Saturday, May 21, 2011

Martyrs .

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.

Mirwaiz: Martyr?

AG: Aren’t we all?

© Sameer

Monday, May 16, 2011

Old man and the vale

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 (they live in America alone) 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. It gnaws away at our case vis-à-vis the elusive Azadi and 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.

© Sameer

Monday, May 02, 2011

OBL

So they finally liquidated him. So he was for real. So he was putting his feet up in an Abottabad château and not some mountainside fox-hole. So the videos were real. So the tapes were bonafide. So the Pakistanis knew all along. So the intel was passed onto the Americans. So the boss of special ops ringed-down the POTUS, currently in a re-run mode. So the orders came directly from the Oval office, the earthly equivalent of Apocatastasis. And the kill of the century!

President Zardari was jolted from deep sleep in the middle of night by a phone call. It was Barak himself. Poor Zardari initially thought it is a rude joke, as Americans are sometimes wont to, but then -- May is not April. The joke was on him. How could he hide a bottle or two under his bed and snore away so peacefully? The most wanted man on God’s green earth was living an hour’s drive from Aiwan-e-Sadr. Phew that was close.

Kashmiris got the news with a mix of disbelief and shock as they began a new week. They shall be discussing OBL in government offices and shop fronts over the next few days. Expect a strike call, by some militant outfit. My hunch tells me that Indian TV channels cannot be expected to feed them anything barring silly, Pakistan-bashing stuff around OBL (About how he was recklessly playing chess with some Pakistani notable in the Abottabad compound while a sly drone tracked him down and such related nonsense).

Ah, OBL. The ultimate boogeyman of our times. The Americans cunningly made him into this world wide CEO of some shadowy vague evil organization. In hindsight he was a wealthy Wahabi who hit it big in the Afghan jihad with his big money and radical outlook. The latter day Lord Voldemort like appellation bestowed upon him was a total American creation. His involvement in 9-11 could never be firmly established though it is hard to give him the benefit of doubt. OBL was perhaps more symbolic than the phantom, as Fox would have it.

Commentaries and videos and tweets on OBL are not expected to stop anytime soon. They will work you up and jerk you into frenzy. Ground-breaking stuff this. The world’s most wanted man meets his fate. Punsters will have a day out. The jokes have begun on Twitter, already. Script-writers are currently scribbling away the unfolding high-voltage drama. Go, go, go style. Gunships booming. Targeted op. Special ops rappelling down apache choppers. Surgical precision. Garrison town.

For those with a penchant for trivia or conspiracy theory here's the take-home: OBL was shot in the head and buried at sea. The Indian Ocean is one big grave today. It has a famous, if slightly insubmissive, resident.

© Sameer

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A lamb-less state

This past month no rib, chuck or rack of lamb was available in Kashmir for most parts. That means a lot. It really does. We have sacrificed a great deal in twenty years. Taking our naati-phol [shank] away from us is taking it to another extreme. There is a limit to what one can renounce. Once again we proved that pushed against the wall, we can confront anyone, including the butcher-baradari, handle-bar moustaches and all. And none of us died out because of the lamb-less state.

The jury is still out on the latest turn-out in Panchayat polls. Come election time the hilly heart starts to vacillate and people swarm out of their huts and hearths to vote. Ofcourse Messer’s Geelani sahib and co feel quite bad about such fickle-mindedness, which in all probability is short-sightedness without pajamas. Sociologists admit that human memory is still short-term and God knows Panchayat-ghars were notorious make-shift interrogation centers not so long ago.

It has never been about elections. The otherwise highly competent election commission of India has been holding hocus-pocus polls – barring a few exceptions -- in Kashmir ever since we signed on the dotted line. Umpteen voting exercises have miserably failed to crack the riddle. The villages may need their headmen but even the headmen need to keep their heads held high whilst passing the village graveyard filled with the young. Queues can be deceptive.

Anticipation is rife as a new summer rumbles in. With the padre of resistance now openly counseling against the futility of stone-throwing, one can only hope that no more stones are hurled on Omar’s musketry, currently oiling their batons and brandishing their polycarbonate lathis [beating clubs] in expectation of a hot summer. Let us make peace this summer – with all kinds of butchers who straddle our little valley.

Let’s hope only daffodils grow in the city and countryside this year.

© Sameer