Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Dead End

Syeda looks beyond dying waters

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 35, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Sad Wash-Out

It was difficult to salvage the memory. There were different characters. There were different stories. The collective amnesia had inflicted everyone I saw around.
Watching the passing people and people pass, the drama of life and death seemed intriguing. I noticed an old couple, their eyes gleaming with a tapering eagerness. I saw a wailing mother, thinking of an appalling tragedy that has befallen her. The son she had lost had fluttered into oblivion. She was sobbing-“He’s gone.”

Unmindful of the truth in her words, I tried to stretch my hands to bring back down to earth the memory of his loss. I asked myself- “Is he really gone forever? Gone even from our thoughts?” For the fluttering was so gradual that the disappearance seemed a chimera.

I peered into the Dal Lake that used to buzz with vim and vigour. Its clear waters chanted the mirth of immaculate stories. I never knew it has gone dry and is gasping. The majestic hotels along the Boulevard never disclosed the cleft between nature and man. Sun always beautifully set over the mole hills as Zabarwan overlooked the tender drama in the air. The unfurled coloured curtains of still Shikara on the parched banks of Dal narrated the silent saga. Something was severely missing. I couldn’t guess what.

I strolled through the heart of city. New shopping complexes and squall of vehicles confused me. I am not walking around American Mall Avenue. There is so much din and noise that I don’t even hear myself. Whistles and horns break my reverie. Voices swallow me. Faces muddle me. Clueless eyes in the crowd tell me a tale without a title. I am looking for something.

The Azaan from the central mosque summoned the believers. I saw people sluggishly responding. The man with a long beard entered first, and he was also the one to come out early. He was the clerk in the nearby Government office where files hardly moved from one desk to other. The man to come out last was the fragile oldie who was the sweeper of the mosque and had lost his son in custody. I stared him, searching for a word in his shrivelled wrinkles. I couldn’t.

I boarded the bus to reach somewhere. My destination wasn’t obvious. I travelled to the last stop. The dead end. I found myself in a strange land where time was congealed and inmates were inert. They were cheery and yet gloomy. Loving as well as hateful. Religious and hypocrite both. Everything but alive. Life had taken a veiled recourse out here. Men lived and still didn’t live. The spirit of existence was absconding. Life had vanished slowly. A perfunctory breathing; a smothered wheezing. They mistook it as Life. They ate, slept and waked : mere survival decoyed their senses. Animals were absent in their territory.

With high aspirations and tastes lost, they were left intellectually debased. It was dust all over them. Everything was covered with it. It filled their existence; their world. In the middle of their Main Street, I saw a standing memorial that was shrouded in dust and cobwebs. I wiped the surface and found some peculiar words engraved on it-

“We pick up sand in our hand
And watch it trickle through our fingers
And slide over our limbs;
Our tears seep into it and disappear,
It gets entangled in our hair,
Fills our clothes,
Lacerates our lungs,
Spreads all over us,
In our bodies,
Within our souls;
It encompasses us,
This dust.”

Dust filled my eyes. My vision blurred. But I could see the jaded sun drowning in the murky waters of Dal. There was no Maharaja in the Grand Palace. No fairies in the Pari Mahal. Zabarwan was without green. The river flowing through my backyard had washed off everything. Blood. Tears. Emotions. Fear. Values. Faith.

O Gosh, I was in the familiar country! The majestic dome of Hazratbal Shrine gave me an allusion. The old couple I had seen in the beginning of my journey were in front of me. They were sullenly mute. However, the wailing woman was calm. She pointed towards the sky. I lifted my eyes and saw nothing. Even the vacuum was void. No song shivered in the air. The depths of darkness and despondency had snarled all. The memories of loss had flapped into oblivion. Life had gone for good. Death was overbearing. And memory had miserably failed. Forever!

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