I have grown up in the maze of barbed wire, in curfewed days and nights, amidst clatter and whoosh of tear gas. Listening to spraying of bullets to bangs of explosives.
My movement, communication, assembly has been proscribed from time to time and the very sustenance of life like the air I breathe, the food, milk, medicine has been cut off.
Cut off by the “worlds largest democracy.”
It is like someone has wrapped a noose on my head leading me, nowhere, with a Gun on my temple. It is the story of Kashmir. But all these are periodical upsurges that may fizzle out with time, all you need is wait, wait and wait. And perhaps like in the past, there will be imposed normalcy and government propaganda machine going up and saying, “ everything is fine. Life is back to normalcy.” And all the months will go underneath a new commotion and will lurk there only to be resurfaced.
As a child when I should have been in cradle, I was in a coffin.
As a child when I should have been on father’s shoulders, I was in a soft little grave.
When I should have been chased by friends, I was chased by bullets, tear gases.
As a child have smelled flowers and chased butterflies, I smelled burning houses and chased processions.
As a child when I should have blew spit bubbles, I had a gurgle of blood.
As I child when I should have seen cluster of stars, I was blinded by pellets
As a child I learnt:
A for Army, AZADI, AFSPA, Afzal is alive
B for Bullet, BOMB, Blood
C for Curfew, Catapult, check post, Cargo, crackdown, Collateral Damage
D for Death, Disappearances
E for Encounters
F for Firing, frisking
G for Gun, Graveyard, Graffiti
H for Hartals
I for Identity card, IED, informers, interrogation centres
J for, JIHAD
K for Kalashnikov
L for LMG
M for Martyr, Maimed, Mad, mid –night knock syndrome, Mistaken Identity
N for nocturnal raid
O for Orphan
P for PAKISTAN, PSA, Pellet, Pain, PAPA 2
R for, Rape
S for Stone –pelting, spies, STF
T for Tear gas, torture chamber, Terrorism
U for Unidentified Gunman
V for Violence
W for War, widow
and XYZ – The infinite nameless mass graves of Kashmir
And My School what was it like?
Roll no 1: Killed in “collateral damage”
Roll no 2:Protesting
Roll no 3: In I.C.U. with bullet in the head
Roll no 4:Booked under P.S.A
Roll no 5:In jail for suspicion
Roll no 6:Went to Play, didn’t return ever
Roll no 7:His someone has been killed in protests
Roll no 8:Lost his vision due to pellets
Roll no 9: Picked up arms due to harassment, humiliation, oppression.
Roll no 10: Hiding from police
Roll no 11: Writing this
This is me. I mean we.
I am distressed because you talk of solutions while denying realities. You talk of giving me inducements in the form of something that is frivolous infront of what I yearn for. I belong to the generation of young people who have grown up like ivy; snaking, curling up the house, whose windows now lead to darkness, doors to death, and where ghosts of death collude to kill life. There are a cobweb of checkpoints, bunkers, army camps and interrogation centres gazing with the sulky eyes, blinding my countrymen. Where one stumbles upon puddle of spies, informers, unidentified gunman and beneath all this, the humiliations and brutalization on daily basis and indignity that is heaped on people living under more than half a million troops.
The blood stains dripping on its walls, the graffiti’s of past-present and future leads you from room to room amidst labyrinth of dark alleys, stairs of death, rooms of buried secrets, roofs of pain, screams of swollen cupboards,and courtyard and backyard of corpses.
This house is Kashmir. And the house in which I grew up never became my home. When will it? I am a child who has grown up in a conflict zone and by now you must have understood why I am the way I am…
Don’t you think I deserved right to live my life the way I wanted to? Who occupied my life, my thoughts, my childhood…my everything..who?