And we shall be free

Arshid Malik

The very recent Egyptian upheaval has sent ripples down the international political spine, with people from different nationalities finding recourse in an altogether different dialect of freedom, one that is pivoted on peace and peaceful means of protest. Back in Kashmir while fighting our “battle for freedom” we also found a ray of hope in whatever happened in Egypt and discourses flowed around the uprising in Egypt.

Well, we have given our lives to the “battle for freedom”; we have lost our dear sons, brothers and fathers; we have lost all that we had built brick by brick; we have suffered, wept and wandered but have we really understood the meaning of freedom and the price one ought to pay for it. I have come to understand that freedom is not a commodity that one can trade in; it is specifically not a single strand but rather a multitude of long and short, thick and thin, strong and weak possibilities that eventually mature into a singular entity.

Freedom at an idealistic level – a thought plane – is never a practical and palpable solution for a whole population although it could very well be the axis of a poem, the plot of a novel or the effectuation of some dramatic irony. Freedom is a life form in itself; a self-sustained universe of convergent potentialities; a sanctum sanctorum of human values and traditions; a pure amalgamation of natural elements; an institution in itself; a distinct and discreet breed; an unkempt species. It is certainly not something that thrives in our backyard.

 While battling it out and debating it in, we have come a long way. We, the people of Kashmir, have struggled a lot. We have used every tool to effectuate liberation from a crisis that sits on our heads, but we have not “gained much ground”. I have applied my entire mind and thought to the imbroglio in Kashmir but have utterly and miserably failed to understand why we are not getting anywhere although we are losing our strengths and people with every passing day.

I am all for the freedom of Kashmir and have done my bit for it I should say, but then at the end of the day every odd man across the world settles down in his chair with a cup of tea or coffee and contemplates what he has achieved through the day and when I do that I find nothing but truths laying bare on the concrete floor, maimed and mutilated which throw up all the actualities of reason in my face. This unnerves me and scares me shut. I eventually have started getting nightmares about it; yes I dream about some grotesque being shooting my beloved dead and that beloved is none but the axis of my poem for freedom.

Now while I am talking about freedom and Kashmir at the same time I am sure I would be creating a ruckus for both of these are like festered wounds for all of us. But, my dear brothers and sisters, what I am meaning to tell you here is not the hackneyed story of what happened in Kashmir but the story which is yet to be told – the story of a people who, in their fight against suppression, have forgotten the very ideals of humanity. We Kashmiris have distanced ourselves from the core principles of humanity; we have intentionally forgotten all that renders us unique; we have overgrown into “a pack of hungry wolves”, out to cut each other out; we have chopped short the very meaning(s) of freedom to the point that “freedom” now remains a solitary seven letter word without the soul and meaning it actually accrues.

We the people of Kashmir must learn our lessons now lest it shall be too late and the dream of freedom shall slip through our fingers like smoke. We have to generate a newer and better meaning of “freedom” that is based on praxis and connected to our heart and soul. We wholeheartedly have to indulge into “freedom”, weave it into the fabric of our lives and discipline ourselves in a manner that we are in a decent position to receive it with open arms. If we do not do that we will find ourselves embracing thin air over the moment we are “free”.

We need to prepare ourselves for “freedom” and in order to achieve this exemplary feat we, first of all, must free ourselves of all the evils that we embody. We should find happiness in the happiness of others, make sure that others who live around us have eaten their morsel before eating ourselves, ensure that we treat our people well lest we shall be treated ugly, and in a nut shell do all that our religion tells us to do. Once we become good human beings we would be free in a different sense and that sense, I assure you, is so overpowering and prevailing that it will actually liberate us.

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