Walking downtown, trying to breathe

By Muhammad Faysal
I walk down the alleys of Jamia Masjid, the smoke camouflages things like clouds. I can’t breathe. I bow on the prayer mat, my ears ring the sounds of tear gas shells. I can’t breathe. The Imam ends his prayers, the flash-bangs hide his words. I can’t breathe. I step out to return, smoke chokes my lungs. I can’t breathe. My eyes tear up and I cough the smoke out. I can’t breathe.
Reading the news that substitutes the world ‘failure’ with the words ‘after deliberations’, I wonder if these deliberations are done with God himself. Did somebody climb the hill of Sina, to negotiate with God himself on the paucity of Hartals? Or is the leadership so incompetent and intellectually bankrupt that after a year of ‘finding alternate solutions’ they come up with nothing?
Who is part of these councils? The leadership. Who are supposed to give solutions? The people (apparently). Who are the failures? the awam (allegedly). So who was deliberated? Was there a referendum on the options provided? Well, apparently, I heard no news on the voting. Or is this voting also tantamount to betrayal?
Are we so stupid that not a single person in Kashmir or abroad can find an alternative to hartals? Where in the world do you find hartals as protest forms? Only in Kashmir. What does the rest of the world do? What do the Palestinians do? What do the Syrians do? Do they also shut down their shops for a day or two and a third day, and all is well?
If the leadership, who are supposed to be the all-knowing saints, can’t find a way out to protest further, then either we are in a soup or the leadership is incompetent.
To be honest, the solutions won’t come from the leadership who sit together binging on kehva and ‘deliberate’ on stuff. You know, headline worthy stuff. For example the fact that some leader wants to unite the leadership to fight an ultimate battle with the occupation to stop the killings of the youth. After 26 years of hibernation, somebody has finally woken up! We have been busy with playing marbles in the streets of old Srinagar and Sopore.
A leadership divided is a nation divided. The solutions and the alternatives will not and cannot come from the council of saints but from the people. If in the United States, the Black Lives Matter issue was started by the people; if in the West Bank, the Third Intifada was started by the people; if in Kafranbel Syria, the protests have been started by the people, in Kashmir too the new protest movement will be started by the people.
Let’s stop delegating our movement and take charge of it ourselves. Let us remember that these victims of state terrorism are from us. Let us remember that it is our duty to protect the people; our future generations. Let us protest individually. If one of us can wear black armbands, or do some graffiti or make short movies or even video blog their views, it’s worth it… Rather than waiting for divine revelations to reach us to become alternative to hartals.
There’s a popular adage these days in downtown: Hartal pe Hartal is the new Tareekh pe Tareekh (from a Hindi film).
Hearing this cacophony of statements every day gets annoying. Honestly, I can’t breathe….

—The writer tweets at (@_faysal)

One Response to "Walking downtown, trying to breathe"

  1. 22   February 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Beautifuly written… Eye opener… If only people realise it.