The Trial (Kafka Redux)

The Trial (Kafka Redux)

The doyen of doyens and one of the key literary figures of the 20th century, Franz Kafka, in his ouvres dwelt on the nature of predicament(s) faced by individual(s) in bizarre conditions overlaid by incomprehensible social bureaucratic powers. One of Kafka’s best known works, in this regard is , The Trial, where Kafka poignantly and trenchantly describes the odyssey of a man arrested by distant and remote authorities without the nature of the revealed to the accused. This odyssey, which came to be known as Kakfkaesque and which denotes a situation which is “ fiendishly and nightmarishly complex, bizarre and illogical” best, describes the nature and struggle(s) of Riyaz Ahmed Hajji- a Kashmiri man who was falsely accused of killing a foreigner and then released after twenty years. Hajji now lives a life of penury with the best years of his life destroyed by Kafkaesque. Hajji’s case is a poignant and heart rending one; the man who was a juvenile when arrested lives on hope. But, while hope is an important psychological and emotional condition and motor of life but life cannot merely sustain itself on hope. Hajji’s case is one that emerged in the public domain; there must be many others who have had to endure this Kafkaesque odyssey. The life and the convoluted , bizarre and illogical trajectory of people like Hajji and others – the very injustice that defines them- must give pause to powers that be, in particular and, society , in general. The whim, caprice or even malice of those who have the power to determine the trajectory of lives of people caught in a similar bind, can not only destroy individuals’ lives but also of those related to these victims- families, friends and so on. Broadly speaking, Kafkaesque and odysseys that it generates emanate from the larger context and backdrop- that is, the conflict in and over Kashmir- in itself, a Kafkaesque parodied in real life and terms. As long as the conflict exists and continues, Kafka will continue to resonate in Kashmir. This, however, does not mean resignation and acceptance of lives destroyed by whim or social- bureaucratic forces. All efforts must be directed toward ensuring justice , remedial redressal and rehabilitation of victims like Hajji. The man’s odyssey serves as a cautionary tale and reminder of the tragedy that is Kashmir.

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