Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The spirit of a frail old man

My only point is this: We all seem to know the problem but solution none has. Mere rhetore does not serve a nation good. We are fast becoming a nation of mongers. I'm asking you who are these leaders? They are not aliens poured out from outer space. They are amongst us. Leaders are as good as their countrymen. We have to show collective responsibility and stop preying to the whims of these hartals and stone pelting menaces.The spirit is alive in us cannot doubt it, but sometimes implementation leaves alot to be desired.

 I will narrate a incident from 2008 uprising. I was in kashmir those days. Hartals and curfews had crippled life. Situation in downtown was grim. People had run out of food stock. Somehow we got a let off for a day or two from curfew. I took a walk around Lal chowk and happened to come across a frail mid 70's years old hawker ( the one's in residency road selling bangladeshi clothes). I kept on looking at him for sometime. I wanted to talk to him. His condition told me that he was worried but I didn't knew how to strike a chord. Somehow I asked for a match box to lit my cigratte and we started our little small talk. I asked him if these incessent hartals have any value in his eyes, that if he doesn't feel disillusioned when his family has barely two meals a day and sometimes even not that. I mean for someone like me I have the liberty to do nothing yet I know I won't suffer a great deal.There was a sense of guilt too in me due to this. But his answer laid to rest everything. He told me son untill we give something we wont have anything. Freedom requires great sacrifices and if that means my family remains hungry for some days I'm ready for it. I went back home and thought about this for a long time. What keeps this old frail man so optimistic when honestly I could see only deceit all around this struggle. The answer lies in the indominitable spirit of oppressed people.I stopped thinking about the unkept promises of our leaders.It didn't matter at that point of the time.That night I could sleep peacefully, for i knew the spirit is alive and kicking.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lost Childhood

We all have little stories from our childhood to share. I have mine too- as a 7 year old witnessing the carnage at Kow Dara (when the whole area was set ablaze by the Indian troops). It was late October, a season when rolling incense of the roadside chestnuts warms the quivering breathe while walking down Lal Chowk. The bees were still in their hives,  flowers faded and curled. Circling birds and emanating smoke was unsual to the stray chinar leaves that burned at every nook of  of the autumn city- some grim event we could suspect was unfurling while driving through the city fringes.

I remember we took a detour from Nishat, I was attending my cousin's marriage ceremony in Buchpora , going back home to Khanyar, watching the whole area going up in smoke, as we inched nearer to the carnage. The blaring siren of the fire engines going past us- the siren haunted me for years to come. It gave me sleepless nights. Even now when I hear that siren, those ghostly moments of that fateful autumn day sends shivers down my spine.

The innocent child in me could not comprehend what was going around me. Monopoly, snake & ladder games were replaced by penchant for guns & bunkers. I remember vividly building bunkers out of pillows everywhere I could & firing bullets. Making weird sounds. Suddenly guessing correctly the right gun from which a bullet was shot in a cross firing was competition amongst us cousins, rather than the woodcutter's story learned at school. A army sepoy we were told should be referred as major, to wee away his wrath. Pak train, Afghan train, Kashmir train were courses I thought. So, I asked my cousin who came from Bangalore that year, completing his engineering, if he was Bangalore train. He smiled.