Dilli Dreams!

6

Shah Navid Ahmad

Shah Navid Ahmad standing second from right with fellow Kashmiris in JMI.

Shah Navid Ahmad standing second from right with fellow Kashmiris in JMI.

After two years of hard work with no proper direction or guidance, I finally landed in Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI), Delhi. Thus the pursuit of chasing my dream subject began. After I reached Delhi the first challenge was to find a place to stay. On my last visit to Delhi, when I was in the process of securing my career, I stayed as a guest with some Kashmiri scholars. This time around I stayed with new students like myself. They would treat me like a younger brother. There were three other new students like me. Finally after a few days, the hunt for a flat begun. We would walk around Batla House endlessly hunting for a proper accommodation. But given our complexion and background even the most unsuitable accommodations were denied to us. It was humiliating. Many would say clearly we don’t lease flats to Kashmiris.

Majority of my classmates are from UP with some from Bihar and west Bengal. I didn’t find a single Kashmiri student pursuing honors in any science subjects among the seniors. The recent wave of pursuing B. Tech from the private engineering colleges outside the valley has added to this sorry state. Kashmiris hardly opted for science subjects despite having vast libraries and cooperative professors at their disposal in Delhi.

Interestingly all these blessings, as I would call them, are completely missing back home. JMI on the other hand has well stacked library offering both classic and new books.

My friends Zahid and Salman, who actually encouraged me to take science, would often say over phone that how they wish to have access to so many books in Kashmir, like I have here. Recently Zahid called me and exclaimed, “I have made a complete library of books on my laptop.”

Three days later Salman called me again and said, “I need hard copies of some books. Can you get them for me from Delhi?”  He said that reading a soft copy on computer doesn’t give him the same pleasure. The books which he was looking for were not available even in Delhi. I called him and said I am sorry.

In Salman’s case, he had a choice to ring a friend in Delhi and ask for books. But not all have the same choice in Kashmir.

On another occasion Zahid told me that he is not allowed to take books from library other than related to his subject.

People who teach in Kashmir have strange kind of ego. They always wear gloomy and unfriendly look on their faces.

One of our professors at JMI, Pankaj Sharan, who is an author and a painter, would always wear smile on his face. He talks to his students as if we are his friends. One day, when I was in Sharan Sir’s room, I remember him offering me his chair. He was explaining something interesting on the black board. After we were done, he quickly grabbed his bag and offered me cookies from a box. It was something I was not used to. I had only known teachers to be tough and unfriendly back home.

Later I came to know that Sharan is the director of Centre for Inter-disciplinary Research in Basic Sciences (CIRBSc).

I remember Pankaj Sir, one of my teachers saying, “It needs no efforts to pass an examination while to fail requires a lot.”

However living in a place like Delhi is not easy.

Apart from hot and humid weather being a Kashmiri is also a major issue here. No matter how long one stays here, you are always an alien. People tend to maintain a gap when they come to know that you are a Kashmiri. There are many barriers that come to fore when you start living here like language, cultural differences and unfriendly people. People respect you only when you are somebody. But being a Kashmiri we are used to face such situations with a smile. We know how to maintain our composure when faced with an unfriendly situation. And on top of that you are always under scanner. Being a Kashmiri, you are by default a potential threat to the nation on occasions like 15th August, 26th January etc. My parents would advice me not to move out during late hours during these ‘special days’. Kashmiris fear police more than criminals while living outside Kashmir which is ironic.

Living outside Kashmir helps you understand your roots in a better way. It helps you to get connected to the cause that Kashmiris are fighting for since decades. And then you start telling people what you as a Kashmir go through on the daily basis. How you are pushed to the wall every single day. Some people understand your emotions while others simply laugh it off. They say, “yeh to hota he rehta hai. Yeh to har jagah hota hia” (It is nothing new. It happens everywhere).

They simply belittle the issue without trying to see the reality.

I cannot better pen down these emotions than to quote Zarif A Zarif:

“Wanihkaskustyuthdardil

Kathihkathihsanihey, waniheykath”

(Who to tell, who‘ll listen?

Read deeply each word.)

During Friday prayers when you hear local Imams skip Kashmir while making special prayers for Muslims living in conflict ridden places across the world, it simply surprises you!

“Suqrat myeh ehsaan karith gouw nih galath chah

Taem my anihhissuk chow nih zahar

Yout machar kyah?”

(Socrates did me no favor in leaving

I should not be saying this but-

He didn’t drink my share of poison

What frenzy is this?)

I cannot better pen down my emotions than to quote Zarif A Zarif:

“Wanih kas kus tyuth dar dil

Kathih kathih sanihey , wanihey kath.”

(Who to tell, who‘ll listen?

Read deeply each word.)

Even when the imams of mosques here will make supplications for the conflict ridden places they won’t even mention the name of Kashmir. Again to quote Zarif:

“Suqrat myeh ehsaan karith gouw nih galath chah

Taem myanih hissuk chow nih zahar

Yout machar kyah?”

(Socrates did me no favor in leaving

I should not be saying this but-

He didn’t drink my share of poison

What frenzy is this?)

Perhaps it is conflict itself which makes you understand the life better, feel the miseries of your fellows and care for them. Perhaps it is conflict that keeps a flame of love inside burning even when you are in a frost biting ‘cold’.

6 Comments

  1. i am of the same view about the ego fainted behavior of teachers and professors in Kashmir. even the research scholars have a feeling as if they are far above the well known scientists.i have seen and witnessed the approach of teachers in Hyderabad and in china where am doing research. Here in china my professor shares coffee with me, boosts my morale up when am down and its not just to say am something but it is a common uncured problem of we Kashmiri’s. we have to learn to love and shun this ego ….then we can flourish.

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