Human-interest stories always fascinate me. I love the power of emotions. The sanctity of sentiments. Truthfulness of soul. There is hardly any evidence of this mix in my native land – Kashmir. Though the place is beautiful and so are most its people, physically. However their spirits are often not too beautiful. I cannot take their artificial beliefs. The chicanery they harbor. Hang me for it but I have this brew of affection and aversion for them. Most of them – and that leaves out a small chunk – will talk to you cleanly, like the sharp edge of a knife. Cold and hot at once.
Nevertheless there are instances when one cannot help sketch a smile at the sparkling residues of humanity that still exist in the valley. I was happy to learn people are still good at heart and don’t necessarily view everything through the blinkered lens of religion. When people realize that the indifference to other cultures doesn’t always work. That’s when the spirit of goodness rises and suffuses over every thing small and stupid.
Some things do actually gladden hearts. Here…a news-item, re-produced from Greater Kashmir – Dated June 14, 2006 -- Kashmir’s best English newspaper. (Another matter it is far too mediocre in its style and presentation).
There were no OB vans, none from the army of photojournalists and no security bandobast either. Although sombre, the scene was still heartening—it was Muslims mourning death of an aged Kashmiri Hindu woman.
They outnumbered the Hindus or Pandits at the funeral of Shamoin Gigoo, 81, wife of late Sham Lal, who breathed her last on Monday evening at her residence at Indra Nagar, Srinagar.The Muslims stood calm at the Karan Nagar cremation ground as Ramesh Kumar Gigoo, the eldest son of Mrs Gigoo lit the pyre.
Yesterday it was the family friends, majority of them Muslims, who stood by the Gigoos in their hour of grief, and arranged for the funeral. In turn, the bereaved family, took due care of religious obligation of the Muslim mourners of offering Namaz. The cremation on Tuesday was deferred from 12 pm to 2.30 pm. Later, amidst sighs and sobs Shamoinee was consigned to flames as per the Hindu tradition.
About 50,000 Pandit families migrated to Jammu and many parts of India when anti-India uprising broke out in the Valley in 1990. But the Gigoos, like 7,000 other Pandits comprising 1,600 families, still live in the Valley. The Muslim friends had counseled late Sham Lal and his wife to stay put. “They were reluctant to leave their homeland, they were very nice people,” many mourners said.