by Saqib Majeed
As everyone around the world is in home-quarantine, so am I in my homeland Kashmir. Staying at home all the time is a new and hard task for the people living around the world but it is nothing new here. In Kashmir, curfews, restrictions, shutdown and communication gags have remained a norm over the years.
This lockdown, however, is different from what I have experienced so far. For the last three years, I used to wake up at Fajr time and amid the cool breeze of the morning, I would make my way to the Masjid. During these unusual circumstances, I am being able to pray in the mosque and it is saddening.
From running an engineering firm to working for an international photo agency, to me, it seems fear has put everything to halt. After the government orders of shutting down the offices, I too started working from home, which is difficult for me. Being a working journalist, I still go out to click pictures of the lockdown twice a week. Rest of the time I try to click pictures from my home only. It is spring – a very lonesome spring. I sit near the window along with my camera and try to capture the spring around me. I actually ended up doing a story on spring for my photo agency. I never thought the window of my room can be the only way for me to witness the life around me.
In the last seven years, I do not remember a single day when I stayed home. I am still getting used to it. It is strange how the world suddenly shrank into the four walls of my room.
Looking at the brighter side of it, however, spending time with my family is fun, especially when my sister makes new cuisines every other day. It is also a good time to reflect on ourselves – to take a pause and self-introspect. In between all the silence the world has gone into, one finally could see the noise inside that one was paying no attention amid the madness of modern times.
Lockdowns in Kashmir usually comes with internet gag. This time when 2G is working, the internet addict in me is having most out of it. From social media to video calling my friends, the internet helps to kill my boredom. Besides, I keep updating people with news on my social media accounts.
Every night before retiring for the day, I try to think of a better morning. When this invisible threat will be over and the outside world will be a safer place. But the end seems far and uncertain. Nobody, not even the greatest minds of the world can tell when will the utter helplessness of human beings before a tiny virus will end.
I will be curious to see how will the world react once this pandemic comes to an end. Will we take every small blessing around us for granted again – a hug of a friend, a handshake, a Fajr prayer in Masjid and everything which we never appreciated? Would the world be a better place to live in with more compassion for each other? Life after this pandemic has all these answers. And I will wait for them to unfold.
I am not a regular writer. But I wanted to pen down my thoughts as a reminder for self and to the world of the times, we are now living in. We, humans, tend to forget easily. I want my words to be the witness. This too shall pass.
(Author is a civil engineer by training and photographer by profession.)