Thursday, July 08, 2010

What next?

Our sorrows will never be sad enough
Our lives will never be important enough
~Arundhati Roy

Kashmir is a beautiful cage this morning. The inhabitants behind the grilles are strung out and edgy. Their luxury of innocence has been taken away. A peek through a crack in the windowpane can invite a ‘stray’ bullet. There is no venturing out of the home-cages. The bylanes are fitted with death-traps that resemble mousetraps. And they have been put in place in Srinagar and Sopore and Anantnag and elsewhere. We have become the townmouse and the countrymouse, like the Aesop fable.

There are curfewed dawns and curfewed noontides and curfewed evenings. Hazarding a guess – whether it is full moon or moonless tonight – is impossible. Our gaze has been curfewed over. Ill tempered spectres prowl about in the backyards. And there is no sound except jackboots mashing something, someone on the curfewed road. The sick can’t cry. A girl, from north Kashmir, withering with stomach ache, died in the wagon while her aged father tried to convince the mechanical creatures ‘imposing’ the curfew to let them pass. In utter vain.

Is the dead girl a martyr? A martyr as in bullet and blood martyr, we know not. The supremely disconnected TV anchors, sitting in plush studios in New Delhi, perhaps know better. There is a bespectacled host, son of an ex-army officer, who in particular knows all the answers. He is the Bill O'Reilly of the silly Indian TV circus. His mouth turns in such a disgusting manner that every phrase he manages to mutter comes out phoney. It is lame and dumb. And it comes from the ‘free’ media of the world’s most orotund democracy.

There are no newspapers on newsstands in Kashmir today. The local press has been curfewed over. Their pens rendered unsuitable. Dissent and debate is part of a democracy. While India's self-righteous leaders never fail to highlight its democratic credentials, they remain ignorantly indifferent to the misery of more than six million people, who have been cooped inside one of the world's biggest prisons. The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime, Max Stirner the German philosopher once averred.

One wonders what is next: What after the curfew outlasts its utility? What after the last flag march has been conducted? What after the doors of the cage are re-opened? What after the last guard goes away? What after the last body is fished out? What after the inferno burns out? What after your scream solders onto my scream?

A long wordless hug. Zero-tolerance. Probe. Mid-terms. What?

© Sameer