If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us. ~Hermann Hesse
The Indians totally loathe him. Their counterintelligence footlings in the valley want him to die – either of old age or his heart condition or a pre-dawn fall in the washroom. Sheikh Abdullah’s bracelet-wearing, iPad flashing grandson, who also happens to the modish chief administrator of Kashmir, has no love lost for him. Right wingers in the KP community will give anything to see him guillotined. Our home-grown variety of windbags, boorish beyond question, and often spotted grazing in one of Srinagar’s coffee shops, love to take pot-shots at him [it probably ups their cool quotient].
He is old. Really old. People in Kashmir usually meet their maker at that age. Infact a whole lot of people in their 20’s fell to indiscriminate bullets in the last 20 years, making the median age of a dead man – natural or unnatural – much lower. But the old boy tip-toes all over the mental landscape of his followers and foes alike. He is unafraid while putting forth the most unpalatable things. Makes an eclectic grouping of Indian lawmakers perspire in sheer embarrassment by telling them what no one else has the balls to say: No matter your spin and fake bonhomie, we don’t love you. Period. I mean how upfront can one get.
The media revels in tarnishing him. They call him our naughty neighbor’s hired agent and a devil incarnate. He is a hawk and a vulture, rolled up into one, in most newspaper reports. TV guys love to stick their grimy mikes in his face because he gives them free bytes that keeps them in the show-biz. Yet in private they charge into their well-deserved black forests in cafés with nothing but bitter contempt for the veteran. Local dailies, for the want of a creative alternative, stop at calling him an octogenarian. The vile is widespread.
Ofcourse he makes occasional odd voices. No one is a hermit. He calls OBL a martyr. Nobody should. Since America says the bogeyman drank the blood of innocents and since the big media also says so. And he offers to pray for the world’s most wanted man. Now that is a blasphemy too many. Personally I disapprove. But how can I take the right of a person who wishes to manifest his stance, even if it is advantage Gupkar?
At some point in time people need to be flexible. It leads to solutions, the rule-books say. But the old fogey is not pliant at all. With so many folks breathing down his neck and with so many tractable minds ready to sit down and break bread with the powers that be -- to usher tourists in – we can perhaps live with the idea of an ageing man in grey beard unwilling to suck up or bootlick. Even in an age of such adversity and Tweets.
Bad press or iPads have seldom scared the unflinching.