“As the weatherman forecasted snow in the next 24 hours, so did my reminder alarm remind me of my friend arriving from overseas in an hour. I immediately got off from the cozy fire place, ditching my brewed coffee and my inked quill and put on my coat and my boots, when suddenly this compassionate voice of my mother from inside of the next room came in, ‘don’t forget to put on your coat and gloves.’ This voice had already made me feel warm. I reached the airport in time luckily with all overjoy and received my friend with the hugs and love. We were both excited to see each other after such a long time. The last time we had seen each other was our high school farewell party. Then as the things kept boiling back here in hometown, her parents decided to move out. But, now it didn’t matter, all we realised in that moment was that we were together ,talking to each other while looking at each other’s face without dependence of wires connecting us or without any cyber space of invisible fibres. We had so much to catch up. But the first thing that caught the attention was the one where we had left years back.
‘Kashmiras manz kith halaath woen (how are the things in Kashmir now)’ , she asked me struggling hard enough with her Kashmiri but couldn’t hide her twang that had taken over the archaic accent. She tried to keep our conversation as much native as she could, even more than what we normally used to back then. I could sense that she wanted to re-fit in the hometown. She didn’t want to feel left out after a gap of so many years and to her, language seemed to be an accessible way to fill the void and meet the roots. I thought in heart of hearts that as a witness bearer of the wounds and trauma this place has been through, I deserved empathy, but here the case was getting reversed with my friend. So I tried to be compassionate and replied to her question which now seemed apprehension for her home rather than mere curiosity, ‘Yuth trayoth tyuth chu na bilkul’ (not same as you left). This positive reply glistened her face somehow. She wanted to know more. So, I asked her if she remembered a dictum that we used to hear from our parents and grandparents since our childhood, ‘yi chi peer vaer’ (this is the land of sufis) (she smiled and nodded affirmatively). This continues to be the land of Sufis but now age is no bar, only knowledge and dedication is.
The minds that were oppressed for years are stretching out from the cocoon of ignorance ,to rise up again in the land of intellect and creativity. Even after being criticized and questioned, people wake up every morning with increasing faith in God and greater hope in heart to chase a new dream every day which they walk with valor, to overcome the fears and accomplish their dreams. They smile when they hear a word of love, they also feel the radiance of happiness and they do feel sting of pain. The terrifying memories of gunshots in the day and that knock on the door in the dark of cold night, with the creepy sound by the window might try to horrify but people still dare to sleep with no malice but only God in heart and dreams in their eyes. They feel the constraint of the scars but now that pain has taught them the beauty of art. The muse of cries still haunts their strong souls, but it has mentored them to sing the eulogy of hometown. Kept under the thumb, with broken wings, muted intermittently, their speech has been caged within the forts of might behind the reasons of helplessness and concern, but now they have learnt the words capable enough to jump off the gag of hypocrisy.
The sufferings never made them any less human. Their blood still bleeds red, though. Air around was polluted with malevolence but snow here is still frosted white. Liberty has many meanings here, but the wind still blows carefree cutting any angle it wants to. We are all still struggling, but we are doing great.” With this, my driver blew the horn and I realised we had reached home and my dear friend wondered how she had already started her tour with a beautiful day.
“hum mit ke bhi na mit sakey, dard tou bas fasana tha,dhoob gaye hotey kabke warna, agar bhagi ban na gawara na hota”