Syed Suhail Yaqoob
It was just another day. Same stars and same night, no changes we recorded on the carpet of sky. However breeze was in the air, some calmness prevailed and the music of gushing water reached down in the depths of rooms and souls.I t seems just another day except these few adjustments. Kashmir’s nights are both hot and chilled; fear of those unknown walking the deserted streets in the nights and the chilled romantic air, a combination of gross contradictions. We never knew that the storm is on way. It was just around 6 pm, when the carpet of night had fallen on our beloved land. Whatsapp and Facebook flashed the news that militant commander, Burhan Wani, had been killed in an encounter with Indian forces. There were his pictures doing rounds; a picture showed him lying on a street, with blood splashed across his body. The body must have been lying there for a long period of time, as the blood had dried up. His blood dried up, but as I could guess, the blood of young boys boiled beyond range. I could see their grim faces, murmuring with themselves something, which I could not guess. They refused to accept the Burhan’s death. One boy was standing very far, with moist eyes, refusing to say anything, but his silence said it all. His look on us said it all. We were stunnned, as if bitten by snake. Women came out, refusing to accept the reality.
Then it dawned on them that the inevitable had happened. Burhan Wani had been killed in a fire fight with the Indian forces along with his fellow militants. Suddenly, the loudspeakers burst into patriotic songs; it was a confirmation of his death. One particular song which went as a dragger into our chest was “Aye Rahe-Haq ke Shaheedo………”. All were mourning, the chilled breeze made them restless and every boy on that stream felt as if bitten by ants. Suddenly cars arrived, loaded with young boys- hundreds of these-, determined to travel to Tral, Wani’s home town. They speed up the cars and lost in the dark carpet of night. Few remained there, mourning. Indian news channels branded him a terrorist, a hard core terrorist; his smiling and bubbly face seemed to contradict them. The breeze spewed blood into our hearts and pinched us all night. We took turns in our beds- restless all night.
Finally, it was day break. What I could gather was that a mass human civilization was on migration towards Tral, to pay respects to one of their favorite militant commanders. Cars were filled, tractors were filled. All were going on in one direction, and that was Tral.
I felt it resembled the Jewish Exodus when they left Egypt. Touching scenes recorded my eyes, women walked barefoot , chanting patriotic and woeful songs, which stunned and threw chill into our bodies. Women of Kashmir are best at depicting the political conditions through songs. They chanted slogans, barefooted, cursing the oppressor, for all days to come. We found no Indian forces on roads; the government was caught off guard. It had not anticipated the repercussions of killing Burhan Wani.
We reached Kashmir’s only link with India, the road that connects Srinagar to India. On that day, I could see that though the road would exist in toto, the road of sympathy for India and pro-Indian parties would get blocked, never to open again. The road to India got submerged right on that day. Pro-Indian political parties lost all ground; it was mayhem there. Food, sweets and juices were distributed to cater to the swelling population. We reached the dense forests of Tral; mighty mountains welcomed us.
We could get he was sheltered by these forests all though these years. There was no space for the cars to move in the middle of Tral. The rush of people had choked the town completely. People were struggling to move ahead, the sea of people were coming from the other side as well. There was meticulous planning by the local people; they managed to arrange all these people without a single traffic jam.
We reached Tral. We could see only people, wailing, chanting pro-Burhan slogans. It was a sea of people. Somehow we struggled to reach his home: not an atom of space was left. The home was decent-an upper middle income group. Burhan was held atop. His body swam in the arms of people due to pressure, the air was chocking. People fainted due to hotness, sloganeering boiled blood. His father showed extreme composure. He was still as a rock, his other relatives as well. The pressure swelled so much it brought down the outer wall of his home.
Then finally we had a look of the most famous man in Kashmir then. He was a boy of just around 23 years of age. He looked so tender; the images of him were completely different what we saw. He was not young, but a child. He seemed pale, I guess due to loss of blood. A small hole was around his chest and head. But he seemed asleep, as if calm and at peace. We could not figure out the aroma around him. He was taken to Eid-Gah where more than 40 funerals were held, the highest in the history of Kashmir. As his funerals were held, his father helped to dig the grave of his other son; the brothers were laid next to each other for eternity. The father’s composure threw chills around our body, he seemed calm and people around him could not figure out how and why? All they did was raise passionate and emotion laden slogans. He went down the grave and cleared it. All left, but the anger was visible on their faces.
The next two months Kashmir saw brutality. Thousands were arrested, hundreds were shot dead and many hundreds were blinded .This era penetrated into the minds of people especially young. It’s not only I who remember it. We, Kashmiris, shall remember it for eternity.
The author teaches at Kashmir University and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org