Anaahat Naad

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Archive for November 2011

A conversation with an unknown Kashmiri

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On 17th of November 2011, I had an appointment at 1330 hours at a ‘special’ venue in New Delhi. I set out from my place at 0900 hours as the ‘special’ venue was far from my place.

 I reached the venue almost one hour early. I went to the waiting hall and took a seat. After 15-20 minutes, one of the organizing members announced in the hall that the meet was postponed by 90 minutes. Many seemed annoyed by this announcement. I was also. After all, who loves to wait? I was observing things in the waiting hall. A guy sitting adjacent to me enquired about the meet. And soon our conversation started.
Mr. S: So where is your home?
This question has always been a difficult one to answer for an exile no longer has a ‘home’.
I: At present, my place is New Delhi.
Mr. S: Do you belong to Delhi?
I: No. I am from Anantnag, Kashmir.
Mr. S: Oh Great! I am from Srinagar.
And the conversation about ‘home’ has begun…
Mr. S: Kar ousukh tormut Kasheer paetimi lyeat? (When did you go to Kashmir last time?). I haven’t been to ‘home’ for last one year due to very busy schedules.
I: We were forced to leave Kashmir 22 years ago. Bu’ha tchus bhatt’e. (I am Kashmiri Pandit.)
Then we both were silent for 10-15 minutes. May be he was thinking about gloomy 1990s and the tragic story behind it.
Mr. S: Tarun’uk tcha iraad’e? (Do you have any intention of ‘return’?)
I: Aa tarun tchu wapis. Aj, pagah, suli tcheer. Kasheer tchu panun ghar. (Yes, we will ‘return’..Today, tomorrow, sooner or later..Kashmir is our home.)
We talked about almost every ‘Kashmiri’ thing — Pheran, Tcheer Chai, Haakh, Chakker, Telwour, Sheen, Wazwan etc.
The fellow Kashmiri was a bit surprised to see me talking in Kashmiri. May be it was unusual for him to see a person brought up outside the vale speaking in mother tongue.
And how can there be no discussion about politics. Every Kashmiri is a ‘political analyst’.
I: Why majority of the majority community of the valley chant ‘Azaadi’ (secession from India)? It amazes as well as amuses me. More than two decades ago, the same wanted merger with Pakistan.
Mr. S: Yes, many say so. Neither ‘Azaadi’ nor merger with Pakistan is the way forward for Kashmir and Kashmiris. At the same time, many things need to be set right. Justice has been delayed.
I was little surprised to hear that. The fellow has studied in south India and has been to many cities of India.
We agreed on the fact that sooner the justice delivered to the people (living on both sides of the tunnel), better it is for Kashmir. Though on a community level, the majority and the minority differ on several issues. We had lunch in between. He narrated a few distressing stories and how Kashmir has become a lucrative industry.
I: Every Kashmiri has a peculiar story and a poignant one.
Mr. S: I feel sad about the exodus of Pandits. It was dark period in the history of Kashmir. Inshallah, you will return soon.
I: Amen! Return we will on our terms.
We wished each other before we departed.
The meeting was fine. The postponement was blessing in disguise because it resulted in a ‘special’ meeting with an unknown Kashmiri. Was it a mere coincidence or more than a coincidence? I came back to my place and thought of ‘home’.
(Originally published in Hindustan Times)

Written by Varad Sharma

November 20, 2011 at 8:00 am