Freedom, revolution and the missing links

Arshid Malik

The lanes and by-lanes of Kashmir have gained a reddish hue as blood and gut has been spilled incessantly in these streets over the past two decades. This hue is not flagrantly obvious, though it is palpable to those who care. There is something else – unheard shrieks for help and a stinging smell of murder. All this for a cause we honour the most. We are willing to die for it, but have we been able to live up to it.
All of us are grieving deep inside. All of us are threatened and thwarted by the gory stillness of the armed silhouette that lurks ahead of us and behind us. We are weakened by the serendipity of terror. Here in Kashmir, the victims and the victimizers, brush shoulders with each other every now and then, but no words are spoken – a silence has descended upon our land. A pantheon of dead and debris has assembled in our hearts. We walk around like zombies infused with synthetic life. We push on hurtling each other ahead towards a fire that is fuelled by all that is animate, hoping we might stumble upon the ennobled path. Drenched, as if by acid rain, we droop like withering vines, while our orchids are set on fire; we are a people who have forgotten what life really feels like.
Our customary courtesy has spelt doom for us while our traditions have fallen to rot. We are left at the ease and pleasure of strangers who never smelt our bread. We stand in the line of invisible fire and unjustified ire. We are a people who still believe, freedom is just a foothold away.
But on our way back home, we often forget that freedom is not a solitary word. Freedom is the undercurrent of revolution and definitely not all of it. Freedom is a concept, an entitlement, a refuge. While we walked our walk, braving the bullets, we attached too much meaning to the word “freedom” and subjected it to unheeding patronage and in due course of time we forgot the revolution. We committed a mistake when we forgot that revolution belongs to the people while freedom as an idea is nurtured and nourished by the elite.
When people tread the path of revolution the attainment they envision at the end of the journey is freedom, but the fact remains that the path itself is liberating. We started a revolution and abandoned it for what we aimed to achieve. We are a brave people and history stands witness to that, but we ought to learn to keep our nerve, for often the zest of revolution is lost to an impatient nerve. Revolution beseeches blood, but that is not the only thing that keeps it burning. Revolution demands that people who engender it, also live up to it. At the onset we were with the revolution, all of us, and then slowly we fell out of sync. Our lifestyles today signify a pompous departure from what we stand for. We still brave the bullets, but, sorry to say, we are not revolutionaries any more. We may wait upon the conceptualized version of our freedom and perhaps even attain it, but perhaps we will realize later that we did not gain what we intended to. It would most certainly be an exemption at the most or a paraphrased ideal. We are oppressed and for us, as a people, it is necessary to walk the line of revolution which starts within us and not without.

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