Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The three tenors

Top cops in Kashmir would be a little less antsy tonight. The assistant commissioner of police, City, was still sleeping when I called him a moment back. The fugitive at large, one who dished out mini CD upon mini CD in flawless Urdu, calling for revolution, was finally nabbed at his maatamal (mother’s folk’s home) yesterday. Heck, Maatamal has been a weakness with Kashmiris. Conversantly when dour teachers (who used to be called master jee’s in good old days) wanted to pull you up for being too chatty with your bench-mate, often invoked thus: Khala ji ka ghar samaj ke rakha hai kya [Is this your mom’s sister’s home?] So quite Omar Mukhtar-style they descended from all directions and bundled away the runaway robin from his Maatamal.

Notwithstanding the sudden harud (autumn) loss the melody isn’t expected to stop. The three tenors are getting ready in Delhi. The home ministry is expected to have a quick rap session with the interlocutors before they land in Srinagar in an effort to get everyone talking to them. Whether on not Kashmiris talk to them is un-germane. Radha is the most elegant of the lot. She has grey hair and a kind heart. Padgoankar loves foie gras (duck liver pate) and all things French (they gave him the Legion D’Honneur a few years back). Ansari, an Aligarh alumni and ex-IGNOU professor, revels in discussions on economics of human resources and education. Anyone can go talk to them. They don’t bite.

Along with Bhim Singh (the indomitable Rajput who rode around the world on his motorcycle in the late 60’s a la Che Guvevara) LK Advani is pretty upset with Omar’s recent assembly speech. A psyched out BJP usually means advantage home turf. However there has been a mixed reaction to Abdullah-III’s now famous turn of phrase: ‘We acceded. We didn’t merge.’ While Bhim Singh et al have reasons for being jumpy, the separatists aren’t much pleased too. So in keeping with the tradition of spoiling the party for National Conference, the padre of resistance, clad in a gown he has gotten much fond of, uttered the ‘Emperor-has-no-clothes’ lexeme: Oh, and Omar’s speech was scripted in Delhi.

Ironically many say that BJP felt more slighted when someone told them that the somewhat suggestively-named National saffron mission wasn’t infact what they thought it to be. The mission was a Rs 370 crore grant to Kashmir aimed to enhance production of the golden crop of Zafran (saffron). Party workers had bought crackers surmising that a large chunk of Kashmiris had finally understood the futility of throwing stones and shall soon be lining up to join the saffron mission – of abrogating Article 370. BJP now believes that there is something sinister about the amount of grant money of Rs 370 crore. It reminds them of the avowed dislike of Article 370.

On a more nostalgic note October reminds me of autumn. Fall in Kashmir is pleasant. The airs change as if touched by the flapping feathers of a bottle-green angel on his way to the moon. There is mild breeze in the mosque spires, the undulating nets of fisher folk and the quiet branches of the majestic oaks. The leaves, an angry shade of crimson, fall off the trees in abandoned Hindu temples to strew the ground beneath. It is also time to reap the rice crop. The sight is the most breathtaking -- neat rows of assiduous men and women, hunched back, collecting their fruits of labor. They sing songs of love, joy and bounty together. Trousers tucked. Aloud. Hip to hip. Sermons can stay hinged upon mosque knobs sometimes.

The blue-necked cuckoos don’t stop purling. Even in conflicts.

© Sameer