It isn’t often that I recede into the fading non-existence to but catch a glimpse of a parallel humanity that runs unhindered through the ravines of a disintegrating Land of Eden. It is only in a flurry of a moment that it is contemplated about the verdant landscapes of Kashmir, among the then invigorating breezes that have been reduced to a foliage glistening up in flames. But among the fire, I can see clearly, the face of an old friend, Naseeba who either breathes in the stifling air or lies four feet underground. Thus it remains a heart-wrenching mystery and it is in this silence that I aim to find solace.
It is the repentance of an unfathomable depth that I wish to be an irreplaceable part of. To not feel like an outcast among the flurries of existence and feel the plight of our Kashmiri brethren and the suppression that comes with the anonymity of the pellets and the bullets and to perhaps be the rhapsody among the silent uncertainty of religion and mortality. It still remains overwhelming, the grieving souls and the cry of absolution encompassing this Vale of Tears.
Naseeba being not only the youngest duckling in the herd, but being her ecstatic self would not let the misfortune dispel the charm of knowledge and familial ties. I would wake up in the underground bunker that lies underneath the wood-carved house, the air stifling with the earthen scent. I would then aid in the morning preparations as the troops would march past the indented road to the nearest military cantonment where we would often send fresh food, milk and butter.
It would then be a struggle to exit the refuge of a descending home and choose the concealed mountain pathway that would take me to Begum Sahiba’s cottage behind the over-arching mountains where she continues to teach the local children among the unrest and the commotion. As I would clench my notebook under my woolen chador that would not save me from a rogue pellet for it remains petrifying to witness the youth playing in the fields, prolonging their wait of being torn to pieces by the illicit cluster bombs. Nonetheless, it becomes a blur when Begum Sahiba initiates the robust calculations of mathematics and we all stifle a giggle at the sagacity of learning, a hidden contentment.
I would then head home, catching a glimpse of the Line of Control and the military barracks situated on the opposite side of a winding river that dissects our brethren’s faith into nothing more than turmoil and a crimson sky of martyrdom. I would then help to prepare dinner while Uncle Sarfaraz would sit in the lounge oiling the barrels of his shotgun, after all the night-watch was an irreplaceable custom while we would all lie in a dazed slumber in the underground bunker. All of this would have been irrevocable after the loss of a five year old brother that hang like a noose around my neck from the willow tree in the backyard. There will be no chatters and no weeping, for all mortality has vanished in suffering and sentiment. I would then lay on the cold earth and search in the dark for a glimmering sky but we are already buried alive waiting for the vice to descend and the dead to rise.
Since all hostility initiates in the warmth of belonging, thus it will teach me patience being the pivot of survival in a spectrum of helplessness and trepidation. Maybe even the normalcy of oppression would teach me a sense of faith in the woes of an incessant absolution but only the efforts of a few will widen my eyes in perplexity as the hand-held roots of humanity are woven stronger under despotism, as the warmth disintegrates and the blood gushes forward. For I have yet to wonder about the unheard stories and the silenced anguish in the verdant landscapes of virtue and equity.