Stockholm Syndrome!!!

Stockholm Syndrome!!!

It was May, 2009. My buddy (also my best cousin), who had just come home after his studies from a place far away across the mountains, had developed symptoms of depression. He would smoke frequently and often lose his cool. The reasons of his so unhealthy behaviour, however, were not his “untimely breakup” or “no work”, but it was something else. His mother had cancer! No body around could sense his changing behavior.
Understanding human behaviours and psyche and also knowing him from the times of our diaper days, I did understand. He was not well. Something was eating him up from within. Without waiting for him to lose his cool at his own father again and avoid “word pelting” at others (not even sparing me), I thought of taking him for a treatment, however, not a medical one – a road trip to Ladakh. Two more friends, one a cousin (our guide for the trip) and the other a family friend (a businessman) accompanied us. So this story has its roots in the roads and mountains.
We started early in the morning from my home with the hope of driving in shifts and covering the distance in just one day, which would have been possible had the road near Lama Yuru not slid. Nonetheless, it was all fun.
During our journey we talked, played music, had food, captured moments – on camera, slept in turns, argued, and the most interesting of all renamed the roads and mountains as they passed by. Our guide, who already had some two or three trips to Ladakh that month, had given everything a name according to their shapes and resemblance with animals, etc.
It was dark when our friend (the businessman) who was driving suddenly braked and got off the vehicle and cried like a child and the reasons – still unknown. So, everybody was upset.
Now my best buddy, who vomited almost all through the journey, took to the steering wheel, playing some louder music… but… no road ahead! It was a landslide! People had pulled up and slept right inside their vehicles on the roadside. Everyone got panicked. I recovered immediately and told them to be calm and started looking for a place where we could sleep for the remaining 2-3 hours of the night. We went to nearby hotels and lodges but none welcomed us either because of “no rooms” or everybody had slept. So, we pulled up near a gumpa. I set the alarm at 5 am. Everybody tried to sleep but this time my cousin also our guide had some problem. He was just beside me right inside the car but unable to sleep. He complained of some chest pain. “My heart”, he sighed. I cuddled and hugged him. But he would not stop. “Get off this place, I am dying.” We got scared. “This *** moving drum is taking my breath away”, he cried. “Let you sleep, you’ll be fine”, I assured him of a sound sleep that finally came to him. But I could not sleep. I was thinking of the trip and many other things that happened so far. My sixth sense, which is usually sound, also got upset. I had these feelings of something bad going to happen. What was it? I was very confused!
In the course of thinking about the vibes from my sixth sense and calculating the hours of our journey and the money we spent, I had a nap. And, here my phone woke me up. It was 5 am. Snooze or close was the thing on my phone’s display. I closed it and woke my buddy up without disturbing the other two who were in a deep sleep and we set ourselves rolling on the road again.
It was very beautiful in the morning. The sunrise and the mountains were breathtaking! Soon everyone was active. We took a different road and finally reached Leh. We spent some days in Leh and everyone flushed his frustration out in into the wild! Everybody was happy!

You would probably wonder why are we reading a story of four friends who had some problems in their personal lives or in their families, while others are reading things related to “Modi-fication” or “NC-ing off” or “PDP-ing at” or “Geelani striking again” and even “SMS-ing” and more recently Article 370-ing! You may also point out the title pointless so far. But, the real story begins here.
It was our last day in Leh and in the morning we discovered a noon chai hotel. We ordered 4 noon chai cups and some bread with butter. It was all very delicious. There were two more customers, an old lady and an old man. The old lady gestured some wrinkled smiles and the old man who spoke a strange English joined us for an interaction. We offered him noon chai that he accepted and enjoyed with us. We introduced each other and our work, etc. He was Theo from Sweden. I filmed him on our camera and showed him some of his stills, which he liked very much. It was time for us to leave. We paid our bills and also his. He thanked us for spending time with him and also for the noon chai. We thanked the chai wala and in the meantime Theo asked me for my phone number. I gave it to him but did not ask him his. We left. He stayed.
It was 29th May, 2009. We were on our way to Srinagar. I had a call from an unknown number, which I missed. I called the number back but could not reach that. On 31st May, 2009 I received a text message from the same unknown number, which read like this, “Hi! Have you reached safely? It was nice to meet you and your friends. Greetings to all. I will be in Srinagar on 2nd. With affection. Theo.” Another message on 2nd June, 2009 read, “Good Morning. How are you and your friends? I am stranded 50km from Srinagar, cannot continue. Is there curfew in Srinagar? Greetings to all. Theo.”
Yes, 29th May, 2009. June, 2009. Curfew. You got it! Remember Shopian? Aasiya, Neelofer and the baby? May be it’s all around in the newspapers these days. Anniversaries are a good thing to remember people. So we are remembering them today. Right??? So, did I in 2010.
A wrote a poem titled “Aasiya, Neelofar, Justice?” published in a local daily, which I forwarded to my friend in Stockholm. He wrote to me immediately after reading the poem, “Now, to continue answering to your mails in the order you have written then I think that your poetry dedicated to Aasiya and Neelofar is a very beautiful one. It is written with great love and compassion, and at the same time you narrate what has happened!”
Here’s the poem:
Aasiya, Neelofar, Justice?
You promise, we wait,
you don’t come, we still wait.
We don’t expect, we hope?
You assured us the other day,
we will go the same way.
We don’t expect, we hope?
We will go hand in hand
on evil eyes together throw sand.
We don’t expect, we hope?
We were buried once, exhumed twice,
for sure, they will pay a heavy price.
We don’t expect, we hope?
They try their best,
to give our souls peace, rest.
We don’t expect, we hope?
We were not killed, says the other side,
it was by accident, our heavenly ride.
We don’t expect, we hope?
Conspiracy they have woven, but with a barbed wire,
they will be dragged, for sure, into hell fire.
We don’t expect, we hope?
All the men who committed the sin,
threw us in river, as trash in bin.
Be it men in uniform,
or the ones in any form,
the day is soon to come,
with us and other souls when justice will be done!
We don’t expect, we hope?
Hold on, enough of reading, writing and striking. Where are we heading? You know why I titled this “Stockholm Syndrome”. “Stockholm”, because the beginning quotes were sent by my friend, Theo from Stockholm; “Syndrome”, because he had been spreading messages and telling people in Stockholm about the plight of Kashmiris in general and the Shopian case in particular.‘Stockholm syndrome’, otherwise, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.
For three years we were in contact through e-mails, phone and Skype. Every time he would update me about his efforts in informing his friends and people in Stockholm about the sensitivity of Kashmir issue. Although he had been travelling to India for more than 20 years but with the Shopian case, I still don’t understand why was he so mad about telling people the story. May be because he was here during that period or he himself suffered because of some restrictions here those days. Sweden otherwise is a stable kingdom and may be the instability herein struck him badly. He was a traveller, who travelled almost all the conflict areas as he would often write to me and mention about Egypt, Laos, Cambodia, Tibet, etc.
Why would he emphasize more on Kashmir? Had he felt the pain and agony of Kashmiris more than we feel? What was it that motivated him to help the people of Kashmir? I remember he broke into tears more than once for the tears we could never shed for our own people. He once told me that he was going to sell his property in Stockholm and buy an apartment here in the valley and work for the common cause of the people of Kashmir. Can you guess the age of the man? Retired translator. Worked with the queen’s family. Had a royal stature. Met with accidents. Had 2 or 3 strokes. Got paralyzed for months together. Went to gym. Regained strength. Again phoned me, once, in the middle of the night. Cried unstoppable. “I’ll come soon, my friend, and will live with you and your people!” That was his last words I heard on a wintery night when he and me and I don’t know who else joined both of us in shedding tears… for… I don’t know what!
That is someone not a native of Kashmir sensitizing people about the plight of Kashmir is not only in Stockholm but also in Denmark, Moscow, and some remote areas of China. What about those who are the state subjects and claim to be the real representatives of the people of Kashmir? What are they up to? What if there is no one to represent us? Say, they all die the same day! What are we up to? Who will replace Omars or Umers for that matter, Muftis, Azads, Ansaris, Yaseens, Shabbirs, and Geelanis?
Just remembering those who died or who are in the line, celebrating anniversaries or calling for a shut down won’t stop the tug between killers (everywhere) and saviors (nowhere). Since that leads to no positive change, why not stop them. I fear a time will come when adversaries and anniversaries will go hand-in-hand!
My Swedish friend, a Buddhist, became a Muslim is no more but here is a line from one of his e-mails that he sent to me, “But yes, as you point it out, Kashmir is an occupied country and such kinds of crimes will even occur in the future. Unfortunately!”

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