The Burden Of Past

Arshid Malik
Arshid Malik

Every morning when I do not go out for a morning walk, I have to watch my step for landmines. Understandably so, for when I do not go out for a morning walk, I am sleeping, rather snoozing, and in between my ferocious bouts of snoring, I start dreaming about going out for a morning walk and watching-out for landmines.

In my early morning dreams when I am actually tucked in bed and dreaming about going out for a morning walk, I have to watch my step, as I said earlier, for I have to watch out for landmines. Landmines, yes, lots of them buried under the soil that I tread. These are imaginary landmines for everything in a dream is imaginary, yet they are so very real in my dreams. I cannot judge them while I walk as that would be prejudice. I have to be cautious, lest I step on one of these buried under landmines and blow myself up into smithereens. Well, these landmines that I dream about and try to stay away from are not the usual landmines that are used in zones of conflict. These are “actually” dead people who I imagine being buried under the soil away from common knowledge, more like mass graves that have been discovered across Kashmir in the recent past.

Yes, hordes of people, murdered in cold blood, are buried under the soil which I tread in my dreams and I have every reason to stay focused so that I do not stray and step on these unknown and unmarked graves which, for me, are not practical but emotional landmines. I get nauseated in my dreams, fearing that I might sometime actually step on an unmarked grave. I certainly believe that if I actually step on one of these emotional landmines, I will blow myself up because the very idea of setting my foot on soil that actually covers up my own people who ended up dead at the hands of victimizers is life-threatening because the very idea bears the potential of an imaginary landmine projected into the emotive canvass of life as it is.

Every morning I rattle out of bed to go out for a morning walk, even though I love sleeping through the mornings, I rattle out fearing my usual habit of snoozing and dreaming about going out on a morning walk and the prospect of stepping on the landmines I have described. The friction of this emotional subterfuge has aided me in losing a pound or two in the past few decades. Only a pound or two because I usually mellow down to the idea of dreaming about going out on a morning walk which I think actually appeals to a hidden, secretive self of mine that is subliminally sadistic. So I actually end up sleeping through the mornings while I am not too tempted to rattle out and go out on an actual morning walk, besides the fact that men like me are intrinsically lazy by nature, as far as keeping fit is concerned. Thus I have only lost a few pounds in what could well be described as more than 20 years.

Coming back to the hidden and secretive sadism of my nature, I am drawn to the fact for the sake of explaining it out that people in violence-hit regions subconsciously adopt a characteristic side which is sadistic, to create a balance between the hurt that is extrusive and the one that is intrusive (potentially more dangerous). I believe almost all the people in Kashmir who have witnessed bloodshed have adopted this mechanism, even though it is quite camouflaged.

So, these emotional landmines that are very obscure and vitally crowd my early morning dreams are actually sourced by the idea of belief that people have been brutally murdered in Kashmir by state-instilled control factors over the decades – a fact that gains credence from the knowledge that thousands of people have been reported missing in Kashmir – and there is no certainty as to what actually happened to the bodies, besides the possibility that most of these bodies have been buried under the soil away from common knowledge – a factuality supported by evidence of mass graves discovered in many parts of Kashmir. This brings on the possible eventuality of a dead body having been buried under the soil practically anywhere in Kashmir which sources my imagination of dead bodies buried under the soil that I tread in my dreams. Well, they could be buried anywhere; these dead bodies of reported missing people. And there is a possibility that actually not all the people who have gone missing in the past few decades have been reported and verified thereof. There could be scores who just disappeared and are not part of any database as may be. That increases the possible saturation of actual dead bodies buried under the soil in our Valley and thereof my fear of stepping on one which is what I am trying to avoid.

My land is almost filled with imaginary dead bodies which are emotional landmines to my morning self and I am gaining weight. Now, while I try to avoid all kinds of news reportage as it further cements my imagination content-wise of my land being filled with dead bodies, I have another reason to get up late in the morning, have a quick bath and a crisp and catchy breakfast and jet to my workplace and thereof avoid my early morning pathology. Almost everything that is going on in my life as of now seems to be fetching me more and more evidence about the possibility of every inch of soil in the Valley being saturated with imaginary dead bodies and my mornings seem to get the best of me and my whole life while I lay there and dream about going out on a morning walk and watch my step for imaginary dead bodies buried under the soil which are significantly volatile to be categorized as landmines. Who wants to step on a landmine?


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