Listen to me, I am Kashmir.

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Dr Qayum Hamid Changal
Hamid ChangalFinally it is the dusk. It was an appalling day, all day it rained like never before. See, the roofs are not wet, they are simply holed. Confused? It rained bullets all day long, and literally rained like never before. I could listen to the moans of Ali Mohammed, shouting at his wife, “Come inside Zooni, we must try to die together.” Agonising! I don’t know they lived another day or not. But, when it was a possible last breath, they were trying to relive their first meet where they promised to die hand in hand.

Who am I? Well, I’m the mob, an individual too, and am all in between. But, most importantly, I’m Kashmir reeling under constant threat of gun. I guess you know me well. For my tourists I’m just another place to visit and deeply drown in her alluring colors and fascinating beauty. They feel my skin, but the bruised inner organs are covered under the superficial white and lush. And, for my dwellers I’m the tortured mother, discriminated and molested meeting all the requirements to feed the collective conscience of democracy.

Sometimes I’m just like a rolling stone, travel from place to place. Ever heard of a place travelling from one place to another? I know it sounds absurd, but not more absurd than my state of affairs. Someday I’m on the round table of these crooked autocrats, a few days later you shall find me making headlines in the newspapers, and sometimes I shall be dragged into the advertisements of the department of Tourism to be sold for earning certain revenue.

In the North West of Indian Subcontinent, I’m a Muslim dominated region. Part of me dwells in Pakistan, they call it ‘Azad Kashmir’ or the Independent Kashmir. But, it’s not independent. It’s administrated by Pakistan, though all mine. Agree or disagree, the people of my part want to be with neither India nor Pakistan. They want a separate free land. But, till now the wish is not granted.

For the past three decades I’m maimed, assaulted forcefully and blood is spilt everyday. On the roads, inside the rooms, by the banks of my river, in the meadows of my bosom, on the snow capped mountains, beneath the canopy so mesmerising, blood is shed.

You know, till date more than one lakh Kashmiri people have lost their lives to this gory conflict. People fight for right of self determination, and die dreaming it. It’s a perfect romance, the Romeo being a common man and the Juliet me. Romeo so much loves its Juliet, it wants to set it free. The love that longs for the everlasting kiss, but ends up in the one last one only to resonate high to kiss again.

A few days ago my daughter Shaista fell to the bullets of the Forces. She was very beautiful, so beautiful that death envied her. Sometimes I’m a bit proud of myself thinking how brave a mom I am. Sons say goodbye to me, daughters are raped, molested, maimed and they too bid me a final adieu. I do shed the tears, but then I’m back to normalcy. You call it inhumane, I call it living ahead for the alive but remembering dead who sleep in my gut, my bosom, my limbs, my mind, everywhere.

Mine is an unending tale of atrocities. Enforced Disappearances, fake encounters, widows and half widows, orphans and half orphans, depressed and tired bodies, graveyards wherever you see, and mass graves that you are not allowed to see. There’s every reason to worry for me, for my people. But, the International Community always turns the blind eye towards me. May be because I don’t have oil fields. Or, may be I’m of no political importance to them. They talk of humanity, humans suffer here too. Why this intentional discrimination?

If Palestine deserves world attention, so do I. Yes, I do. Come and see my scars. Touch my wounds, they seldom heal. Look at my eyes, they’re always moist. My wrinkled face, read it! There you shall learn all about my betrayers, the question looking for the final solution, and the gloom that lingers in my heart. I’m the disputed territory, solve me for the sake of humanity. I can’t hold more dead bodies. Please, I simply can’t. A sigh!

(The author can be mailed at qhchangal@gmail.com )

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of JandK Headlines.