Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Kashmiri Muslim writes to Bhat Sahab

Dear brother,

Kashmir was your home before I was born and will remain so much after I am gone. I, the image of a Palestinian warrior with a flag in hand stand tall in the security clashes, throwing stones, getting shot at with pellets, inhaling the tear gas and I do not complain or lament for that time has long gone. The time now is to fight back and show the world that I am not weak and the more you suppress us, the higher we’ll rise. 

I do remember the day when I walked past  your empty house, abandoned for twenty-eight years now. I remember it not by my own memory but the pictures that still hang on the wall. Your smiling face with an infant daughter and a fake god that smiles on the opposite wall, they are the only things signifying that this building was once a home. 

The house, I must say, has been more than a sanctuary for me as even the stray dog on the streets doesn’t find a way to this house. It is now a resting place for my fellow comrades, our den as we brainstorm our next plan for being a bone in the throat of the army.

They are the hooks in our skin, poisoning the blood in our veins with every passing moment. But for every speck of poison that they fill us with, we rise like cobras, the deadliest of snakes to bite them and give them their poison back.

I know that it was never your fight. The dream of Azaadi is purely our own, like the one of ‘homeland’ that shines in your eyes now. 

But the fight is greater than just you and me and the others like you just weren’t ready to accept it. I remember the calls from the mosque, asking you to leave. You needed to, for our mission could never be accompalished otherwise. 

But here we are now, twenty eight years later, still fighting the same fight, yet asking you to come back. 

But I shall not bow and apologize for making you leave your home. I shall not ask forgiveness for my fight is just and so I spread my chest, keep my head high and tell you, “Brother I am waiting with open arms. Come back.”

Don’t think that I regret all that was done. It was a need of the hour. You had to leave. But yesterday I saw my house burn down, the windows broken, the doors shelled and it stirred something in me, that loss. 

My brethren, the true ones that fight for our cause had to hide there, with my family. I didn’t know, I was out scouting the enemy. I didn’t realise when they had sneaked up on the house. I just heard the gunshots and later saw it on the news. 

4 militants and 3 civilans dead.

Civilians, how easily they erased the names of Ruksana, Ammi jaan and Abbu jaan.

Militants, how easily they degraded the life of my brothers- Zubair, Shawloor and Tawseef. 

And that house that took my father a lifetime to build is now as abandoned as your house. It’s after I slept on the porch of my house, six days after everyone had abandoned it that I realised what I hadn’t before: why you don’t wish to come back to the same house again. 

Bhat sahab, maap’ keuriv. 

It’s after I saw Abbu and ammi’s picture splashed with blood that I was forced to write you this letter. 

I’m sorry that it took me so long to realise.

A house is never just a house in Kashmir.

Your brother 

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