The K word. One word that worries India. It cannot stand hearing it on international forums. The forbidden word. The abhorred word. The international cliché.
But this word has depth. There are countless beating hearts attached to it. Blood runs through these hearts. Blood that when spilled turns out to be just as red as yours or mine. Tiny hearts, attached to small bodies. Bodies of kids. Kids with dreams. Big dreams. Shattered with many of these bodies. But who killed them? War. Hate. Prejudice. Uncertainty. Fear. Fear that curdles the blood. Fear that chills the bones. Fear of loss. Fear of losing father, mother or sibling. Of losing home. Of losing hope. How long can you live like that? But they have. For decades. War, hate, prejudice, uncertainty, loss and fear, all in regular installments.
Kashmir is often called Jannat Nazeer (heaven like). It had gardens. Now it has gardens of stones. In every graveyard. It had beautiful lakes. Now their clear water is bloodlike. Its tall mountains have seen so many deaths that they too stand shamefaced staring in the sky, ready for a death that would not come. And yet their pain is immense. Sit with them and your heart too is swarmed by unending grief. Mountains all over the world may feel their pain but mortals don’t. For an average everyday Indian, this is a ploy to dismember their country. For an average everyday Pakistani it is a constant reminder of boring textbooks that they had to memorise without sparing a thought for the substance in it. For the rest of the world it is a crazy flashpoint. A nuclear flashpoint. Yeah you heard it right. As if no one lives there. No hearts bleed. No eyes cry. Small eyes of kids. That are wounded by pellets now. Sleep on man. This is somebody else’s problem. Until it becomes yours.
But things like these can happen to anyone. Your country can be occupied by someone. You can also be killed in broad daylight, before your children’s eyes. Or else your loved ones can be killed before your eyes. And your helpless brain scarred for life. Burdened by the survivor’s guilt.
It is not easy to identify with this suffering when you have seen so much blood all over the world. But Kashmir is not like Iraq, Syria or Libya. They erupted quickly. And one day will regain peace. Kashmir is not even like Afghanistan where Afghans kill Afghans. No. It is like a simmering cauldron which knows it is in its destiny to keep simmering forever. When you are being killed before your eyes it cannot be a welcome relief to know that on the very spot your father was killed before your eyes and his before his eyes. There is a clear identity of the enemy.
Believe me, this is not a propaganda piece nor am I your average everyday India basher. My bitterness towards India is mainly due to Narendra Modi’s ascent. What a freakishly dark joke. Before that, I could still identify India as a democracy despite the plight of the Kashmiris. This piece is not about that. It is about shame. And heartbreak. And guilt. To see pictures of children blinded by pellet attack. And this contingent factor. The young man by the name of Burhan Wani who was just killed. India calls him a terrorist. But terrorists kill local populace. Why was he so popular among the local populace? Maybe there still are a few freedom fighters left in the world. And to think he was only 21 years old. Woe to man if that is the total lifespan of a young man.
I can go on endlessly about how India has failed Kashmiris and how Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership have failed them. But it is not about that. It is about shame. And the realisation that humanity has failed them. I am ashamed dear readers because I do not see any hope for Kashmiris. They don’t matter. They are invisible. And why shouldn’t they be? Shining India says they are troublemakers and you listen. You see a different picture but since India says so it must be right. It takes courage to stand up to someone you like. But maybe expediency is a better choice. Shame can be your hidden secret. Invisible shame for an invisible people.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2016.