Gupkar is looking for answers. It may find them in Achan. But first, a clarification: for many Gupkar is a sacred site, because of at least a couple of ziarats just above the shoreline of the Dal Lake. Otherwise, the Gupkar imprinted on the Kashmiri psyche is Gupkar Road, the breeding ground of Kashmir’s many ills, stinking metaphorically from Achan, two famous lakes, or rather three if one counts the dead Anchar, away. Had the fragrance rising from Achan wafted into the exquisitely maintained environs of Gupkar Road, its privileged residents would perhaps have found a far simpler way of determining what went wrong for them in the recent parliamentary elections.
The roundabout route Gupkar Road later took can only be described by the pithy Kashmiri phrase – lar kin lahore. Another clarification: this column is not intended to analyse and prognosticate on the future electoral fortunes and misfortunes of Kashmir’s present rulers. Crystal balls and séances (rocket science is getting a bit overused) serve to know the unseen. To know the seen, one only has to open one’s eyes. And that brings one to another Kashmiri phrase: ach wathcay, te gash rathcay. That incidentally applies to all Kashmiris, rulers as well as the ruled. And lest these columns acquire the notoriety of being a repository of crude Kashmiri idiom, it is necessary to come to the point straight.
Achan is stinking again.
A reprieve tens of thousands of sufferers of the city’s residents considered to be permanent after admirable judicial and journalistic and activistic activism has proved short lived. And the stink has lost none of its old habits. Meal time, prayer time, especially prayer time, and any other time any ordinary resident of Srinagar raises his eyes to the far mountains, to the still-unpolluted blue of the sky, or a glorious sunset, and is about to murmur a word of praise for their Maker.
Lest misapprehensions be created, the resurging stink is still only an insinuation, not the full-blooded accusation, indictment and damnation it has been for nearly three years. But coming events cast there shadows before. There are elections to be won, campaigns to be run, and people to be conned. Half of Srinagar, therefore, would be well advised to invest in the research and development of masks that protect their olfactory senses from permanent damage. Their optical senses are already dead.