Aching Eyes – Summer Diaries From 2016

Kashmir protest
Mother of Tabish Bhat,16, whose eye was damaged after Indian government forces fired pellets at him during a protest shows his damaged eye as he rests on a hospital bed in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Hospitals in India's portion of Kashmir are overwhelmed, with hundreds of wounded patients pouring in as the region reels from days of clashes between anti-India protesters and government troops. The violence erupted over the weekend after government troops killed a top leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest rebel group fighting Indian rule in the troubled Himalayan region. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)


Yesterday, I woke up in the middle of a night and started writing this because it was possible to write only in the cold, tired silence of night with a caged white light of moon. For me, It is not possible to write when, in daylight, streets become red with the blood of unblossomed youth and dark when pellets are fired in their eyes. When deafening roar of slogans reverberate from loudspeakers of mosques along with songs eulogizing freedom fighters. There is cacophonous silence. Stifled anger, rage. There are tinderboxes of accumulated fury.

My  relatives are in distress. One slapped with PSA and the other maimed with pellets in eyes. He cried on the day when everyone appeared for matriculation exams. He too had his plans of passing this much hyped, “important class” of life. Perhaps he is now in a class of interminable pain and helplessness.It is agonizing to see him just like everyone else who has suffered equally. The pain perhaps binds us and allays our distress. Perhaps.

I have grown up seeing death dancing on the streets like a whirlwind. I have seen people picking up stones, shouting slogans, playing revolutionary songs, writing graffiti in which they speak their hearts out. I have listened to thuds of wood on flesh, on teeth, stifled groan when stomach got kicked and gurgles of blood when ribs were cracked –right to left , left to right, top to bottom, bottom to top.

I have been frisked physically as well as mentally. I am not a terrorist because I don’t terrorize. The presence of more than half a million Indian forces terrorizes me. Yes, they do! Even when I sleep.

My demand for my rights is being conflated with terrorism. I am being labelled, stereotyped. My dissent is what is unbearable to state, unbearable to its stenographers who call themselves journalists, writers, activists. They further help to subvert, divert, misinterpret, misrepresent. They breathe fire and comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Doing opposite of what they are supposed to.

I have been through 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016.. These periodical upsurges fizzled out and passed on as “fleeting law and order problem” but my cold corrosive anger remained underneath, and now again it is resurrected. Though again seeming to lurk beneath the surface to resurface imposed normalcy. Just for time being!
Because underneath I want :
-AZADI Freedom – Nothing less, nothing more.

I know what we mean by it and it is only I who have the right to define it. I know why I am on street. Because I identify with with those who have been killed, I am disenchanted with hollow slogans and false promises of politicians. I know there is more to resistance than throwing stones. I know stone pelting is suicidal. But what shall I do when every form of non-violence  is disrespected? I know I am not a thug. I know I represent myself; my feelings, my aspirations, my vision, my hope. I know my past is my strength and future my hope. I know the moment I forget my past; my present and future will cease to be.
I know why I am glad because I have survived another day in this killing zone. I remember the murdered boys-the color of their shirts, the wrinkled faces of their young fathers lowering them in graves.
I remember because you, India, don’t make it easy to forget. Every killing is a reminder of a previous one. I cannot afford amnesia!  The still, deserted, lifeless, curfew day sat in the lap of night but it couldn’t rest as mid night knock syndromes  knock my sleep.

Besides in the collective grief of people there is a hideous harvest for all Machiavellian manipulative politicians. Their roles change once the power balance changes.  Commenting, pouncing on each death like a vulture on kill.  They grin and chase each other like hyenas to have a lion’s share. Their faceless faces are smeared with blood.
Thus I scribbled these thoughts in a jiffy:

I found vultures nose diving in my mind.
I writhed and pain of wounds was falling on my sleepless eyes.
The horrendous scenes, the burning sights with pangs,
And cries of deceased creatures…,
That all above my head, made me sweat like the ebb and flow of tides.
The vulture had a chick in his beak.
Turning my head on the cold pillow,
I found warm sticky blood beneath my feet
And feathers of chick locked in my dishelved hair.
My lips froze,
From the crevice of the window,
I heard a whisper,
Whispers of death
There was orchestra of mourning
There was a fog of  war

The snowflakes were sailing and turning into embers,
On the roof of my thought, falling with thud on my soul

In this eerie land, even a leaf feared to move,
My heart was pounding, tossing the thoughts,
 Like water in a restless sea,
Sending water from a shore to cliff.

I dared to get my head out of the quilt,
Quilt that was warm inside and cold outside
Rubbing my eyes, I quickly lift quilt to cover my cold back.
Piles of Skulls and skeletons running though streams of blood
The sun, refused to shine
The nightingales and cuckoos became mute
First pistol shot and there came memories rushing with cold metallic bullets.
Sitting on the top of mountain, the moon cried
Lamenting over the loss of calm lake
Many moons crying in puddles of blood
Every house had its one secret puddle
Soon mountains were reduced to pebbles
Rolling in the rivers of blood
Like past rolling in the present
Trees of smoke rose and clouds bent to lap them
Tear gas skidded on black macadam and lightened in sombre sky
Shrouds flew like clouds
I was in a dark, cold room called: Kashmir
And  my  eyes even though open were sightless, aching.
Yet I saw: People it seemed had learned to stop seeing.

Author Bio: Khalid, from Downtown Srinagar, is Pursuing Mass Communication and Journalism at University of Kashmir.
He is an aspiring writer.

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