I Remember


Sameer Yasir

Pingali Venkayya would have hanged his head in shame if he were to see the Indian tricolor painted on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road these days, after every ten steps on poplar trees, electric poles even bridges. Incomplete and hurriedly painted in the middle of night, deep saffron (kesari) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion is what you notice. But only it doesn’t look like the flag of the Indian union.    

A friend recently said this was “symbolism of hegemony”. Another said it is an “insecure” nation trying to secure its “ascendancy” in a disputed land – that like it or not you have to accept it and keep in mind that we are here and we are mighty. We are rich and we are also powerful now. We can buy lobbying firms for $70,000 and $60,000 and not let the Obama administration add India or Kashmir in Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke’s (Since dead) mandate. We can’t let them talk about you.

My thoughts went to a bitterly cold night one winter.  I had been having a dream for nine long years. A Shaktiman army vehicle full of soldiers was coming after me and I have not stopped running in that dream.

Why then you don’t accommodate your own in your towns and cities. Then why your citizens, when ever there is a blast in your cities, would throw the bags of young students out of hotels and rented accommodations. You don’t consider those yours who were with you since the partition of subcontinent. How can you trust us? And you don’t.   

You lost on the streets, now you’re losing in bookstores. I remember a day in your land, carrying that black jacket, after a long train journey in the evening not getting a room, frightened, alone to see people looking at a potential terrorist. A terrorist who was studying in tenth standard and hearing whispers that there might be a bomb in that bag were I had kept two pieces of bread, which later stray dogs ate.

I still remember after a few more years, once arriving late from an overseas journey and getting nightmares of the past.

I still remember that cry in that classroom: you Kashmir’s are never at peace, you never want peace, because you are violent by nature and you should be crushed to death.

I still remember that house painter who had seen the violence perpetuated by your proud soldiers on this same road, were you have painted your tricolor. He traveled along this road and then died a violent death in Lal Chowk. His mother still waits in that crumbling house every day for him. Carrying that old cell phone in the pocket of her pheran, waiting for that call he still is to make and she still is too receive.
 
That son of the peon can’t see because your soldiers fired a pallet into his socket. I still remember that moment when he asked me in that small dark room if he can see once again, crying.

Whenever I visit him I also see the beard of that peon has turned gray. He can’t afford to pay his medical bills. So the father must die a slow death and blind son should not see it. And that may be the reason why your tricolor should fly high.

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