By Wani Javid
My day starts as a prisoner in my own home but the irony is that my day is politically engineered for me. It starts with curfew announcements, closed shops and with traffic off the concertina roads. I speak with a sense of nostalgia: I miss my beautiful Kashmir which I used to observe when I used to take a glimpse out of the window. What I see now are men in uniform. I am overcome with fear when I watch the window: I may lose my vision. My story is heart-wrenching; I have lost my near and dear ones. I have lost my identity; it is being verified and being checked in my own mother land. I have been cheated with broken promises. I doubt everyone, my history is full of torments, my days are full of agony and nights are sleepless. Oftentimes I ask myself, who am I? What is my identity? Why am I being hanged? Do I matter? Why am I being chained, blinded, maimed, gagged, disappeared & killed?
I have become paranoid, scared of door knocks, the steps on the staircase, loud yells. I am afraid of dark and the men in uniform who claim to be our saviours. I am afraid to venture out as suddenly a grenade may explode. I am afraid to go to school as it may get burnt. My mother worries and frets when I am not home I may get killed any time. I am disturbed, oppressed, ignored, stressed, crumbled and afraid. I am caught and trapped between two conflicting nations.
My childhood was ruined and my dreams got shattered, I have seen my dear ones dying in-front of my eyes. I have much blood spilt: I have grown up in encounters, conflicts, curfews and under the shadow of the gun. My innocent soul got filled with hatred, anger and fear. I am not alone. Every child in Kashmir is like me: I am the face of the crowd in Kashmir. There are millions like me who are being created due to this conflict. Who is responsible for this? I often recite the slogan, ‘ Hum Kya Chahtey?’(What do we want?) in my dreams. August Kekule gave the structure of Benzene with a hint from his dream, ‘all I dream about is being chased away by security forces, being hit by bullets & blinded by pellets.
Who am I?
Am I their subjects on whom they will check the impact of various arm and check the lethality of their weapons? They have tested rubber bullets; tear shells, pellet guns and now PAVA shells. They debate on me what to use and what not to without solving the root cause and issue. They are playing political gimmicks on me. Each one of them claims to be my well wisher but, in reality, nobody is on my side. I am alone in my painful, dark world.
My dreams got shattered; my career and family are at stake. No one talks about me. My sisters are being molested; my dear one’s are being killed, jailed and blinded. I am being pushed against wall but when I resist, I scream and pelt stones. But, alas, who will I narrate that these are not stones but my heartfelt emotions and their reflection?
Yet I will resist because I am helpless. My future is bleak. I have lost my identity.
Inhuman laws are slapped against me. They declare me a threat against my own kind!
Draconian laws like PSA are slapped against me. Whom I shall narrate my tale of woe? I, too, am human. I too have dreams, a have family and I want peace. I, too, have a desire for the good and decent life.
They claim that I am their integral part but the reality is that I am being humiliated, caged, maimed and brutality killed. My atmosphere is rendered toxic with tear and pepper gas. The sponsored media labels me as enemy of the nation, a terrorist and a destabilizer of law and order. I am under close surveillance : my actions are monitored daily. They say that their constitution is liberal and it provides fundamental rights to individuals but I witness and experience is that I am being pushed to the Stone Age. I am not allowed to enjoy basic human rights. My rights are tenuous: they can be snatched anytime. They leave me helpless, vulnerable and powerless. Above all, when my last hope is with the Almighty, they ban my prayer.
Hope is all I have.
I live with the hope that someday, the sun will shine again, children will go to school with free minds and I will have my own identity. I will proudly tread the earth as a Kashmiri and when my mother will not worry about me. I dream of the day when people will have happy looks on their faces, the wounds of the people will get healed. I am sure that the day will come when I will live as a freeman-the day when we will get freedom. This is the hope that keeps me alive and there is a reason for this.
—The author is former student of department of Bio-chemistry, University of Kashmir and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org