Lay thy finger thus, and let thy soul be instructed
—Othello, Act 2, Scene 1
The die has been cast. Inked fingers are fashionable in Kashmir now. Another matter it feels like we are fingering our own memories, which unfortunately are short-lived.
So the high priestess of Indian TV, Madame Barkha Dutt, has declared the elections a success. In the television mumbo-jumbo that TV anchors are usually good at, she called it ‘a thaw in the winter chill’ or some related smart crack. Squatting on a dastar-khawan with a few copper tramis laden with wazwan, there was a celebratory ring to her show. It had an artsy feel, complete with vapours rising from the food. Nazir Masoodi's self-control on such occasions must be appreciated.
The participants included Karan Singh’s son, with all the silk in his family heirloom, bound around his neck, and stuffed in his pockets and a KP film-maker (God knows what he has made) in an ill-fitting jacket and huge shirt collars. There was an elegant professor also. PDP’s spokesperson, draped in a black shawl, looked like a wise sage, who knows that success is near. Ofcourse the NC spokesperson, an old pal of mine, tried to sound intuitive but came across as a sailor who knows the storm is fierce and his ship is doomed.
In another space, another channel (I watch them in clutches on Youtube when I have a moment) the rabid Arnoub had assembled (as usual) a dozen people, none of whom he allowed to speak. Going a step further than Barkha, he announced the total rejection of separatism, now that Bandipora has voted 75% and the dawn of a new era in Kashmir. God knows where he wriggled the old fogey Hashim Qureshi from. Since the host has institutionalized the idea of being seriously a joke and a farce at the same time, he easily wasted another 60 minutes of the nation. In an ideal world they would put him in a rehab.
As the season of absurd continues, the vote frenzy has climaxed. Kashmir is very cold around this time and usually boring. Elections, the spectacle that it is, infuse some life into these drab settings. With the BJP rocking the show in the centre, Madison Square Garden and elsewhere, it appears that Modi’s star is on the ascendency. Flush with victory after another victory, he has already announced that India is where stem cell gyaan originated. Taking a clue, his minions are now saying Vedic India (1750–1000 BCE) had helicopters. Obviously by that logic Kashmir straight away belongs to Mohan Bhagwat’s RSS.
I reckon Kashmiris, being politically sharp if somewhat humbug, decided to spoil the party for the BJP. The generic political wisdom is that Jammu and its sphere of influence is under a spell of Modi and his jinn, the crazy as fox, Amit Shah, so lets join ranks and make sure that the saffron ghouls don’t come here in their Vedic drones. The overwhelming sentiment after Round 1, journalist friends inform, is that this indiscretion in the winter chill is not seen as disrespect to old boy Geelani. No way! If he wrote a book of calligraphy, tomorrow, and called it The Delicate Art of Defiance, by God, it will sell like hot cakes. But today people are simply in a mood to vote.