Eid has finally come. It always comes. In the best of times and the worst. Yes we will polish off the finest bakery in town and break bread with family. That's what festivals are all about. Getting together with loved ones and shutting yourself off all the absurdities of this cruel world. Yet in a place like Kashmir where a never-ending conflict hexes the lives of almost everyone, one can't totally afford to disconnect with what goes on around us. It is a jinx that refuses to cast loose. Like Tasrup of the old times. However much we go away from it and pretend to be like everyone else: flashy mobiles, big homes, cafe shops et al, it comes back in the evening.
Not a day goes without stories of some new variety of suffering emerging. Rebels are now charred so bad, even in their death, that no one is able to tell who is who. A cop is lynched on the most auspicious of nights. Till last week we thought only those lowlife retards in mainland India hack people to death. Even the sky doesn't turn red now. Vazul nub, grandparents would often say. Lore had it that if someone died accidently, a drowning, mayhap, the evening sky would go crimson over Srinagar, as if God was galled at what was happening with his devout back on earth. But these are different times. As the Bard would say 'Tis the times plague, when madmen lead the blind'.
I'm convinced that we are addicted to kharab haalat. Our addiction to violence has a political context that exposes our vulnerability and at the same time reinforces our fortitude. We know that TV news is shit (one feels so repetitive to say it now), yet we devour it en mass and feel more pessimistic about ourselves. Someone recently asked me why Kashmiris care about what some compromised TV anchor has to say on Prime Time. I replied that given the lack of reading culture in Kashmir, people are addicted to TV. Violence is pain that one learns to internalise. All these images of coffins after coffins, 'declared brought dead' web headlines, disfigured young boys, graves, slogans, funerals, are painful.
There might be an element of mass hysteria to it but ultimately, when a sister wrings her hands as her brother's corpse is taken away (rebel/non-rebel is besides the point), it is pain, plain and simple. A mother crying in the crook of her arm at night is not her pain alone. It lacerates everyone's soul. So how does a society, collectively, deal with this? No one knows the answer. We just know the short-cut. We have all gotten addicted to something that takes away the pain. That might be one reason we care about what some Sanghi KP has to disparagingly say about us on TV. Be as it may, we need to get away from the nuisance. Also we must stay clear of political hookers who lurk around in our neck of woods by the dozen. They will sleep with anyone who pays them a price.
Kashmir has endured a lot. We need to get a handle on our grief without allowing any toff to appropriate it for us. It's hard to live normal lives in a conflict. We just need to look around and honour the dignity and countenance of those who have lost their loved ones. Kashmir may have a dozen maslaks and firqas but after all that we undergo, what must glue us is empathy and love and tolerance towards each other. To all my fellow compatriots back home -- from Nowhata to Nishat, Banihal to Bandipora and all the valiant villages and vicinages in between: Eid Mubarak