By Dhaar Mehak
True to the nature of her subject, my English teacher at school was a versatile lady. She could connect any two things. She was quite a well-read person. One day, Saira ma’am said, ‘And children, you are the actual product of the armed conflict’. I don’t know how much of it I understood then, but with time I am now to decipher and decode that statement.
Some time ago, my professor told me that the children of the third world have an additional responsibility. He said we have to study harder, work harder and strive harder. And I, the child of a conflict zone, having survived in these circumstances for two decades know via experience how right my teachers are. My mother, too, tells me about a peaceful Srinagar of the past and how it all changed.
Studies show that the people of Kashmir are not workaholics. How can we be? We have strikes and bandhs. In class XII, when it was a national-level competition and our teachers wanted us to fetch some awards for north zone, it was the Ragda-Ragda year. How did we study? Our teachers operated from their homes and so did we, what connected us was the school website. They made notes, gave assignments, and we worked hard.
In college, too, one had to work extra hard. If you are to study in a conflict zone of a third world country, God has sent a helper and mentor: your own self! Enrolling in a Masters course was a novel challenge. The child of conflict now faced a flood. Some of the worst sufferers were ‘we, the students’, who ended up losing 75% of an academic calendar.
There is a threat to our human and fundamental rights. There is less safety of life when we leave our homes. We have aunties and uncles commenting non-stop on us, we have parents who pay heed to them. What we wear or not fascinates our neighbours and relatives. There are innumerable unnatural and innocent deaths we have witnessed. There is loss, pain and suffering.
But the fact also is that we are competent and optimistic. We are fighters. We try, we achieve, we succeed. We fall, we rise, we fall, we rise again. As long the sun shall glorify the morning, we will continue to rise. We are the youth of Kashmir….
—The writer is a freelancer