Home coming

Arshid Malik

Every element of Kashmir is laden with nostalgia. There is no moment in my years in Kashmir that do not surface as nostalgic memories in my mind since I have been away for quite a long time now. But I guess now it is time to return to my motherland, to embrace the fertile soil and vibrant culture of my beloved land. But I am also afraid that the land I rejoice and celebrate might bring harm to me and my close ones for now it has been generations of violence and abuse and the people there have turned so inwards that the fear that envelops them turns outwards and aims to hurt their very own people. It is not selfishness but something else, something that works deep down, something that has been inculcated into the psyche of the people over the decades. I fear, I declare that I am wary of my own people. I do not want to be dragged down; I don’t want to be pushed deep into the abyss of fear and trauma and most of all I do not want my progeny to be subjected to something akin to that. After all you always want the best for your children and no parent would like to bring something as cruel as personal hatred into their lives; hatred that feeds on hatred. But again I am willing to come back to Kashmir for I do not want to miss the experiences that my people are subjected to on a daily basis. I want my son to experience it for when he experiences it only then would he get connected to his roots, to the land where he was born.

Children-in-ConflictIt is a strange experience when you know that the place you were born and brought up in has turned into an anonymous creature that gulps down all that comes its way. But it is a far stranger experience to fathom how it turned that way; what went wrong, when and why. It is a frightful experience I guess to land in your own place and find your own people thirsty for each other’s blood. I am at a guessing game, trying to make sense what went wrong and to understand that better I need to be close to my people; I want to understand what affects them as of now and I am willing to risk the peace of my mind for that. I am willing to give up everything I have to make sense of the utter chaos that abounds in Kashmir as of now.

Seemingly everything is fine in Kashmir but the wounds which have been inflicted on the heart and soul of the people of Kashmir remain to be healed and the shrieks which have been suppressed under the sands of time need to be heard by one and all.

So, I am all geared up to face the fierceness of Kashmir. I am ready to face the wrath of my own people. And yes, you are free to call me whatever you like because I do not believe in name games. I have seen my own people pulling down their own fellowmen and women; killing their own; maiming their own and that is symptomatic of post stress syndromes; people started getting into the shoes of their suppressors; they start acting like them and thinking like them. Prolonged conflicts do that to people and there is no reason why we should ever believe or even think about believing that it is the fault of our own people; it is the suppressor who turns good people into very bad people – people so bad that they start working on annihilating their own.

Now the question remains is that if I believe that I am a good parent then why would I be subjecting my kid to the irony of Kashmir? Well, the thing is that I am a good parent but other than that I am a son of the soil and would never betray my own mother.

That is my story for now. I will come back to Kashmir and bear the pain that plans to affect us all. I will come back to Kashmir to witness what my people have gone through while I was away even though the fact is that for not even a single moment have I missed what happened in Kashmir all along.

I long to be in Kashmir and sit by the lonely Jhelum and write some verses and some prose. I want to sing an ode to my people. I want to write silent eulogies for my martyred men, women and children. I want to be the boy in Palestine who dared to hurl a stone at an armored vehicle. I want to be Kashmir, its faded fallen Chinar leaves, its beautiful brooks and the enchanting mountains. I want to come to Kashmir and breathe the sweet smell of Cedar wood mixed with that of rotting human blood and write endless verses about what it was and what it was to be.

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