August 3, 2010

Starry Night

It is early August and the beautiful summer season is into its maturity with flowers blossoming in my garden. Tonight the sky is clearer than usual and exposing all shinning wonders hidden beyond imagination. The stars appear brighter than they usually are; something is different about this night. Maybe they have assembled to bear witness to how paradise will burn into ashes.

Turning the head other way, and there they are moving in the sky as if being summoned by God himself. A cluster of shooting stars moving across the dark sky and slowly fading away behind the mighty mountains which limit my vision. I keep searching for the horizon and the shooting star but the farthest I see are the peaks of the snow clad Himalayas.

I hear voices echoing in the valley, this is nothing like I have heard before. An entire population singing in unison; singing as if charmed by the Pied Piper himself. They sing of their brotherhood, they sing of their patriotism, they sing of their nation, they sing of their freedom, they sing of their sacrifice, they sing of their martyrdom, they sing of their valley.

Decades of anger and frustration, an entire generation of oppressed and tortured unfortunates on the streets. A generation of my peers, a generation I have grown up with. A generation which has seen their fathers murdered, their brothers tortured, their sisters raped, their mothers widowed. An entire generation of youth which has grown up in fear of the men in camouflaged army uniforms. ‘

They gave up guns and bullets for a promise of better future, a future where they saw their freedom and prosperity. A promised ‘azaadi’. Twenty years later and the promises still remain unfulfilled. They have had enough of their leaders and their so called country. The limit has been reached and breached; they will no longer remain mute spectators to oppression. The fear of death is no longer a fear, they accept death as if martyrdom. Children, men and women all hand in hand, an entire population of ordinary unarmed Kashmiris protesting on streets for their freedom, fighting for their basic human rights, for their right to democracy and self determination of their nationality.

The bullets fail to deter their march past Indian paramilitary camp after camp, one falls and three more take his place and this time only with louder slogans and harsher tone. Young blood gushes through the gutters and smoke fills up the air. The frightening memories of losing their beloved to the men in uniform still haunts them, maybe this is what has made their hearts so strong that even the bullets don’t seem to stop them. The memories which never seem to die, reminders of their sacrifices. They ask of the 90,000 brothers which they lost to Indian forces, the 7000 brothers that disappeared in Indian custodies, the 100,000 children that have been orphaned, the 22,000 women that have been widowed, the 10,000 women that have been raped. They ask of their childhood which was spent hiding in the closet and now their youth which is lost in pelting stones at an enemy which was supposed to be a friend.

This is an entire generation which has been misunderstood by the rest of the patriotic India, which sees stone pelting as riots and mobs while ignoring and overlooking the basic causes of this anger and frustration.

Suddenly a massive explosion wakes me up from this procrastination and deafening screams of my brothers being murdered are heard from all directions; and yet the mountains refuse to stop the echoing voices in my ear”Sarfarosho Chalo...Cheenke lenge Azaadi Azaadi”

This time I see a shooting star blazing the night sky and I close my eyes and ask God for myself.

As I get ready to go inside and have a nice dinner with my family; tears fill my eyes and I can’t make out if it is the tear gas explosion which is making me cry or my inner conscience which asks of me what I have done for my valley.