There is a narrative and other narrative. The narrative of the changing narratives is more fascinating than the narrative itself.”
Travelling from Delhi to Srinagar a couple of days back, I overheard a long, animated and interesting conversation. A conversation that spoke of changing times and narratives. Of changed minds and mindsets as well. It was a conversation between three people seated in the row in front of me. Even as it got stopped midway as the plane touched ground at Srinangar Airport, it spanned over centuries. Past as well as future ones.
Two young men in their mid or late twenties and an elderly person past through his middle age started talking immediately after the plane had started its ascent into Delhi skies. It was quite obvious that they are from Kashmir as they were speaking in our own native language. The conversation was typical of a Kashmiri staying out his home and comparing other places with his home-town.
The young men were critical of the way Kashmiris were being treated in India by one and all alike. They were talking of unnecessary hassles created by landlords in lending a flat to Kashmiris, by hoteliers in providing an overnight accommodation, by bankers in refusing to open genuine business accounts, by the policemen detaining them on false pretexts.
The older among the two was more forceful in his assertions and nursed a general disdain for non-kashmiris borne out of his experiences. In a typical Kashmiri way, he would regularly intersperse his sentence with that all familiar kashmiri phrase: Koshur haz ban-ni ne kunee ( Kashmiris are matchless).
He was all praise for the kashmiri values of courteousness and civility and declared that he didn’t see such values anywhere in India. The elder guy was silently listening to what these young men were telling and nodding his head in the affirmative.
On the face of it, this conversation was depictive of regular rhetoric of people from small town India thrown into the fast paced life of the metros. The only extra insight was that it was even more difficult for a kashmiri to try his luck in the mainland because of obvious reasons. The threats of being thrown out of a flat, being denied access to amenities or worse being picked up by intelligence sleuths for no reason loom large over the heads of young kashmiris striving in the mainland.
The conversation however now veered towards the political situation in Kashmir. The Youngman was again passionately lamenting the situation and even had a solution to offer. “We must all work single-mindedly to develop our ‘Kashmir’, that is the only way to come out of the current mess”, he declared passionately.
He was also highly critical of the older generation whom he squarely blamed for our plight. Even before I could fully comprehend the gravity of his statement, he came up with another one liner: ‘Had our older generation not fled the place and stayed put, our history would have been different’.
On this, the young man attired fashionably in western clothes, speaking in chaste kashmiri with a slight ‘hindicised’ accent, talking passionately about his homeland caught my fuller attention. He was now talking about the future of his place. He said he was sensing change in the attitudes.
He was optimistic that ‘things’ are poised for a change. He was even ready to concede that it may take another two generations to change the paradigm but, as per him , it was worth the wait. He and his friend and apparently his business partner, were trying to convince other older person that the new generation is changing the discourse in its own way.
It now transpired that the passionate young man was a Kashmiri Pandit boy who had lived most of his life outside J&K. His friend was from downtown Srinagar and they were partners in an import-export firm.
As the plane touched the Srinagar airport the air around was starkly serene as compared to that in Delhi. The air was wafting joyously. It was perhaps rejoicing the advent of the winds of change.