On the prowl

Arshid Malik

Kashmir is like a lovelorn bird sanctuary with no rules and regulations. Hunters just roll up their gear and move in for a shooting spree. The reference to the words “bird” and “hunter” are not literal but metaphorical. Why? I believe that the wishes and aspirations of common people are like birds which want to fly long flights of freedom and mechanisms of trapping these wishes down bear deep resemblance to “hunters”.

All of us have wishes. After all we are human and given the circumstance that we sense freedoms, we happen to crave for them. Recollect having seen a bird in flight when you were young; you must certainly have wished for wings. Unfortunately our wishes seldom come true as the hunters are always preying them, hoping to bring a couple or more down “for the sake of it”.

These hunters, like the whole creed of hunters, enjoy the shooting down part of it. There, there, one wish just swept past me and the hunter shot it down. When I say “shot it down” it does not involve real bullets and guns but surrealistic paraphrases juxtaposed into daring anachronisms. And my words do not spin around “mishandled governance” and “authoritarian excesses” but around the critical sentiment of keeping someone away from something, denying someone what that someone merits and deserves with no obvious causes or clauses.

Why did America invade Iraq one fine day even though the justifications that were squeezed in to justify the invasion were bizarrely baseless? Or for that matter why have the world powers accrued battalions of arms and artillery, while their total GDP spending on defense exceeds every other sector leaving the sick hapless, the uneducated listless, the handicapped support less, the poor impoverished, the weak decimated and major chunks of the population aimless? I figure, and contemporary history supports the fact that, modern day invasions are not like archaic wars which purely targeted expansion of the ruled dominion into neighboring territories and worked over the whims and whiskers of kings and monarchs.

Today the ideals that the so-called elected representatives of the people follow, with huge think tanks drumming behind, are so shadowy that nothing is obvious. Now when you are not shooting someone down to kill someone, why do it all? The reasons for warfare today, generally, escapes common wisdom as history spins around itself. It all comes down to birds, sanctuaries and hunters. The latter do it for the sake of it, and yes perhaps the birds will never give up flying.

There is something in the air that I sensed, picked up the smell, like a gazelle or a zebra senses the presence of a predator and takes to its heels. I wanted to run but since I am a 198 pounder I decided to hide in the thick cover of my daily life. We are being hunted by a predator and this predator is no meat and flesh thing but a coveted stratagem of the royal Poinciana of the hunter’s clan.

We wish to be free but we are kept like birds in cages. We are an ever-growing, ever-expanding colossus of wishes that never make it beyond the realm of the senses besides being birds kept in protracted encasements. We are hunted and we all sense it and that makes us fidgety and nervous. We suspect each other, not being able to trace the predator, which is in actuality a thought complex interwoven into systematic enactments. We tug at each other when we sense danger and sometimes push each other “to the wall”. We also follow a strong herd instinct and take to something without anticipating the causes and effects. We are like a herd of antelopes quenching our thirst by the water hole and when suddenly one of us takes to its heels, sensing danger, all follow instinctively.

Kashmir is like a lovelorn bird sanctuary and people out of Kashmir need to realize that. We show our wounds to outsiders and they sympathize with us but we are not able to show them our deep seated fears and that is where the whole thing goes waste. We need to create our own narratives and expose the “hunters”.


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