By Aadil Langoo
Today the All Party Delegation of Indian politicians arrived in Srinagar, Indian-held-Kashmir, with both hope and despair. Hope that somehow they will revive the peace, resolve the unresolved, and heal the festered wounds. Despair, as they carry the same cold nationalist look they have been carrying over the years.
The day passed uniquely- a day which comes once in years and unhinges and unveils many things. However, like rest of the days I woke up lazily, with drowsiness even after my breakfast. I offered prayers and read a few verses of the Holy Quran. At about 11 am I resumed my reading; I have been reading 1984 by George Orwell. While reading, suddenly from nowhere there was the news of killings in Sopore. There had been firing on protestors and a few of them were killed. Probably dreams would also have been! They were rushed to SKIMS hospital and were in need of blood. As I live close to the SKIMS, I called my mother and told her that I will be back in just half an hour, and rushed. On my way, I found people marching towards the hospital. They looked tired and gloomy.
There is a big military base in the hospital. As I was hurrying, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) man was looking coldly at people from behind the barricade. He was a black, horrific with big moustaches. No person, no matter how hard he/she tried, could make about him an innocent face.
I felt bizarre; a voice reached my ears, with a smell of innocence, saying, “I didn’t kill them. I have four children. All daughters. Poona, older one has crossed the marriage age. I don’t have dowry to marry her off. Seta, the youngest, has her skin peeled off, she doesn’t have milk. My wife, Lakshmi, has Tuberculosis and a doctor at government hospital refused to provide medicine after knowing my Dalit caste. My house was devastated in the floods; we cover ourselves with blankets- a United Nations aid. I have been pushed to be here. Don’t abhor me.”
My heart throbbed and popped out. I sped. When I reached at the entrance of the emergency ward, I saw people of every sort- young, old, women, men, and drooping, mournful, angst, restless. I saw women wailing, elegizing. There were bruised faces, ripped clothes and bare chests. Someone told me that one of the women is the mother of a victim.
I tried to enter into the room where the victims were but security guards did not allow me, but I gave a slip, and entered. I saw a blood-bathed body among many others lying on a bed, in a corner. “Murderous proves innocence by being murdered,” painted on the bed. Perhaps that little boy with pinkish face, brown eyes has proved. Sometimes it takes a lot to prove, rather it demands. Somewhere in the other room, there was uproar, for a doctor was beaten up for delaying in attending the victim. People were angry, but from whom? Due to the doctors or the wretched souls, breathing their last? Blame was also on victims, why couldn’t they remain inside? Why to come on streets and demand freedom? I mean why freedom. Is it worth dying? Aren’t they rational?
Someone told me that his mother had advised him not to move out and he had replied, “do you want me to strangulate?” Is Sopore oxygen deficit? Nay! Then, why strangulation? I kept on thinking. Thoughts like these befitted my mind with pain.
As I moved close to the victim, my foot came on a bump and when I looked, I saw a bag, a school bag. It was a green bag with, “don’t mess with me I smear you with ashes” written on it. It belonged to him as I came to know later.
I managed in a jammed emergency ward to get some space where I could sit. I opened the bag and took a notebook, it read, “my name is UBAID and I live in Kashmir.” It further read, “Kashmir has snow; snow is white and white is the symbol of peace so Kashmir is peace.” It was for history, and my victim, my friend was in class 10. On the page 4, there was a topic, written artistically with cursive style, “IMPERIALISM.” He might have understood it, I thought. Somewhere, it was written that we had been colonized by British for about 200 years, but someone had overwritten the word “We” as “India”. There I felt dejection and my victims riddle too. I saw a tattoo of Spiderman and Batman on it and Hulk Hogan- the wrestler. When I was about to close the notebook, on the cover page, there was a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and a quote “Truth alone Triumphs”. I think my victim would have said, if alive, “Might alone Triumphs”.
I lost my strength and couldn’t move. Why did not the building collapse, what if bullets pierced our heads too. I longed, for the first time in my life, for death. For death could at times heal and make one indifferent.
Somehow, I mustered courage and moved. I took long strides and was in the corridor. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked behind and found the same CRPF man with his sick wife and a little girl. They looked gloomy with torn clothes and their eyes full of miseries. I saw a little hump on the girl’s neck; it was a goiter. Her eyes were sunken. She too had a pink face. She looked a sibling to the blood-bathed boy.
The name of the CRPF personnel was Bharat Sharma. He was from Bihar or from Uttar Pradesh or from Rajasthan or from whole India. His parents had lived in abject poverty. They owed 25000 rupees to microfinance and were not able to pay for last 10 years. The company used to beat drums around their slum, whenever they came for recovery. Freeing themselves from disgrace, they committed suicide. They were farmers. It had been three years without monsoon then. Bharat’s grandfather, Shankar, was a house servant of a British family. He was a slave.
Perchance they have always been in the clutches of slavery and if anything changed, it was the form. It changed from the household to a bank and from bank to the state. Sharma was perhaps a modern legal slave of nation. Perhaps it is all slavery of need and food. They cried bitterly. I could not conceive why I was indifferent. Why their wails, tears, wretchedness, compulsion, looked artificial? Why was I cold towards them? How could, a mild person like me, be apathetic to them. Our mind is certainly an enigma. It sometimes does not comprehend the way it ought to. It refuses to acclaim what eyes could see, things that are as understandable as killing by bullets, bullets from gun, and the gun in the hands of Bharat Sharma. Why does it bolt the window of humanity at times?
Suddenly a throng of people pushed me. I found myself in the corridor being pushed toward the exit door. CRPF man was nowhere. I ran towards home. I crossed the empty road where policemen were patrolling the emptiness. My friends called me but I closed the flaps and ran fast. At home, after sometime, I resumed my reading again and stopped- at a point where Winston accepts that War is peace, Ignorance is strength and Slavery is freedom– a teardrop wetted the word Freedom.
The author is a student of Bussiness Administration at University of Kashmir.