If My Mother Could Speak to Me from Kashmir, She’d Say Stay Strong
I am writing to you to know if you’re doing well and if your spirit and courage are still intact.
Article 370 was abrogated on 5 August 2019, effectively ending Kashmir’s special status, as well as snapping all lines of communication. I hail from Srinagar and have been unable to speak with my family. It’s been an emotional and troublesome time for me; making me wonder what my mother would say, if she could speak to me.
Salam jigar mera (Greetings, my beloved),
This letter is not just to you but to all the daughters of Kashmir who haven’t been able to get in touch with their families. The past one week hasn’t been easy on us. A cordon sanitaire by the government on 5 August brought with itself abysmal threats, disappointments, and uncertainties.
Your abu often wakes up at night with uneasiness. Palpitations and breathlessness plague him. I am writing to you to know if you’re doing well and if your spirit and courage are still intact.
Like in Agha Shahid Ali’s poem, we live in a country without a post office and I am not sure if this will reach you. But I want you to be strong and patient, and come out of this victorious.
I vividly remember the day when your abu and I got married. The city was under curfew. There were no cell phones back then and I wasn’t sure if he would come. But he did – not on a white horse but in a police jeep. He had secured a curfew pass and that was when I first talked to your abu under a veil. He told me about authoritarianism. You weren’t born in pleasant circumstances either.
On 8 May, 1991, two days before you were born, army personnel opened fire on a procession outside our main gate. Twenty innocents succumbed to bullets at Khanyar massacre.
With you in my belly, I was rushed to the hospital well before time; for who knows if we could go later. Soon after, you were born, unaffected by the violence outside, you brought in calm and truthfulness to our lives. I knew in that instance, that more than me, your life’s circumstances will mould you. Your home will not be your first school, your school won’t be either; your experiences will teach you.
Our Journey Hasn’t Been Easy, She’d Tell Me
They were right when they told you that I was crying at your birth. I want to tell you that I didn’t do it because you were from the fairer sex. You know how women in our family have made us proud and I couldn’t have thanked Allah enough for giving me you. I cried because I knew I am bringing a child into a world of uncertainties and vulnerabilities, a world which is filled with the sound of bullets and the cries of protests.
I knew I am bringing you into a world where news of forced disappearances and women turning half-widows is not uncommon. I welcomed you to the fog of war with tears in my eyes.
I remember you told me your calculus wasn’t strong because of the lockdown on all the educational institutes when you were in class 12 due to the Shopian rape case. But your first-class Bachelor in Mathematics is a testimony of the hard work you put in to be at par with others. This was when you had grown aware of forced disappearances in Kashmir. I denied having a half-widow in our family when you asked me. I am sorry for hiding Rehana api’s incident from you.
No matter how much I tried not to, you were informed and aware of the situation in Kashmir and what had befallen us.
While your college mates teased you for being from a privileged class for your ability to take multiple flights back home, little did they know that in the India of 2019, a constant privilege would be the religious identity. And you have always been the minority in that regard.
Last year, you expressed your desire to get married to a non-Kashmiri. Of course, your abu was apprehensive of this and had multiple sleepless nights. Despite that he went ahead with your decision, taking a leap of faith in humanity. You came to me with your state subject and said, “Mamma I am going to lose this, but this will not make me any less of a Kashmiri”. I take pride in knowing that you mattered to Manzer, your partner as more than just a piece of land. I am hoping there are more like him.
I want you to tell them the kind of fascism which has fallen upon Indian democracy. I want you to also warn them that if today it is us, tomorrow it could be them. I don’t know what the times ahead have in store for us, but I want you to remember that we won’t die without securing self-determination.
Waiting for spring to come soon.
Beh khodayas hawaal! (May God be with you)
(The author is a CSR professional based in Delhi. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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