Mirwaiz Kashmir, OK ex-Mirwaiz, Maulana Muhammad Farooq sits on a cottony cloud island with Abdul Ghani Lone, who used to be a wise lawyer-leader on earth. Scads of grumpy people squat about them, a little distance away.
In Kashmir, the milder version of Hurriyet, commemorates their death anniversaries. In a macabre coincidence both leaders were killed in broad day light on the same day, twelve years apart. Suspicious fingers pointed towards the ‘land of the pure’ on both occasions.
The crowd sitting around the two was also felled. Also in day light. On the same day. The poor sods were cut down by the world’s largest democracy. In earthly skirmishes between the pure and the impure, good people often end up in pools of their own crimson blood.
Mirwaiz: God, Lone saab, I have been dead for what 22 years now.
AG: I was elder to you. 69 years to the day before they pulled the trigger on me.
Mirwaiz: I was just 49 when the young man shot me with an ugly pistol, I still recall.
AG: I didn’t even get to see my assassin while attending the day of your remembrance.
Mirwaiz: Do you have any idea why they took our lives?
AG: I am as clueless as an author finishing his sentence.
Mirwaiz: There is a powerful abruptness about death. Did you feel it?
AG: I was never a preacher like you. I felt swimming in a summer dream.
Mirwaiz: I miss Jamia Masjid. I miss people echoing me, repeating what I said.
AG: I don’t know if they still grow honeysuckle in Dard-Hare, my tiny village.
Mirwaiz: I am told there are other clouds like these with people on them. All fellow Kashmiris.
AG: About 30 countries on earth have population less than 80,000.
Mirwaiz: They are celebrating Martyr’s week in Srinagar.
AG: Everyone is a martyr, Farooq saab. You. Me. These poor people here. Your killers. My assassins, God knows who they are. They too could end up on the martyr roster.
Mirwaiz: Who decides martyrdom?
AG: It is an ideological ferocity. How can one even put it in perspective?
Mirwaiz: A magician once said that the people who have really made history are the martyrs.
AG: There was some magic in all of us but it was tied to some jinx.
Mirwaiz: Ah, Lone saab, I don’t get you always. Who’s the new fellow in that faraway cloud?
AG: No one is allowed to go there. I think some big guy. Some wealthy Arab perhaps.
AG: Aren’t we all?