Selective Condemnations

How does one recapitulate or recollect his childhood memories? Beautiful stories, nice picnics, wonderful dreams, extra care and respect, positive emotional development, and so on? Wow, how fanciful!

My childhood memories are a chronological order of horrors and torments. They live in my eyes like a terrible obsession. In my secret world, characterized by these terrible obsessions, my heart is on a constant battle. That is why I write and will continue doing so.

Few days ago, a video of Kashmiri boys attacking CRPF men in Budgam went viral. In no time, ‘prime time’ shows were set to condemn the assault forgetting the eight murders that had just taken place. It took no time for the jingoistic media to turn adverse and vindictive. Gautam Gambhir, India’s national team cricketer actually declared war on the people of Kashmir. He used the word “jihadis” for Kashmiri boys. Although, there was no express context of the term, but it’s implied that he used the term generally. How shameful and terrible can it get for a man who has no business in Kashmir!

When hundred Kashmiris were killed last year, there was no word of empathy from jingoists like Gambhir. Thousands of young men and women were blinded and disabled. We also crossed a century of curfewed days and it was normal. Therefore, Gautam Gambhir must hang his head in shame and apologize for the venom he has spewed.

The question whether beating of the CRPF men is justified or not is a matter of great debate. Of course, human dignity cannot be challenged at any cost whatsoever. But let’s tell the truth about India’s presence in Kashmir. If I start from my own person, I can extensively deliver firsthand accounts of the violence that I have been an eyewitness to.

During an assembly election in our village a long, long time ago, I was used by the army as a human shield, which is a globally acknowledged war crime. My father and my uncle had fled the village overnight to evade the continuous harassment and my elder brother had also escaped to some other place. I was the only male member at home. I was nine or ten. The army took me to the suspicious and sensitive places and I was left free after an hour long search. In her Independence Day speech last year, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti herself acknowledged the use of human shields in Kashmir.

Similarly, my father was used to continuous harassment by Ikhwanis, a brigade supported by the government of the time and the Army as well. How do you react when an illiterate, gun-weilding man forcibly asks your father to take off his new pair of shoes so that your father returns home barefooted? I have seen it in front of my eyes.

The stories are the chronicles of our existence. On the first of February every year, my village commemorates the deaths of its civilians who were killed defenceless in front of the whole village during a crackdown in 1992. I have also heard that an elderly man among them was tortured to death after a log was rolled over his body. The saddest part is that this news never made to the mainstream media of India, or even Jammu and Kashmir. I remember how we all kept waiting like kindergarten children for Radio Pakistan news to learn about these sad developments. This makes me a child of war, and a victim of terrorism.

These are some of the many truths that form a part of our existence. Will India’s mainstream media gather courage to tell the truth about Kashmir to its people? If they acknowledge the crimes done in Kashmir and tell the truth to its people, I don’t see anyone not condemning the assault inflicted on CRPF men. Otherwise, Kashmiris will just treat it as a patient reaction to what’s been done in the past.

P.S: “Ajeet hain, abheet hain” written on a hill overlooking Srinagar may be sacred to the mainland India. It’s not the same to Kashmir!

Published in GK:


The Ghost

​An eerie silence had dulled the spirit of the evening. Noor was engaged in his efforts trying to figure out the possibilities of the case he had been fighting for almost three years. He was a lawyer and was valued in his society for the dedication he had put towards his profession. Elderly people looked upon him as a polite and virtuous personality for his conduct and work, and young boys in the society took him as their inspiration for the justice he had been doing towards his line of work. After tiring out, he lit a cigarette and made up his mind to leave for home. He packed his black leather bag with all the important papers and went to switch off the record player but hesitated for the want of listening to the unfinished couplet that was still playing out:

“Kaa’ve val gach shaam tschayan naeri maa

Braand-e-kaeni aush waan lekhi afsaan myoun.”

(O crow! Come and dwell into the evening shadow, she might show herself

My beloved will write my story with the blood of her eyes.)

The record player was the gift of his life. He recalled how he had met his lover for the first time after passing his matriculation exams. She had been very shy and had hesitated in presenting the lovely gift. It had been newly wrapped and she had forgotten to remove the label of the famous gift seller of Srinagar ‘Nishat Gifts’ she had bought it from. They had embraced each other for the first time and had also grasped each other’s hands till evening. It was raining and they had been lucky to catch sight of the unique rainbow overlooking the mountains surrounding Dal Lake.

Noor did not remember much of the life that had passed in all its usual deed. He failed to recall something that had been haunting him for several years now.

Hard work and humility- together had made him look much older than he was. He did not get time to trim his beard and mostly forgot to maintain himself. He took less care of the person that had grown in him.

Kashmir had already received the first snowfall of the season and market was already shut. A strange silence had masked the roads and there was no one visible in the dark. As he stepped his right foot outside the gate, his sight straightaway fell on the second storey of the district hospital and by his right side an abandoned cart laid. The vendor had a connection with his memory. He raked his brain to recollect that part of his memory that had made him what he was.                                                      Confusion and fantasy always run together. They are like pain and fear. They never let us rest. They make us imagine and travel across worlds we have never seen. They frustrate us at the same time. The street wore a deserted look. Everything around was white. When a car would pass by the road, the snowflakes looked dazzling in their vivacity.

 He sat down and lit another cigarette. He spread his index finger and thumb over his mouth and began to think of the night that had taken away his mother from him. He had spent that night leaning against the whitewashed window of the hospital. He had waited the whole night, praying for the recovery of his mother. She had lost her emotional responsiveness after the sudden disappearance of her husband. And at the arrival of winter that year, she had developed arthritis. When in a state of waiting, Noor had witnessed so many happenings around the street. He had seen a queue of boys, waiting for their turn to come and grab their share of the French fries the street vendor was famous for. He had also relived the time he used to sit in the queue. Such was the demand for his delicious French fries that one had to wait for fifteen minutes to get his turn.The boys of Srinagar called him ‘Lala’ with love. Not many knew the whereabouts of Lala. Some believed that he was a Nepali. The art in his hands had bowled over the Srinagar boys. When the crowd had diminished, he had seen Lala, sitting alone, across the cart. Then all of a sudden, a group of people had come to him and one of them banged him on his head. Noor had not seen anyone except a notorious man working as a major in the Indian military. 

The major was a familiar face who had been active around the streets of Srinagar for many years. People looked upon him scornfully for his bad conduct with the citizens. After watching the humiliation of Lala at the hands of military, he had tried to go down and rescue him but Dr Jan, his mother’s consultant, had grabbed him from behind, giving a miserable look. Dr Jan had not said anything to him. He had put his index finger between his teeth, chewing it intermittently for a minute or two and muttered helplessly, “Sorry Noor beta, sorry my son.”

A doomsday had befallen Noor and he had rushed in the night only to his brother’s college where he was pursuing engineering.

As he stood up after recollecting whole of his memories, he lit another cigarette. His face wore a tired smile and he began heading towards his home. The solution was at hand now. Lala, a Nepali to some, a French fries maker to some, a Bihari to some and simply Lala to some had not gone astray. He had been killed by Avtar Singh, the notorious major of the Indian military.

The following morning, before leaving for court, Noor began to look for papers and extracted the demise date from his mother’s death certificate. It added to the substance of his proof. The complexity was over. The case Noor had been fighting in the court of law for years now had already gotten an implied decision. People had come from far off places to watch the proceedings.

Each one had listened intently to the words of the judge:                                    “The nightmare for all of us is over today. Lala, the cart vendor did not disappear. He was killed by Major Avtar for gaining cash rewards and promotions. Killing of Lala has opened chapter today to the numerous disappearances that have taken place during the conflict in here. The killings of foreigners and locals and later their dubbing as militants is a slow genocide happening in Kashmir. Human Rights Watch should take a keen interest in this grave concern for humanity. I hereby give the Indian military a time of one week which is a privilege provided to the soldiers working in conflicted areas. I also congratulate Mr Noor Baba for his dedication and hardwork over the years. He’s set an example for all of us today. Wemust draw inspiration from such brave people.”

And the court room reverberated with chants, “Noor Sahab- Zindabad, Long live- Noor Saheb.” Noor returned home early that day. 

The evening back home was lively. A fresh breeze hit the windows occasionally and they were all busy in preparations for the supper.

When everyone finished their meals and went to their beds, a knock on the front door awakened his daughter from sleep. She rushed to her father’s room and informed him. He took her in his arms, patted her on the back and placed her into the bed again. When he opened the main door of his house, his eyes straightaway fell on a brownish yellow vehicle, implying that it was a military jeep. He took his right foot out and two men seemed to be guarding him from the borderings.

Noor’s doubts were cleared just as they were about to reach the army station. The armored car was damaged on the sides after facing several public attacks in the past. It was not fair to travel in a broken vehicle for carrying out an encounter. Major Avtar had pointed out to his driver before they set out this evening. The driver had paid no attention after knocking back few pegs of rum. Major Avtar did not know of anything called patience. He asked his driver to stop on the bridge that connected Raj Bagh with the city centre. The driver had heated argument with the major after he had reminded him of the plan they had made in the camp. “Stick to the plans, sir,” he murmured.

Major did not want to waste any time. He dragged Noor out of the car and started to thrash him with the butt of his rifle. He wanted to kill him. As dawn drew close, Major wanted to finish the job as early as he could. He asked Noor of anything he could do for him. What a pitiless pity!

Noor’s struggle throughout his life had made him a complete man. He stood firm and did not falter.He grumbled in a broken, tired and yet energetic voice, “I do not need your mercy. God gives and takes away life.”

He took a pen and his small diary from the right sided pocket of his kameez and wrote his final words to his wife. He handed it over to Major and requested him to deliver it to his wife. The following morning, Noor’s wife rushed to her brother’s house and informed them about Noor’s abduction. They went to the police station, registered a missing report and went here and there, wandering and wondering.                               The sky looked deep red in the evening when she returned home. When she stepped inside the yard, she saw a number of people gathered there amid shouts and wails. She was unable to understand this rapid change of milieu and nobody could gather courage to disclose the calamity that had swept over her. She opened the entrance to the backyard only to find Noor lying dead in a pool of blood. She collapsed and fell on the floor.

Major was reminded of Noor’s request in the afternoon. When he opened the letter, he could read:.                            “Jaana, Beloved, you should not stoop low in life after my departure. Remember always that hope sustains people. When I was a young boy, my father disappeared in the raids, my mother fell to arthritis. I had to work in a rubber factory in India for several years. I worked so that my brother could study. Hard work gave me a chance in life and I started to study again. With endurance and hope, God endowed me with so many good things. Life is a struggle, remember. To succeed in a process of revolution, we have to give every kind of sacrifice. I am not the only one. Do good things to people. Yours and yours, Noor.”

When Major turned over the page, he found that Noor had also quoted Rumi, “Away…beyond all concepts of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”.                             After reading the letter, Major grew restless and began to reason. He thought of Noor, his wife and daughter. He began to think of his own wife, his own daughter. He suddenly found wisdom in the words of his enemy. The restlessness grew more after he thought of delivering the letter to Noor’s wife. He had an inkling that something dangerous would happen and he began to think of the consequences.Whenever he wanted to dump the diary, his body gave strange appearances. He began to realize the fear that had already stormed inside his body. It all started getting terrible and a jinn(ghost) took possession of him.This demanded no delineation to the other members of the camp. They all witnessed it daily with their own eyes: Major crumpling abruptly, his eyes rising and falling, his head moving back and forth in a continuous manner, his body attaining the shape of a snake, his nails stretching, his teeth getting golden, his arms elongating, the blood coming out of his eyes before falling off hisbody on ground. Major badly wanted to leave. He did not want to do this job anymore. He wanted to get away with the ghost and meet his family. He booked tickets for a direct flight to California and started to live away from people.                                          The California house had a nice, large yard, and an established garden with a swimming pool. But that all looked empty. Sometimes, a giant lady would appear before him and slap him for hours on both sides of the face. At times, he would sleep on his bed in the night and find himself lying in the bathroom next morning. Sometimes, a brunette with large nails would throw him down from the flat. His children would swell and attain the shape of Noor’s daughter before him. He could not survive it and killed all of them- one after the other. One night, his wife came to him in the shape of Noor, screaming aloud, humming the quote of Rumi, scribbled on the back page of the Noor’s diary.      He wailed and wailed and was regretful of what he had done in his life. He was left with two bullets in the end and shot one at his wife and the other at his own head.                                         

 Divine justice!

“…take no life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.”~Al-Quran(6:151)>”

Note:The story is dedicated to Advocate Jalil Andrabi, who was murdered by Major Avtar Singh,a major working in the Indian military.

Published here : |Kashmir Life
(Aarif Muzafar Rather is a non-conformist, man of letters, pursuing bachelors in law from Central University of Kashmir.)

Sombre Memories, Melancholic Thoughts

Aarif Muzafar Rather
The idea hit the absent tracts of my mind while I walked along the riverside: 
Public parks are like chronicles of things from which people derive their ancestry. They are a cradle to our melancholic existence.
The more I walked along the Jhelum bund, the more absorbed I felt in the times past. We were alone then. Two young people in love.

I imagined myself as a kindergarten child counting seconds of her recovery over her agony from reading a passage from The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. We followed the articulation of the passages like two young travellers following a boulevard in the night that leads them nowhere. Kemal, the narrator, who is in love with Fusun, a beautiful shop girl, and is going to be married to the aristocratic Sibel, is in conversation with his father when his father narrates to him the story of his unrequited love. Just when we were about to reach the end of the passage, we both sighed, muttering on a hurtful note,“How terrifying life can be, how empty it all is!” until we found the same expression written at the end of the passage. We felt both surprised and hurtful until she muttered in a beautifully low voice that touched the corridors of my heart, “The language of love and sorrow, my dear, is the same to all the humankind.”

On our days in general, we would cross the footbridge near the historic SP Museum, enter our world of melancholy and feel overjoyed while walking under the shades of beautiful Chinars. It’s peculiarly beautiful how the two places look entirely different, separated only by a bridge. If one looks at the two places keenly, the one on the side of the museum is open or common, unbearable in summers and winters both, busied by a nonstop traffic and sorrowfully made ugly by the perils of unpleasant occupation.

The other side of the world is indescribable in the language of a poet. There is peace, wonder, love, enthusiasm, and above all melancholy. The shades of the Chinars make way to Peerzoo, the place Agha Shahid Ali had walked in his youth. I thought at times how he would have walked the road, lost in his own aura, smoking some different kind of a cigarette brand while sitting on a secret bund. Perhaps he had written his lament on Rizwan on the same bund; who knows! But it is certain that his fragrance still holds the place in a promise of hope.

On any dull day in my life, I would lay my hand on Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. While living in my dormitory I would enquire from literary zealots if they had read the book but every time I did the same it turned out to be a wasteful exercise. I so much wanted someone to discuss with me Toru Watanabe’s love for Naoko, the two characters in the novel. In this wasteful exercise, I would imagine myself as Toru and envy him so much that I took pleasure in naming places in Srinagar after those in the novel.

Certain places are unique without knowing why. I would call my woman during any time in the day, take her around the bund road and sit near the Lala Sheikh restaurant till she covered her face and made herself into a boy and enter the small café to drag hard on cigarettes between sips of tea. This always applied to any journey of Naoko and Toru. A few footsteps away, one could get the best coffee in the world and sip the same on ridges made above the bund while songs of Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan kept playing inside small cafes. This always made us feel like sitting on some peak on a large Japanese building as two young people. Alone. Far away from the world.

Every story has an end, but dear reader, my story has no end. This is no memoir, but a fiction. OK. We parted. But this won’t do. Let me finish it my way:

I visit the Jhelum bund sporadically, I visit the Jhelum park too. I sit across the bridge near RajBagh. The bridge too is a river now. Days are dull facts. Night is a countdown timer. Sky above is a blanket of black clouds. My life is taking path of all the beautiful novels. But I see the fragrance of hope while walking along the bund. I see Agha Shahid Ali talking to me, repeating the Persian phrase, “This too shall pass.” I imagine him repeating in his own aura, “This too shall pass.”

Link here:

Waiting- A Fable

By : Aarif Muzafar Rather

I waited there- staring at the moon. It looked brimming blue making the dullest of things in its way bright and lively. It made slow movements that I could never read. I stared. I waited.
I counted stars over my head, making myself believe what was happening by the other side of the park would soon be over. I counted. I waited.
And then she stood up defeating the crowd in her way. Through the clouded labyrinth I spotted the woman with long hair. I gazed at her red leather coat, fascinated at the squares stitched on it. She spotted me at times, throwing her gaze here and there. She cupped her face into her soft hands, making her hair fall down in distress. I could feel her convincing someone. I watched. I waited.
I turned to the riverside, evading the sight of people who were unknown to me. The street beside looked deserted and the walls of the shops were lit by cars passing by intermittently. I fixed my sight on the mundane surroundings as if listening to a fairy tale. I waited.
I was sure enough to persuade myself that I wanted her. The silence around my eyes only grew heavier in the thought of winning her against all the odds. There she was. The girl wearing the red leather coat. I watched her from a distance.
Jhelum Park? Why did she choose evening time to meet people? And why this place? I could not focus on things and my heart grew heavier in the thought of having a conversation with her.
Meanwhile, a car passed by the road playing a Jim Morrison song:

“On our moonlight drive, baby

Moonlight drive.”

The music went on playing:

“Come on, baby, gonna take a little ride

Down, down by the ocean side

Gonna get real close

Get real tight

Baby gonna drown tonight

Goin’ down, down, down.”

A departing metaphor-

“We all wait for people, wanting to make them understand us or make ourselves understand them, love us, cure us of all the ills. But alas…!,” I thought to myself.
I thought again, letting my desperation tumble:
That girl wearing the red leather coat. I want to dissolve myself into the pores of her skin, burn myself in the desire of my passion for her. Bath myself with the sweat of her body. Die in my love for her. Love her down. Deep down. Down to her bones. To the soul. Ashes to ashes.
I wandered. I wondered. I waited.
I could see her walk away behind the large tree situated right to the mosque. I lit a cigarette, dragging hard on it, counting every puff like a child counting stones in her kindergarten to remember numbers. I counted again. I waited.
From a distance, I could see the crowd diminish. She looked at me and I stood there, waiting, wanting to hear from her.
To my fantasy, she was a lifelong companion, a person who had been with me for ages. But alas…!
Now when she was finished with the people, I stood on my chair, wanting to hear from her. I gazed again, at the squares stitched on her red leather coat. She came closer and I got up breaking my silence. I muttered in a soft voice:
“Can I wait for you tomorrow again? Here at this place.”

She smiled, curled her hair with both the hands and walked away. I stood there waiting.

©Aarif Muzafar Rather

Pic and publishing link: Jajeer Talkies website.

Cover pic, Foot Bridge, Srinagar : ©Aarif Muzafar Rather

Flood-The Ultimate Heartbreaker

Four years ago:
It happened on our trip to Pahalgham when I first met Nargis.She was also on picnic with her school as was declared by the broach fastened to her tie.
I was resting myself against a deodar tree when I first noticed her gaze.She was walking with a book under her arm and I was already reading one by Hosseini.She did not lower or evade her gaze and I felt there was something as we exchanged a grin.
A hundred girls of her age passed by the tree I was resting myself against but Nargis was aloof.A young lady of literary taste,she seemed to be bounded by her otherworldly character with her kohled black eyes,which were as deep as an ocean,her chin length frontal hair,which she helped behind her hair,over and over.She seemed shy and silent,still as a lake.
It would be a matter of curse if I go on describing her because it all lied in her eyes.A woman guided by a literary zest is always tough to describe,infact indescribable,because beauty lies in her eyes.Her eyes spoke stories,volumes,bulks,books and so on.
Across the tree,I lit cigarettes and when I took long,deep puffs,she gazed at me like a chain-smoker who has not puffed even a single shot for days.”Perhaps,she wants to puff some shots or maybe she is a fan of Anne Sexton,”I thought to myself.
I also carried a label of pride within the people I was living.To my friends,I was a boy who loved to be with himself only,with the books and the packets of cigarette.I was a boy who did not talk much and to whom every girl was unacceptable and of worthless interest.But this time,I was pretty sure of having abandoned every label I carried.I was pretty sure of losing myself to a girl I had seen just moments before.A novel sensation had already sparkled my heart and I felt an intense urge of talking to her.
I started the issue and in no time we were so friendly to eachother.We introduced ourseleves to eachother and began sharing the knowledge of literature each had.She threw bouncers of Kahlil Gibran’s poetry and I outclassed her with the yorkers of Beloved Rumi.
We did not share so much of time in between though,but we shared our mail addresses and I was overwhelmed with joy and sensed a colossal craving of letting her know the truth I felt for her and about that first moment which had left me wild.I wanted to tell her how special she was.
The following day,I checked my mailbox and was glad to see her messages and good wishes.I did not hang back myself in enquiring about the melancholic personality she carried and she straightaway told me about her father who being a political prisoner had spent whole of Nargis’s life in some jail in the Indian state of Rajasthan.She told me about the torturous wait she had to suffer while waiting for the January of each year because it was the month she used to travel all the way to Rajasthan and meet with her father.Unlike other girls of her age,she seemed to be so serious.My God!So serious.I resigned myself to emotions and did not try to get too close.
We talked of Kashmir,politics,books,changes and everything we would encounter during our talks.With no genuine people around her,maybe she found comfort in sharing stories and experiences with me.
Once,she did not message me for a month and I would go through my mailbox every night to read her messages over and over.I still remember the last message of that month in which she had shared a quote from The Reluctant Fundamentalist,”Power comes from becoming change.”
After that,pure and warm feelings kept flowing through our intermittent e-mails.The philosophical quality and the depth of insights all the great persons I had read reflected from the words she used to send me.
She was very clear in her approach as she wanted me to become a profound man who would never bend down in life and carry on as a warrior in the atmosphere of any kind.But she was in a way unaware of the change I had already attained in her chase and memory.I had already attained my writer-self in her memory.
24 June,2014(1 a.m.):
Our sporadic e-mails continued till a momentous midnight of 24th June,2014.
Yes,24th June,2014,1 a.m.:The date and time I remember very well.It was a moonlit night and I was checking my mailbox which I had not done for quite a long time.Nargis had messaged me in abundance and in one of the messages,she had dropped her phone number.
I smiled to myself and was happy to know about the respect she had started to pay towards my feelings.
Without thinking much,I dialled her number.My God!That was my first ever talk with a girl on phone.She complained about the delay I had made while responding to her text.She also told me that her eyes had halted to make movements while waiting for my phone call.
We talked about so many things.We went from family to friends,college days,books,authors and many other things.I told her about my town,my college and my studies.I told her about the struggles I had gone through in the track of her sweet memory.
I did not hesitate myself in sharing powerful and passionate quotes from The Unbearable Lightness Of Being because I wanted to tell her what I felt for her.I wanted to tell her of the loveliness her soul had.
Thereafter,we would talk for hours and go random in our talks.We would share the day each had gone through.
I would tell her of the madness I had moved into in search of her beautiful soul and of the deepness her eyes carried.
Eid al-Fitr,2014:
Finally,we met and it was actually her idea to meet.It happened on the eve of Eid.
She had already become my subject and my prose but we differed on our subjects because Kashmir was so dear to her.I did not deviate from literary talks and kept every word of my true affection unexpressed because it was what shaped my prose and I loved to do it in my dreams only.We went from Kalhana to the Pandit Literature and from Maqbool Bhat to Agha Shahid Ali.In a word,we went from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.We seldom talked of the differences and interests we had in our tastes because true love is devoid of differences and interests.True love is a communion of souls.
September 6,2014:
Greater Kashmir reads:
The headline:Floods wreak havoc across JK.
We had talked earlier that day on phone and I messaged her by the evening,”You alright?”She messaged back after an hour,”I had come to RajBagh with my aunty and water level is increasing only.We are helpless.Perhaps,a day or two.”
In no time,mobile networks got suspended and I could not respond to her message.The line,”Perhaps,a day or two” did not hurt me much because we had exchanged so much of texts like this in the past and being a fan of Ghalib,things like this were obvious from her side.
The following day,I tried to make a call but there was no response.There were no bars,no network indications and I was left frustated in a state of misery.
Seconds have passed,minutes have passed,hours have passed and days even but Nargis is no where in the sight.Perhaps,the deadly floods have withered away her beautiful soul.That very text,”Perhaps,a day or two” troubles my mind all day long and I keep on weeping all day long.I dial her number thousand times a day but there are no answers.I wait for the ‘hello’ which had already changed my life but the phone call always ends with howls,”This number does not exist,this number is out of reach.”
Then in conditions of helplessness,death speaks to me and my heart ceases to function.Restlessness grows and I muster courage to talk to death.I ask it to murder me like it murdered my Nargis,poor Nargis but “death comes,but does not come.”
There are a million words to share,a million stories to tell about the Kashmir which was very dear to my Nargis.Unfortunately,she has disappeared to the destiny-unknown.
Prose piece:
I sit across that bridge
Near RajBagh
My home is a river
Day is a dull fact,a sharp fantasy
Night is a countdown timer
Sky above is a blanket of clouds-so black
For I fear my sighs may not reach The Creator
Worried-I am not
For I am in communion
With my beloved
In the communion of souls.

(Published here-

“Love Jihaad – Zindabad”

“Brother, What brought you here to this jungle of Assam? You have been languishing here for days. What brought you here?”
I do not remember much. Infact, I remember nothing except the sense of remorse I am filled with. Please give me some water.
“Sure. Take this please. We have a well nearby. I am a hunter and when I saw you resting here the other day, I could not leave you alone. Last night, your feeble lips mumbled so many words. I could not remember them except a few like,”Love Jihaad-Zindabad” ”
So, fate has now taken me to Assam. I can feel my left eye is completely damaged and I can realize how weak I am to make a movement. But, but, why, why did they leave me!I mean Why. Did. They. Leave. Me!They should have done the same with me. If lovers deserve to be punished, punish them equally.
“You too? That means someone killed your partner? ”
Ah! My brother, it is a long tale. But yes, I will share it with you because Jyoti wanted me to tell the tales to people I had written for her. She wanted me to tell the world songs which were filled with so much of hope and promise. By the way, did you take my identity card?
“Yes, here it is. So, you are Aamir from Maharashtra?”
Yes. Aamir from Maharashtra. I was an engineering student in NIT, Srinagar when I first met Jyoti. She introduced herself as a regular reader of my poetry that used to appear in the dailies sporadically. We had also been batch mates in a coaching institute in New Delhi. She remembered the poems even that I had written.
You see. There is a wrong notion set into the minds of some people about traditions. Why not keep those ideas aside and live in a feeling of togetherness! Can it harm anyone? Will it kill the goons who take themselves to be the only advocates of God’s word and have taken people to be donkeys.
Oh! Sorry. Please bear with me. I am not a loser at all but there is a conflict within the head and I cannot listen to my heart. I cannot even convince it to keep quiet. And yes, after getting broken on every path of life, you tend to listen to your inner feelings. But remember one thing, your head would already have lost it.
You see the pair of pigeons on the tree there, kissing each other without any guilt. They are only getting closer and loving eachother boundlessly. That’s how I loved my Jyoti. And she loved me too. Every time. Unconditionally.
I have reached too far into my thoughts. I shall take you back again. So, when we were in NIT, Srinagar, she added me to her Facebook and we chatted occasionally with each other. With so much of interest and the things she knew about me, I too started developing interest in her. It actually happens when someone loves you. You have a feeling that the person must be loved too.
Brother, did you ever fall in love?You must have and I feel everyone is in love throughout his/her life.Tell me, otherwise, what sustains people. Everyone must fall in love. Infact, love is a revolution in itself. And When you love someone, you love to play with metaphors and infact, metaphor sets the beginning of love. So, she too had written a lot of poetry for me.
She could not resist much then and it happened on the eve of Diwali when I accompanied her to a temple in Srinagar. She came out after finishing her prayers and gave me a tight hug. She did not leave me for a moment and you know, a poet has learnt humility in his life, he always succumbs to emotions and that’s what happened to me. She loved to do it her way otherwise there could have been a formal propose too. She left for her hostel in a rickshaw whispering to me,”I cannot live without you.”
Jyoti had a dynamic personality of a mature, decent, pure lady. She usually wore a typical Kashmiri dress thanks to the amazing Kashmiri culture we had adapted ourselves to. Ah! She was a beautiful lady.
When I returned to my hostel, I phoned her the following day and we went to the Mughal Gardens of Srinagar. She definitely was in a wait to hear the words,”I love you too” but in a way it was known to both of us that we loved eachother limitlessly, boundlessly and like lovers should love. There was a fear and a growing uncertainty when I whispered into her ear,”So, when are we going to marry?” I had an overwhelming desire of conveying it to her because I wanted to be with her in a home. Only her.
It troubled her so much because when we were in third year of our course, her brother came to Srinagar with her Muslim wife who was also from Gujarat and had rebelled against the family.
You see, we Muslims are so liberal in our approach. The girl was not forced by her parents for anything. They had decided to go with her happiness and had allowed her to marry with Jyoti’s brother. But Jyoti’s father, being a proud Hindu, a proud Savarkar follower, had the duty of managing caste system and homogenity in the Hindu race.
When they were with us in Srinagar, we arranged a room for them. They lived happily and the girl’s parents paid her occasional visits.
Now tell me frankly: Does love ever win? I can see that you are surprised by this question. My answer to this question would be ‘no’.
Our third year results had just been out when the wife of Jyoti’s brother fell ill. Terribly ill. After a battle of almost two weeks in a hospital, she died.
You are getting annoyed. No worries. I will arrive at a different point. When she died, people of Srinagar gave us a patch of land for free. Otherwise, it is too tough. One has to arrange a lot of money for that. I sometimes think of the poor people of Srinagar. I wonder who gives them the money for land?
Sorry again. I deviate a lot. So, where was I? Yes, when the brother of the girl arrived in Srinagar, the grave had already been dug. He rejected their offer and asked for the location of a cremation site.
I was astonished to hear this actually. It was a real surprise for everyone. Jyoti’s brother hugged his brother-in-law so tightly and tears flowing down his cheeks, he threw his head on his shoulder and collapsed down. It was a comfort. A comfort that brought him to glory and gave him the feeling that finally he and his love had won.
But yes, I forgot to mention the people of Kashmir and their hospitality. I learned the human values and their practice from the people of Kashmir. Yes, they do have problems. Both within and from outside. They are caught in a conflict whose agencies are not known to them but except for that, they want to live in a land of non violence and humanity.
Our degree was complete but there was a beginning to the atmosphere of tension that loomed around our heads. Of separation. Of loneliness. We grew a lot of fear.
Before our last day at Srinagar, she came to my hostel room in her wedding attire. My heart danced faster and I quickly let her into my room. That night we shared our bed. She was naked and I sat next to her, gazing at her, like I gazed at the walls of my room, when in her thoughts. I held her head and kept playing with her hair for a moment. I pulled her closer to me and kissed her red lips. Limitlessly.
Like a doll, I loved her and then again, fears grew when I whispered into her hear,”So, when are we going to marry?” She came closer again and gave me a mighty tight hug. I was into her and she was into me till morning.
The following day, I accompanied her to airport and saw her off.
You are so curious to know what happened next. If a Hindu marries a Muslim or a Muslim marries a Hindu, why does it trouble someone. I mean, why should it trouble anyone.
Please think for a moment that how better can it be if interreligious relations get better. Let’s leave aside the caste. Will communal tensions grow or lessen? I think communal tensions will be over if these marriages are allowed.
You are not interested now. Curious actually, you are. Yes, when I reached home, I told my parents about Jyoti. My mother felt a bit worried but father straightaway went to Gujarat to the house of Jyoti.
After a few days of his voyage, father came back home disappointed. They had not treated him well and if I tell you about the taste of my father, he hates two kinds of people. I mean people guided by fascism and chauvinism.
It was my turn now to visit Gujarat and I had the idea of running away with her. We left around 1 a.m in the night and reached the local railway station. I had plans of going to Srinagar after reaching some safe place first.
Traditions, in any society play their part in running administration and politics. When we reached the railway station, we were stopped by a group of heavily armed men and this followed the arrival of police. A huge man amongst them phoned Jyoti’s father and in a state of pin drop silence, he said to him something like this,”Dada Sahab will get angry. I do not need her. I do not need renegades inside my hut.”
My hands were tied and my neck was also tied to a tree. A huge man came with a heavy stick and gave a severe blow on Jyoti’s head.He repeated it three times. She fell unconscious and was only able to utter,”Love Jihaad-Zindabad”. I responded to her with loud and energetic chants. After that they did the same to me and someone dropped me here.
I can see something in your eyes. Did it fill you with guilt? Must have?
“Brother, I pray for the victory of love on earth. May God bless you!”

One Night Under Siege-A Short Story

It was dusk and I was sitting with Shahid,a childhood friend,on the banks of Wular Lake.It was the place we often visited and loved to play games at.We would pick up pebbles and throw them up with our hand upside down to catch them again.The one finishing all the pebbles in one stroke without dropping one out of his hand would emerge victorious.Sometimes,we would skim stones over the surface of the lake.But that evening was disparate.Shahid was worried about the health of his mother who had lost her emotonal responsiveness after the disappearance of her husband in the 90’s.I could feel Shahid descended in a curious taste of melancholy.I pulled him closer and let him calm his head on my shoulder.We were both gazing at the sky with burning passion and desperation in our eyes.He remembered some verses from a poem by beloved Ghalib by heart and read them aloud to me.It was something we tried to find solace in and on our way,we talked poetry,we walked poetry:
“Thousands of desires,each worth dying for…
Many of them I have realized…yet I yearn for more.”
We were waiting for the Muezzin’s call to Azaan and to our surprise,the loudspeaker in its rough sound gave out a howl with bad news as its concern.
“No one will come out of their houses.Curfew is in force till next announcement.Anyone observed defying the curfew will be shot dead,”the mike closed with a soldier crying out from the background,”Do it fast,stupid.”
Words failing to come out of our mouths,we bid farewell to eachother.Shahid was reluctant to see me off but I could not stay with him in a state of hue and cry.
“They are liscenced to kill,”he said leaving quickly through an alley.Silence prevailed and at times,hoots raised out of the camps assigned in our town as loud as a thunder.
As I entered into my room to find my phone and ask Shahid about the health of his ailing mother,it had been left abandoned on a table and as I opened the lock it did not show any network indicaton or bars.I suspected my brother might have done something to it but my phone’s inbox revealed to me the reality and I was confronted by a message:
“Mobile services in your area have been suspended due to security concerns.”
I collapsed to my own Achilles’ heel and was left frustated with my hands on my knees looking downward like a lover whose heart has been crushed by the heartlessness of the beloved.
It was the separation of Shahid that cut me apart.He was the guy who had shared all the moments of life with me.Happy moments.Sad moments.We had had them together.He was the one who could do anything for me.Anything!
Midnight arrived and I leaned over my bed trialing on and on to catch a sleeping spot.
“Will not Shahid be aching for his mother?
Will they be having medicine at their home?
Will not he be missing me?”
These questions kept nagging my mind till I finished my last cigarette.I tried to dwell into some kind of a dream and fool myself with the idea of thinking of the most cherished place I wanted to visit.
Somehow,my mind took wandering into the sea of dreams and I toured miraculous peaks of Kashmir.I moved past the oodles of deodars,lush and verdant;each one a step to plots I had never gone through.I could see cuckoos flying by the snow,an old man blowing a water pipe far louder than the buzz of a drone,rivers,frozen lakes and children playing cricket on them.Weavers were fabricating kangris.My dream only grew better and took delightful turns when I could not see any master and slave and love and happiness had got the people into its fold.Flowers bloomed and people lived in harmony.Greed and hegemony were not in the dictionaries even.Bad blood was seldom a call.
Dawn appeared and a ray of light pierced through the solely window of my domicile.Birds started chirping and singing and I yearned for a cockcrow which always destroyed my ill feelings of infidelity.
I clustered some valor to stand up and unclose the solely window of my domicile.I could see a number of soldiers loading AK-47s,a curfewed populace,worrying faces around check-posts,children wired in concertina,columns of poplars and over these-the barrel of an AK-47 pointing exactly at me.
I was left suspended between my dreams and my existence:My dreams are beautiful and my existence a condition of dashed hopes.
Where are the deodars and the cuckoos?Where is the old man and his water pipe?Where lie the children playing cricket?Why this hate and slavery?Why this otherization?
“Oh!It was just a dream.An illusion!A lie that had no legs,”I grumbled disrupting lips.
Witnessing the hate,I took up a screw in my hand and penetrated it through the white-washed wall of my room writing in bold letters,”YOU CAN DESTROY MY LIFE,NOT DREAMS.”It did not fill my appetite and I went on writing an anonymous quote,”YOU CAN KILL OUR MEN,NOT IDEAS.”
I fell on my bed again to take a nap and tour the miraculous peaks of Kashmir.

( published here- )