Our Social Contraceptive

Arshid Malik

The Drama:

Kashmiri – on a person-based sociological pivot- is perhaps another word for a slicklyconservative. My widespread discussions/interactions with the public in general as well as pockets of intelligentsia of Kashmir (none from outside the valley – emphasis) on the topic have ascertained and affirmed the fact that we are very conservative, slickly conservative.But while we speak of it, what actually does being slickly conservative mean. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines the term conservative as “beingopposed to great or sudden social change; showing that you prefer traditional styles and values”.Attach slick to it and you go it. To case it all, we use conservatism as a social contraceptive.

Talking of traditional styles and values, my take is that even though we are predisposed to chatter endlessly about such things to outsiders, we eventually make no good. We have, so to say, let go off almost everything traditional that could and should have been part of our lives and value systems, even though on the surface there is hardly any sign that reflects this fact. So, we are not conservative. Then what are we? Slickly conservative.

By attempting to assume a sense of conservatism we slickly meanto hold things back; to keep everything hush, hush. But then I may be wrong or sentimentally prejudiced. Maybe we are actually rigid to change like some remote tribes known to inhabit this planet (these are some wise people I am talking about)who do just that in order to avoid being misled and eventually marginalized? Well this is no forest we are living in and we have access to plush extravaganzas that the modern world has to offer. The truth is that while clinging like monkeys to the trees of traditions we have moved on; we have divested off values – whether for the better or the worst, we have changed but in all that be we just won’t even realize that we have for then we would be standing naked in front of a mirror. That’s why we tend to resist detachment from the very notion of our make-believe conservative “world”. When we do that we tend to be slick, we tend to cheat since we are neither being honest nor modest. In that sense we use “conservative” as a social contraceptive so that our illicitness is not fertilized into a socially visible entity.

We are, all the time, declaring war against change and for this the “mean” tool, the master instrument we use, is our religion. “We are true Muslims, true to the core”, is a proclamation that will resound if you start listening to the echoes emanating from the dark and shabby alleys of our existence. Since we pray and oblige to almost everything that our religion demands we have created a farce on the face of it. We have, and continue to, bring shame to our religion by claiming to be its “soldiers” while indulging in everything that it prohibits. Having indulged, we go to the mosque and assume we have “wiped the slate clean”. Who are what we assume we are “conning” eludes me. Another aspect of our slick conservatism if that we are conservative in a very “Other” sense. We are conservative when we find someone to blame, the “Other” that I speak of. We always find someone to square the blame on but ourselves.

The Curtain Call:

A school in Baramulla. “A librarian sexually molests dozens of girls aged between nine to sixteen years”, newspapers reported a day or two back. The staggering truth is that the owner of the school who also happens to be the principal and a former chief education officer shields “the culprit while he knew about his wrong doings all along”. The accused himself turns out to be a former head librarian of district Baramulla. The librarian somehow manages to keep the molested girls hushed up till one brave heart reports the matter to her parents. The father of the molested girl who reported the librarian in, approaches the owner of the school narrating the facts to him while seeking immediate action into the matter and the owner demands that the molested swear upon the Quran that she was molested and then only a compliant will be registered. He later on uses his influence in the area to sweep the whole thing under the carpet. Meanwhile, the mother of the brave heart girl reports the matter to the police and the librarian is nabbed and put behind bars. He is booked “under Section 354 which carries minimum 3 years of imprisonmentand maximum 7 years, including fine”. What do we see here? A former head librarian in some sort of a connivance with a former chief education officer sexually abuses young girls within the school precincts. “Sexually molested” is the term the press reported while the paedophile might even have raped someor all of them – the usage of words is subservient to our too conservative attitudes. I guess the librarian must be quite old and I also smell that the owner of the school might have been part of the violations himself lest why would he not sack the librarian. Now the number of girls sexually molested has not figured anywhere – perhaps the whole lot. The lot molested will suffer for ages, weighed down by the fact that they were sexually abused and that they could never tell anyone, is the only psychological inference I can draw.Those whose names would perhaps have been made public will stand stigmatized. What shocks me is not that the fact that a paedophile librarian was abusing girls in a school for my premeditated assumption is that this such things must be happening in multiple schools across the Valley, what sends shivers up my spine is that the “patron saint” of the paedophile, the owner of the school demanded that the molested girl swear upon our Holy Book. I wonder what kind of a Muslim he is. How the thought even occurred to this moron, I wonder. He should be stoned to death for blasphemy – isn’t that what we do to people who show disrespect to our religion. I am one hundred per cent sure that this aide to the paedophile librarian must have, repeatedly, made it mandatory for girls studying in the school to wear Hijab.


So much for a conservative society.


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