I tell him about teens and children being killed, seems no great news for him as he fixes his mind to the Idiot Box , gadgets and idiotic behavior taking priority over human lives. I drop the call. His perceptions may be very blunt and foggy but the likes of his priorities out there are clear in front of me.

          Seems back home we have to carry our pain and our burden all alone. Friends have been lost out there and those who may have claimed to be ready to nurse our pain have since erased the promises made on rainy day vapor covered glass. It is our individual fight with the evil.

          On a peculiar day I need to attend, got an emergency. I take out from my home and drive taking a secure road but the ghost town haunts me. The cheers of the population, the smiling faces, the rhythm of life in Kashmir has long ago been robbed from its inhabitants. I hear some of it has been exported to the other regions of our land. Some of them, I hear have grown out of our misery. How deceitful! We seem to have become fodder; some say for the roaring cannons, some say for the other mans industrial units. In both the cases we are being consumed, either as a commodity or as a military experiment unit. Who bothers beyond the valley? For them we are nothing but units of trade.

          As I continue to venture out of home, I can only spot men in fatigues, in khaki: strange faces, who stare at you, question you and impose on you  : terrifying gaze. No amount of explaining and reasoning can change the frown on their faces. My social credentials and some print become my passport to move ahead. I move on a deserted road the windows of the houses lined on the side of the road stand still, the window panes motionless. I search for inhabitants but not one in sight. The gardens so well laid are not enjoyed; the lanes where memories have been laid out, the passages where children would reason the play, where every corner had a story to itself were all soulless. I can see life robbed in this beautiful city; where each breath has been subject to scrutiny and censure.

          Back home in the evening I am informed that essentials are running out. I am reminded of a news item that appeared in a local daily about the ordeal of a family whose only bread earner could not bear to see his kids go hungry and decided to venture out with his auto rickshaw to earn some money to feed his family. His effort was met with khaki machismo.  Poor mans earning machine, his rickshaw had been smashed irreparable and the human had been left with broken bones & soul trampled. I wonder if any of the affluent in his neighborhood had bothered to pitch in to help him. I momentarily forgot the demands of my own family. I suppose these stories would have been repeated across the habitations around us.

          I am reminded by my wife that it has been a long time since our daughter had any interaction with school books and that I need to take up the initiative. But seriously while I keep crunching office puzzles day in and day out, I surely have lost touch with school lessons since. I need to teach myself her school lessons first and then only can I do any justice to the re introduction of books with her. I take her books in my hand but my mind is blank. I cannot see anything in these pages, my thoughts have restarted from where they left in the morning searching for reasons, questions, parables and answers; answers I don’t really have.

          I am caged, but my mind refuses to stop searching for answers. My mind does not want to stop the quest, it will continue the search. Is not the end of mind search, the virtual end of life?

          I refuse to be caged; my mind refuses.




Srinagar
27th July 2010