5 years ago, this blog started with just a single sentence:
Ah! Kashmir: so near yet so far!
Kashmir, the dream of a Free Kashmir, remains so near yet so far today, as it did 5 years ago. It is near, for every Kashmiri breathes it and feels the pain of this geographical piece of land called Kashmir. These words may appear poetic, but they are not. The pain of Kashmir is felt, just like a cut by a sharp knife. This pain is as much physical as it is emotional. The images of Kashmir embedded in our memory are not, as most Indians might think and want to believe, of honeymooners, neither are they of a Kashmiri boatman selling shawls by the banks of Dal Lake. The images are of death. They are frozen in memory forever. When I think of Kashmir, two images flash in front of my eyes: of a dead body flowing down a river & another image of blood oozing out of a young man who lay and was shot in front of me. At that time my age was less than the fingers on my hands. Their faces I may not recall, but those images will remain fresher than the morning dew in my mind. Nothing has changed, and nothing will, for a long time to come. History is being repeated in Kashmir every single day. Young bodies plunge to their death in Kashmir – a paradise, I call home, but remains a hell to most of its inhabitants. There are a select few others in Kashmir, for whom it continues to remain a gold mine, what it should have been for all the 6 million inhabitants of the valley. Treading over the graves of a few hundred thousand, and the hopes and aspirations of millions, bothers them not. And, if they weren’t enough, as if Kashmiris needed a cherry on the cake, a breed of new Kashmiris, are seeing themselves as saviors of Kashmir, for they think they possess the knowledge to do so. However, Knowing that (facts and information) does not always mean one knows how (the ability to do things). However, we all tend to believe that if we know that, we know how! Seeing being literate as being educated and being knowledgable, leads to fallacies. Very rarely do people, who possess the understanding to see the differences in these three, tread this earth. This is just another pain Kashmir has had to suffer through the decades. Every other thinks he knows what is right for Kashmir, and they mostly consider the opinion of the uneducated majority, not worth a pinch of salt. Sheikh Abdullah thought so, as does Geelani.
Blogging all these years, has been a difficult learning process. Blogging about Kashmir here since 28th December 2005, has been emotionally draining in many ways. It is difficult to write down what you see, hear and live through every day of your life, and pushes you deeper into an abyss. Before I began writing here, I had another blog, which saw the light of day in 2003, but as almost happened to this blog: I gave that up, for it was getting tougher and tougher to write. The only time when I thought joy and Kashmir were linked was when I created a blog on blogspot sometime in 2001, but it never went beyond a single post on nun chai and Kahwa (the Kashmiri teas)! Perhaps, writing about joy and the nice things in Kashmir did not feel right, and I lost that blog too, as I did my will to write. It was a time of evolution for me: I was trying to understand Kashmir, its past and the present that I grew up in. There were contradictions I had to deal with. There were times I had to question who I should feel for? My pain, or the collective pain of Kashmir? Answers to some of which I have not yet found and may never ever find.
This pursuit of understanding Kashmir, took me to the most random bookstores in the most random locations. At one time I could spot the word Kashmir from a mile, something that irked my friends a lot. Three books I would like to mention, K.H. Khurshid’s book came by after a long wait, but it was worth every bit of it. It had some rare photographs of Jinnah in Kashmir, and almost brought together, K.H.Khurshid’s family. The toughest book to find was Aatish e Chinar, Sheikh Abdullahs biography. It took me to places in Delhi that looked scary and shady. It even pushed me to ask people to check at the offices of National Conference in Srinagar, of course to no avail. They did not even possess a copy in their library! A friend found a copy in Urdu in Rawalpindi, talk about irony. It was my handicap with Urdu that prevented me from asking him to speed post it (assuming that the postal services would let it through). Years later, an academician found an abridged version in a university library in the US, and emailed me a scanned copy. Given the wonderful download speeds of BSNL in Kashmir back then, I could never get my virtual hands on it, and to this day it stays faithfully in my inbox. I am assured it gathers no dust. Perwez Dewan’s two-volume book on Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh was the most easy to come by, the most costly, and the most useless. It appeared to be a compilation of Kashmir Gazettes, to which he should have had easy access, being an IAS officer. The only places he appeared to budge in with his opinion was when he presented as fact, his opinion, that most Muslim religious sites in Kashmir, were actually Hindu. Something the RSS does very well. And he also had discovered another Holy Cave. This blog also put me in touch with a lot of professors, graduate students, and journalists. Students from Columbia and the Ohio universities in the US referenced this blog for their thesis, and surprise, found it be very helpful. This blog even made it to the recommended reading list of a University of Leeds programme.A book referenced this blog. It got mention in the Kashmir Observer and also on a recent feature on The Week. One of the best emails I ever received was from an American journalist, who said that she found the blog spiritual. My review on Fanaa, showed up on the top of google results back then! My own commitment to anonymity, prevented me from meeting any of these people. But, it did at least give me an idea, that this blog, is being read and taken seriously. When professors favorite your blog and find it knowledgeable, that becomes an academic approval of sorts, and your care all the less for the threats in your inbox. And, to be honest, it feels good, not for self praise, but for the fact, that people are concerned and do want to hear you out.
And to end I should mention why I remain anonymous. Being anonymous has a lot to do with my understanding that Kashmir owes a lot of its miseries to personalities. These personalities have manipulated and run over Kashmir. I do not want to claim to be a spokesperson for Kashmir, when I am not. It does not befit me to talk about atrocities in Kashmir, as I sit in an air-conditioned room, and raise my own stature. It is not difficult to make others feel, that you are wanted, I do not want to do that. Years back a politician approached me with promises of all the support I wanted. That was the last time he wrote to me. To rise above ones self is an easy term to use, but to actually do that, is difficult. Narcissism is a disease, that can afflict easily, and you wouldn’t know it before you are fully consumed. I do not want even an iota of it. So, I shall continue to be anonymous, till perhaps something in the future makes me think otherwise, but I will continue to write when I can, what I can.