A Tiny Tin Heart

A story of despair, love and all that is least needed

Arshid Malik

There is a near-dead lock over government formation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the People’s Democratic Party (the PDP which at this stage is least about the people and more about power, petty politicking and personal vicissitude, thus the Power Democratic Party, Petty Politics Democratic Party or the Personal-vicissitudes Democratic are found to be more attractive while reconstructing, or should I say deconstructing the party’s acronym) dealing the tables with the Bhartiya Janata Party in an attempt to confirm a long-lasting berth for its rule on Jammu and Kashmir and the later aggressively fighting for its own agenda. Day in and day out rumors in the shape of news rises to the surface refuting or affirming the previous rumor-cum-news about a, b or c having stated something about each other which eventually, at the end of the day bites the dust. There are speculations and more, and the make-shift political pundits are having a field day out there. There is almost zero certainty as to who is going to alliance with whom to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir even though the picture is sometimes so vivid that one can only visualize the to-be Chief Minister of the state taking oath. Well, it all seems so full of yonder that I can only surmise an epitaph for all that is down-under right now, an epitaph that reads, “May You Rest in Peace till You Piece it Together”.

The unfortunate circumstance is that the common people continue to suffer. They suffered when there was a stable government in place pre-elections and they suffer when there is no government at all. So, what is there for the people to gain if the new government is formed, immediately or with obtruded delay? I guess not much. People here have only been disappointed by successive regimes, in one way or the other. One such regime, or dare I say a conglomeration of suppressive and obstinate regimes led the people to utter disarray, resorting to violence and losing a good two decades of progress or more. There is unrest in Kashmir and this unrest lies deep in the heart of every common Kashmiri. No political regime has sought to address this unrest and that is what remarkably renders the current scene quite irrelevant to the people of Kashmir. Kashmir is a fairy-tale land, so to speak, filled with wonder and intrigue. It needs to be handled gently. People living here are too fragile for brute volatility and that is the only thing the “system” has offered since the offing. I am forced to digress here and turn to a fantastic chapter in the history of literature. A fairy tale, that is.

Have you read Hans Christian Andersen’s 1838 fairy tale “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”. Well, if you have not let me give you a gist of this wonderful tale of Hans Christian’s, meant actually for children but as you all must know by now all fairy tales are basically voices of dissent compromised in certain mannerisms to seemingly sound childish in description in order to evade direct adhesion with the object, which more than often is the establishment or the obstinate social setup in such cases. Now coming to the tale, there’s this tin soldier (he only has one leg and is a birthday present for a little boy) and has fallen in love with a paper ballerina (who lifts her leg up way above her head and to the tin soldier it seems like she only has one leg too. She also has small, tinsel rose with her.) The tin soldier goes through so much terrible events such as being eaten by a fish. When in these terrible events he stays still and shows no fear as he thinks about the beautiful paper ballerina. The fish gets caught by a fishermen and is, coincidentally, brought back to the same home. The cook slices the fish’s stomach open and finds the tin soldier inside. He washes the soldier and brings it back to the same table where he was once on, when he first spotted the beautiful ballerina. But the little boy grabs the tin soldier and tosses him into the burning hot stove. The tin soldier stays still and shows no fear. But at the moment a gust of wind enters the room through a window and blows the paper ballerina into the stove as well, but immediately turns into flames and vanishes. The next morning, when the cook took the ashes out of the stove, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the little dancer nothing remained but the tinsel rose, which was burnt black as a cinder.

Working my way upside down in an attempt to drawing some parallelism here, all that remains of Kashmir and its essence is the little tin heart that was left of the one-legged (incomplete) tin soldier – the common Kashmiri – who kept steadfast all along. The ballerina is the soul of Kashmir, the Lal Ded, the Habba Khatun with whom the tin solider fell in love. Somehow the Kashmiri tin soldier survived all adversities and eventually landed back where it belonged, alongside its beloved – the Kashmir of his dreams. Only to be tossed back to flames by an unassuming authority, the boy who received the tin soldiers as his birthday gift, and melting away under duress. The tin soldier is long gone but love remains, though meekly unexpressed, in the shape of a tiny tin heart – the only aspiration that all Kashmiris are left with. I am not sure where I am going with this, but I am certain about one fact though and that is Kashmir and its people are all about love and that love has been denied to them all along. The state of unrest, the chaos the noise is there only because there is no loving though there is longing. Which political party in the state or an amalgamation of parties can bond with the tin heart of Kashmir? Who is the one to connect with the soul of Kashmir, to love back again?

Kashmir is an untold love story. Political gambits don’t figure in a love story. Purity and the very essence of it can only strive to revive what is lost here in Kashmir. So, my epitaph to all political mockery of the state, “May You Rest in Peace till You Piece it Together”.

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