A Borrowed Tribute!



Shams Irfan

Encouraged by the success of Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir, a musical/cultural event originally launched to counter Zubin Mehta’s concert in Srinagar, the coalition of civil societies decided to present a musical tribute to Afzal Guru, who was hanged and buried inside Tihar Jail.

The local press went gaga over the announcement and called it a next big step in the Kashmiris struggle for justice. The announcement instantly drew reaction from Kashmiris across the globe who saw it as a tool to counter India’s soft propaganda war waged through cable television and Bollywood.

Voices like, “we are not anti-development or music” gained momentum among 90’s born Kashmir’s who have opened their eyes amidst bloody conflict.

Experts and intellectuals hailed it as a new way of resistance. It was indeed the new form of resistance which was about to set an example for generations to come.

Social media sites were flooded with discussion. The reminder about this big day (release day) flooded enthusiast’s mailboxes.

Finally came the big day. It was Saturday afternoon and Kashmir was officially shut against killings in Shopian. But as it has been with shutdown since last few years, private and a few public vehicles were playing on the roads, while most of the shops were shut. Slowly excitement gave way to anticipation and the revered members of CCS took to stage to present the new tool of resistance to an eager audience.

It was a set of twin compact discs (CD’s) one carrying eight songs sung in tribute to Afzal Guru and other, a DVD, comprising key features of Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir event held on 7th September, 2013.

Unlike the online euphoria surrounding the highly talked about music launch, the actual event drew just a hundred odd people including some two dozen media persons.

As the curtains finally went up, people literally jumped over each other to get their share of the history.

One of the CCS members termed the album launch as a musical tribute to Afzal Guru from Kashmiri nation. “We want our upcoming generations to get inspired from him,” he has said.

The album titled “A Tribute to Afzal Guru” comprised eight songs, six in Urdu and two in Kashmiri language.

After the event came to an abrupt end without playing even a single track from the album, I quickly left and headed straight to my car. I was excited like everybody else. But my wait was prolonged when the CD was not recognized by my car stereo. I went straight back to my office and finished my work early and left towards my home. Once home, I quickly took out the audio CD and started listening patiently.

As the first song, ahle hulood ne dilli ko badnaam kardiya, Na haq qissa Afzal tamam kar diya…played I was instantly transported to my alma-mater i.e. AMU. I saw myself sitting in the front row of a kitschy decorated movie theatre watching Naseerudin starrer 1993 hit film Sir. The song:  Aaj humne dil ka har qissa tamam kar diya…Khud bi pagal hogaye tumko bi pagal kar diya…started playing in my ears. It was a duet sung by Kumar Sanu and Kavita Krishnamurthy.  For a moment I had completely forgotten about history that was playing on my stereo. I had no idea whether to rely on my imagination and memory, or to stay focused on history in the making. Before I could have decided between either of the two I skipped the song and played the next one.

The second song: pursukoon chehre main tufaan chupa rakha tha…maut mein teri Afzal tufan chupa rakha tha…

After listening first two lines, I saw myself slipping down the memory lane once again. But this time I was not in any cheap movie theatre but outside Arts Faculty (AMU) waiting for my teenage crush to alight from a rickshaw. As she crossed me in the narrow corridor, her eye met mine from behind her veiled face and my heart skipped a beat. It was then I remembered Pakistani Ghazal maestro’s famous song from Tere Sehar Main album:  woh apne chehre main so aftaab rakhte hai…isi liye to woh rukh par naqaab rakhte hai…

It was at that point I took out the CD and leaned back for a while to understand the meaning of tribute. And since then I have not gone back to that CD.


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