The Kashmir

September 4, 2010

ICONOCLASM IN KASHMIR-MOTIVES AND MAGNITUDE

Filed under: Kashmir, Temples — Tags: , , , , , , , — TheKashmir @ 7:12 am

Photo : John Burke , Year 1868 (once a Hindu temple now Zein-ul-ab-ud-din's Tomb, in Srinagar. )

This photograph is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole’s Archaeological Survey of India report, ‘Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir’ (1869), when Cole wrote, ‘In the Panels of the Gateways, there is proof that buildings had previously existed, in which columns play a part…The break in the roof is also remarkable as occurring in conjunction with the simplicity of the enclosing wall, and indicates, I think, that the Gateway is probably more modern than the wall, and may perhaps have been set up by the Mahomedans out of some of the materials of other ruined temples of which a quantity lies strewn all over Srinagar.’  Sikandar has been tainted in Kashmiri history as Butshikan or idol-breaker.Zeinabuldin , the Sultan , was Sikander;s son.The fertile valley of Kashmir offered a retreat from the crossroads of Asia in the high Himalayas, and developed its own distinctive architecture. Buddhism was established here from the 3rd century BC but was eclipsed by the 8th century AD by the flourishing Hindu Vaishnava and Shaiva cults. Kashmir finally became a great centre of the Shaiva religion and philosophy and a seat of Sanskrit learning and literature. By the 14th century Kashmir came under Islamic rule. Most of its early temples were sacked in the 15th century and their remains were sometimes incorporated in later Islamic monuments. The tomb of the mother of Zain-ul-abidin was built in c.1430 on the foundations of an old Hindu temple, and was decorated with glazed tiles. Immediately to the north of this building is an enclosing wall and gateway made of Hindu materials, which contains a number of tombs, one of which is said to preserve the remains of the Sultan himself.

………..While no one can deny the fact that Kashmir was greatly influenced by Sufism and has produced some great Sufi saints and mystic poets(both Hindus and Muslims),we must stay clear of attaching a Sufi tag to every Muslim Godman.

On one hand we have the great Sufi Tradition of Nund Rishi,Shams Faqir,Ahmed batwario,Rahim Saab,Swoch Kral,Prakesh Ram Kurigami,Govind Kaul,Ahmed Dar, on the other we have self styled god-men like Bul Bul Shah and Syed Ali Hamdani on whom this label of Sufi is stuck to make them more palatable to the larger masses.
Syed Ali Hamdani or Shah-I Hamdan as he is popularly called by Kashmiri Muslims is widely regarded as the man responsible for conversion of Kashmiris to Islam.As we already know that the Shah-i-Hamadan mosque was built after demolishing a Kali temple(and there are enough historical records to prove that, apart from the fact that to this day Pandits perform prayers alongside the converted structure).

Now that itself should restrain our Marxist historians from making “religious divines” claim.
That not-withstanding I would like to inform the readers that before Shah-i-Hamadan left Kashmir he ordered the king to impose the following sanctions on Non-Muslims.I am enumerating them for your reading please.

1) The Hindus will not construct any new temples under the rule of Muslims.
2) They will not repair old temples fallen into ruins.
3) They will respect Muslims.
4) They will not dress like Muslims.
5) They will not ride a horse with saddle & bridle
6) They will not put on a ring.
7) They will not carry swords or bows & arrows.
8 ) They will not adopt Muslim names
9) They will not harbour spies or act as spies
10) If any relation of their’s wants to embrace Islam, they will not oppose it.
11) If a Muslim comes to attend a Hindu meeting he will be respectfully received.
12) They will receive Muslim travelers into their houses & provide them hospitality.
13) They will not prevent Muslim travelers from staying in their temples & shrines.
14) They will not mourn their dead loudly.
15) They will not buy Muslim slaves.
16) They will not build houses in neighbourhood of Muslims.
17) They will not sell intoxicating drinks.
18) They will not carry their dead near the grave-yards of Muslims.
19) They will not openly practice their customs & usages among Muslims.
20) They will not give up their traditional dress so that they can be distinguished from Muslims.
In the end the fiat in the form of an advice dictated if any Hindu dares to flout any of conditions, he should be first looted and then possession of his body is halal(Zakhiratul- Muluk).

Read the well researched complete write up by clicking HERE

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July 10, 2010

‘Hidden’ Facebook instigators ! They dont want a peaceful valley

Filed under: Jihad, Kashmir, Protests/Events — Tags: , , , , , , — TheKashmir @ 6:58 pm

Just check out this wall message on Facebook. Peace returning back to valley scares the separatists, and thay have employed scores of youth to instigate and doctrine more youths into the Jihadi Movement . In the first screen shot you would find Lashkar E Tayiba / JuD [ Jamat Ul Dawa ] activists distributing Jihadi videos and asking the activists to play these over the loudspeakers of the Mosques.

In the second screenshot , a separatist is worried about failing support and exploring the method of emotional blackmail.


Lashkar & Jamat Ul Dawa Activists instigating the people of Kashmir

.

Keyboard Jihadi On Work.

June 24, 2010

The Kashmiri Pandits: Dispossessed and Discouraged


“Gairon ke sitam pe kya sikwa karein

Hume toh apno ne hi patthar maare hain”

These two lines in Hindi by Dines Naidu fits that bleak pitch in which the Kashmiri Pandits are today so repulsively forced to express themselves and their unrelenting plight after years and years of life living as a refugee at the doorstep of their own home.

And while India commemorate its ‘kaagzee taraqqee-ae-nation’ (Paper Progress of a Nation) and whatever it wants to, the Kashmiri Pandits, being dispossessed and discouraged in the hands of their own country, have got nothing else to do beside indulging themselves in the song of lamenting. And Ehsan Amir’s these two lines seems to be giving voice to their unheard sighs-

“Humse mat poochhiye hum kidhar jaayenge

Thak gaye hain bahut, apne ghar jaayenge”

Reading the huge online archives of sites dedicated to Kashmiri Pandits and going through the word-by-word description of the atrocities that was ‘showered’ upon them, my brain along with the raising impact of migraine tells me to stop reading any further but my heart, who himself is living the life of a forced rambler after being thrown out from his own house, pleads me to read on, so to grasp even a little bit of that inhumane treatments that Kashmiri Pandits had gone through, I read on.

It was the unfaithful year of 1989-90 which made nearly 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits ‘migrants’ (as Indian Government ‘fondly’ addresses them) inside their own nation, when Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front backed by the country on the other side of the border, indulged their selves in the ruthless genocide of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus, they, the Hindus, then ran away, forced to leave their land, their home, their past, their present and into an uncertain future where today, they find themselves just like I find myself – unaccepted, unwelcomed and uncared – among the very people who happen to be our own.

It was the month of scorching summer in the year 2004, when just after performing the last rituals of my murdered father; I was driven out from my very own house. Tears of loss of my father had not even dried from my eyes when my very own blood-relatives stabbed into my chest.

A long quota of years has passed since then but the pain and the wound is still fresh – fresh enough to fill my eyes with tears and heart with pain of betrayal. And there is not a single day goes by when I, looking at myself in the mirror, don’t see the longing in those red eyes which have been barred to soak themselves from the beauty of their birthplace. It’s a longing for that home, which now belongs to the killers of my parents and which I know just like the ‘Pandits’, that what was snatched away from them will never be given back to them – Their home, their land.

This gruesome tale of Sarwanand Koul “Premi” – a Kashmiri Pandit, who was born in Kashmir’s Sofshalli, Anantnag village, depicts the misery that the thousands like him had to go through.

Premi was a poet and a teacher and when terrorism was at its extreme in the valley (though it is no less today, too) he refused to leave his village. He thought that he would withstand the Islamic hurricane as he had taught every Muslim man, women and dog in and around the periphery of his village and so they cannot as ungrateful as to kick him to dust along with his teachings and then bite him to death.

But his faith or whatever that he had in his heart for them, taught him the lesson which took away his life.

The ‘Patrons-of-Dearth’ entered in his house on the night of 28th April, 1990 and ordered all the members of his family to assemble into one room along with all the valuables. Whatever existed of any monetary value in the house of ‘Premi’ was offered to those ‘guardians of Jihad’ who, as they put it, were fighting for their freedom – freedom for an ‘Azaad Kashmir.’

After taking away whatever material Premi had in his house, the ‘terror-mongers’ then demanded that ‘Premi’ step out of the house for few words to be exchanged in private away from his family. And when the members of Premi’s family howled and whined the ‘Gods-of-Mercy’ gave them their words that, ‘Premi’ would return and return ‘safe and in one piece.’

But Premi’s only son requested to be allowed to accompany his old father. So the ‘kind’ and ‘good-hearted’ as those ‘unmasked-men’ were, agreed to the plight of a son, saying-

‘If you wish you may also accompany him…’

And once they stepped out of the house, they never returned. The cold-blooded torture that was carried out at the old teacher’s body and his young son’s can put to shame even the worst tyrant of the three worlds put together.

The spot in the forehead where ‘Premi’ would put his Tilak mark was brutally nailed. His body had the burnt dots of cigarette butts. The limbs of his body were broken and bones from his shattered ribcage poked out. His eye-balls lay crushed on the dust and he was hanged from a tree upside-down and bullets were fired on him. And the same orgy was bestowed upon his son.

The women inside the house ‘wailed and waited’ but feared to go out – feared that they too, might get raped just like the other day the wife of their neighbour was raped by these same ‘kind-hearted’ men.

Shame on us that we call ourselves human!

20th June marks the day of world refugees and their plight. And on this day the entire world comes together to give their bit to the refugees from all around the world, but at the same time the Kashmiri Pandits who are in there 20th year of being the refugees in their own nation – where you and I live – are still waiting to be remembered and addressed in that proper way which any countryman deserves to be addressed – as Citizens.

The many thousand Kashmiri Pandits since then have been living in the Indian Government’s “semi-permanent camps for the displaced” in Jammu and New Delhi.

But if you go visit these camps, then you will see that, not only they are disgustingly stuffed but also lack sufficient facilities and basic necessities.

Like there is no regular supply of drinking water, always there’s a shortage of medicines, plus the sanitation facility are in the worst conditions imaginable. And on top of all this, the education and employment opportunities are severely lacking.

And so not surprisingly, as the result of all this below level of living conditions, the Kashmiri Pandits, after 20 years of their disarticulation, have faced serious health issues like high incidence of several kinds of diseases, depressions, stress-related problems and high death rate.

People might wonder why isn’t the government doing something concrete for them than? But the silence which marks the being of Kashmiri Pandits as refugees is actually an awkward truth that our politicians, our media and our secular parties are unable to come to terms with, so they push this matter under that dark carpet which happens to be the outcome of culpable silence and deliberate ignorance.

I can only hope – hope that someday these silent Kashmiri Pandits will be heard by those who can make a concrete difference in their life and with this – I pray (though I hardly pray) that all those who have died in this massacre may Rest In Peace (Although I feel that it ain’t going to happen).

Author :SadhoGopal Ram    ; Source : Chowk.Com

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May 31, 2010

Holocaust of Kashmiri Pandits

Filed under: History Of Kashmir, India — Tags: , , , , , , — TheKashmir @ 4:51 am

Satanic Holocaust of Kashmiri Pandits – by Dr. Satish Ganjoo

Myth and reality move together in the Saffron Valley of mystic splendor. The reclamation of land from Satisar created certain complications. The Saraswati River that flowed into the eastern Punjab, Rajasthan, Sind and other parts of Indian subcontinent suddenly got dried up. Geologists are of the opinion that all those streams, which fed Satisar and form the source of water for the Saraswati river, mostly ran underground. Once the cleft materialized at Baramulla, the water of the Satisar flowed out in an opposite direction, leaving the Saraswati basin dry. The Aryan Saraswat Brahmans, who used to live on the banks of Saraswati river, migrated to the Kashmir Valley to continue their austerities. With the passage of time these people came to be known as ‘Bhattas’ in Kashmir. The word is derivative of Brahman. Now they are called the Kashmiri Pandits or the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir, who believe in the mystic combination of Shaivism, Kali Bhakti, Shakta worship and Tantra.

History of the Kashmiri Pandits is the history of Kashmir since last more than 5000 years. They are associated with its society, culture, civilization, customs, traditions, myths and realities. The rise of Buddhism and reactions by Brahmans gave rise to a long struggle between the two rival ideologies. The Naga (Snake) worship was also the dominant religion in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. However, Buddhism flourished in the Valley during the reign of Durnadeo, Simhadeo, Sundersen, Ashoka and Kanishka. The great Buddhist council was held at Kanishpur in Kashmir during the rule of Kanishka and it was presided over by two eminent scholars — Asvaghosha and Vasumitra. About 500 monks from different parts of the subcontinent attended the same. Nagarjuna , a Bodhisattva and the greatest philosopher of Buddhism, lived in Kashmir. During the reign of Abhimanu, a number of people were converted to Buddhism. It was first struggle of the Kashmiri Brahmans for their survival. A number of Kashmiri scholars – Kumarajiva (AD 384-417), Shakyashri Badhra (AD 405), Ratnavera, Shama Bhatta (5th Cen AD) and others went to China and Tibet to preach Buddhism. However, the Brahmans regained their supremacy during the reign of Nara I . The struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism came to an end with the emergence of modern Hinduism. A period of comparative historical validity began with the establishment of the Karkuta rule in AD 627. Avantivarman (AD 855-833) is believed to be the first Vaishnavite ruler of Kashmir. During his rule there was a tremendous cultural development in the Valley. The great Shaiva philosophers of this period were Kayyatacharya, Somananda, Muktakantha Swamin, Shiva Swamin, Ananda Vardhana and Kallata.

The struggle between the Brahmans and other castes, such as Kayasthas, began during the reign of Shankara Varman. The authority of the Brahmans was broken and the sacred character of their citadels was violated. However, the Shaivite thought and philosophy flourished. Pradyumana Bhatta, Utpalacharya, Rama Kantha, Prajnarjuna, Lachaman Gupta and Mahadeva Bhatta have made a tremendous contribution to this philosophy. During the regime of Lohara dynasty, Kashmir came into contact with the Muslim invaders who attacked India. When Mahmud Ghazni annexed the Punjab, most of the tribes on the borders of Kashmir embraced Islam. At that time, the Valley was ruled by Sangram Raja (AD 1003-1028). Even after their conversion to Islam, these people continued to visit Kashmir – as traders, wanderers and even missionaries. There are historical evidences that some of these tribals settled in the Valley and made some venture into propagating their new religion.

Harsha (AD 1089-1101), was a man of extravagant habits and a jumble of contraries. He robbed the temple treasures and melt idols of gold and silver to tide over his financial crisis. Before him two other kings, Jalauka and Kalasa, employed the same approach of plundering the temples and melting the images of gold and silver to augment their depleted treasuries. Harsha also employed Muslim generals, who are called Turushkas by Kalhana, for the first time in the history of Kashmir. Now Muslims as a class appeared in the political field and began to consolidate its roots. Bhikshachara, a descendant of Harsha, organized a cavalry force mainly consisting of the Muslims. During the reign of Gopadeva (AD 1171-1180), the Brahmans consolidated their position. But the Lavanya tribe shattered their roots once again. The Damaras, Lavanyas and other tribes never allowed the Brahmans to monopolize. In the reign of Jassaka (AD 1180-1198), two Brahmans – Kshuksa and Bhima, endeavored to capture
the throne. But it was the fear of Damaras or feudal lords that prevented them. Ramadeva (AD 1252-1273) humiliated those Brahmans who had helped him in his coronation. They conspired against him but could not succeed. A reign of terror, loot and plunder was let loose against them. Many Brahmans were killed and others crushed barbarously. This was the first direct assault against them in the history of Kashmir. To save themselves they cried ” Na Batoham” (I am not a Bhatta). The Kashmiri Pandits are even now taunted as Bhattas and Dalli Bhattas.

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March 20, 2010

No Secularism , Only Islam in Kashmir : Hurriyat Leader Announces


The so called “liberals” and “Marxists” continue to live in denial , while as time and again it has been very evident that “Kashmiriat” as is is projected is an eye wash.

Two decades after 7 million Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave by islamic fanatics , the issue remains the same. No tolerance of any other religion in Kashmir other than Islam.

On 17th March , for the sake of eye wash and deception, Syed Ali Shah Geelani , leader of Hurriyat appeals to Kashmiri Pandits to return back to the valley . Though unannounced this time is the obvious rider 1. Dont expect to get justice 2. Follow our fight against Indian Govt . 3 Live like minority at ‘our’ mercy.

The statement also quotes Geelani saying :

“No solution under the Indian constitution will be acceptable to Kashmiris.”

Immediately , almost the next day , Syed Ali Shah Geelani issues a statement in a public meeting which exposes the dual standard of Kashmiri leadership and how the agenda is pan -Islamic.

Addressing a public meeting in Anantnag , Geelani says :

“Not secularism but only Islam brings peace and justice to people and nation. But some of our leaders on one hand claim to be champions of Azadi and Islam but on the other hand believe in secularism.”

It must be noted that AnantNag witnessed anti Hindu riots in 1986 , in which hundred of Hindu houses were looted and temples destroyed. AnantNag is also strong hold of PDP , Party of Mehbooba Mufti .

Having rejected secularism , Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in another statement demands reduction of time period for AmarNath Yatra.  AmarNath , not only is one of the Shakti peeth , but a place of prime importance to billions of Hindus across the globe.

Addressing a Fridaycongregation , Hurriyat leader demanded that Amarnath yatra should be reduced to 15 days as against 2 months.

The statement has generated anger among the Hindus . Brigadier  Suchet Singh [ retd ] , issues a statement which says

Geelani is trying to vitiate the atmosphere ahead of the yatra. The dates for the two-month pilgrimage have been fixed and there is no reason for reducing the duration. Geelani should focus on Haj rather than interfering in the religious affairs of Hindus,”

“The government should stop Geelani from making provocative statements,” Brigadier Singh said.”

Also , in another expose , The Govt while as have not provided to educated Kashmiri Pandit youth , despite many public announcement and promises , the very same Govt has gone ahead and announced Govt Job to those muslim youth who have been arrested for stone pelting.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also confirmed that such a policy was in the offing when he told the state assembly late Wednesday that stone pelters were “our boys” and they would be rehabilitated.

December 23, 2009

My name is not Khan, I am Mr Kaul


By Tarun Vijay

Tarun VijayI am not Khan. My name bears a different set of four letters: K A U L. Kaul. As those who know Indian names would understand I happened to be born in a family which was called Hindu by others. Hence, we were sure, we would never get a friend like KJ to make a movie on our humiliations, and the contemptuous and forced exile from our homeland. It’s not fashionable. It’s fashionable to get a Khan as a friend and portray his agony and pains and sufferings when he is asked by a US private to take off his shoes and show his socks. Natural and quite justifiable that Khan must feel insulted and enraged. Enough Masala to make a movie.

But unfortunately I am a Kaul. I am not a Khan.

Hence when my sisters and mothers were raped and killed, when six-year-old Seema was witness to the brutal slaughtering of her brother, mother and father with a butcher’s knife by a Khan, nobody ever came to make a movie on my agony, pain and anguish, and tears.

No KJ would make a movie on Kashmiri Hindus. Because we are not Khans. We are Kauls.

When we look at our own selves as Kauls, we also see a macabre dance of leaders who people Parliament. Some of them were really concerned about us. They got the bungalows and acres of greenery and had their portraits were worshipped by the gullible devotees of patriotism.

They made reservations in schools and colleges for us. In many many other states. But never did they try that we go back to our homes. They have other priorities and ‘love your jihadi neighborhood’ programmes. They get flabbier and flabbier with the passing of each year, sit on sacks of sermons; issue instructions to live simply and follow moral principles delivered by ancestors and kept in documents treated with time-tested preservatives.

They could play with me because my name is Kaul. And not Mr Khan. I saw the trailer to this fabulous movie, which must do good business at the box office.

There was not even a hint that terror is bad and it is worse if it is perpetuated in the name of a religion that means Peace. Peace be upon all its followers and all other the creatures too.

So you make a movie on the humiliation of taking off shoes to a foreign police force which has decided not to allow another 9/11.

The humiliation of taking off the shoes and the urge to show that you are innocent is really too deep. But what about the humiliation of leaving your home and hearth and the world and the relatives and wife and mother and father? And being forced to live in shabby tents, at the mercy of nincompoop leaders encashing your misery and bribe-seeking babus? And seeing your daughters growing up too sudden and finding no place to hide your shame?

No KJ would ever come forward to make a movie, a telling, spine-chilling narration on the celluloid, of five-year-old Seema, who saw her parents and brother being slaughtered by a butcher’s knife in Doda. Because her dad was not Mr Khan. He was one Mr Kaul.

Sorry, Mr Kaul and your entire ilk. I can’t help you.

It’s not fashionable to side with those who are Kauls. And Rainas. And Bhatts. Dismissively called KPs. KPs means Kashmiri Pandits. They are a bunch of communalists. They were the agents of one Mr Jagmohan who planned their exodus so that Khans can be blamed falsely. In fact, a movie can be made on how these KPs conspired their own exile to give a bad name to the loving and affectionate Khan brothers of the valley.

To voice the woes of Kauls is sinful. The right course to get counted in the lists of the Prime Minister’s banquets and the President’s parties is to announce from the roof top: hey, men and ladies, I am Mr Khan.

The biggest apartheid the state observes is to exclude those who cry for Kauls, wear the colours of Ayodhya, love the wisdom of the civilisational heritage, dare to assert as Hindus in a land which is known as Hindustan too and struggle to live with dignity as Kauls. They are out and exiled. You can see any list of honours and invites to summits and late-evening gala parties to toast a new brand. All that the Kauls are allowed is a space at Jantar Mantar: shout, weep and go back to your tents after a tiring demonstration. Mr Kaul, you have got a wrong name.

A dozen KJs would fly to take you atop the glory – posts and gardens of sympathies if you accept to wear a Khan name and love a Sunita, Pranita, Komal or a Kamini. Well, here you have a sweetheart in Mandira. That goes well with the story.

And you pegged the movie plot on autism.

I wept. It was too much. I wept as a father of a son who needed a story as an Indian. Who cares for his autistic son, his relationship with the western world, his love affair with a young sweet something as a human, as someone whose heart goes beyond being a Hindu, a Muslim or a proselytizing Vatican-centric aggressive soul. Not the one who would declare in newspaper interviews: “I think I am an ambassador for Islam”. Shah Rukh is Shah Rukh, not because he is an ambassador for Islam. If that was true, he could have found a room in Deoband. Fine enough. But he became a heartthrob and a famousl star because he is a great actor. He owes everything he has to Indians and not just to Muslims. We love him not because he is some Mr Khan. We love him because he has portrayed the dreams, aspirations, pains, anguish and ups and downs of our daily life. As an Indian. As one of us.

If he wants to use our goodwill and love for strengthening his image as an ambassador for Islam, will we have to think to put up an ambassador for Hindus? That, at least to me, would be unacceptable because I trust everyone: a Khan or a Kaul or a Singh or a Victor. Who represents India represents us all too, including Hindus. My best ambassadorship would be an ambassadorship for the tricolour and not for anything else because I see my Ram and Dharma in that. I don’t think even an Amitabh or a Hritik would ever think in terms Shah Rukh has chosen for himself. But shouldn’t these big, tall, successful Indians who wear Hindu names make a movie on why Kauls were ousted? Why Godhra occurred in the first place? Why nobody, yes, not a single Muslim, comes forward to take up the cause of the exiled and killed and contemptuously marginalized Kauls whereas every Muslim complainant would have essentially a Hindu advocate to take on Hindus as fiercely as he can?

If you are Mr Khan and found dead on the railway tracks, the entire nation would be shaken. And he was also a Rizwan. May be just a coincidence that our Mr Khan in the movie is also a Rizwan.

Rizwan’s death saw the police commissioner punished and cover stories written by missionary writers. But if you are a Sharma or a Kaul and happened to love an Ameena Yusuf in Srinagar, you would soon find your corpse inside the police thana and NONE, not even a small-time local paper would find it worthwhile to waste a column on you. No police constable would be asked to explain how a wrongly detained person was found dead in police custody?

Because the lover found dead inside a police thana was not Mr Khan. No KJ would ever come forward to make a movie on ‘My name is Kaul. And I am terror-struck by Khans’.

Give me back my identity as an Indian, Mr. Khan and I would have no problem even wearing your name and appreciating the tender love of an autistic son.

Source : Times Of India

Tarun Vijay’s Blog : http://tarun-vijay.blogspot.com/

July 4, 2009

My Mother’s 22 Rooms


KP House

Story Courtsey : Rahul Pandita

There it is. Huddled among other dolls and a few shreds of cloth. It is wearing a blue dress. I don’t remember what mine wore, for it has been sixteen years since I saw it. It might not be there anymore, but I would like to believe that it is there, invisible to the new occupants of my house. It is a dancing girl made of earth, decorating a corner of my friend’s drawing room. Touch it a little and it will start dancing, moving her neck gracefully. My dancing girl, mother bought it, when I was a child, from a potter selling his stuff on a pavement in Lal Chowk.

And sixteen years later, as I speak to you, there is no significant noise outside my room. No guttural voice and no sound of my mother’s U-shaped walker making its presence felt through the small corridor of my house. Mother fell down from her bed again this morning.

23 years ago, in Srinagar, a team of health officials was to arrive at our school. Their aim was to administer cholera vaccines to children. But for that we were supposed to take the written permission of our parents. Back home I told my father and as expected he wrote ‘No’ on my home task diary. I found it very insulting. Tomorrow all my classmates would take the vaccine and sing laurels of their bravery. And me, I would be hidden in some corner, red-faced with shame. It was not acceptable to me. So I erased father’s nay and wrote ‘Yes’ on the diary. Next morning as the needle of the syringe pierced my left arm, I did not even flinch once. I became an instant hero. But as it is with most acts of heroism, I had to pay a price for mine as well. By late afternoon, a lump had formed in my arm. By the time I reached home I was feverish and drenched in sweat. As I pulled off my shoes, mother saw me and in one instant she knew what had happened.

It was August and even by Kashmir valley’s standards, it was hot. I flung myself on the bed. Mother came and sat next to me. She gave me a glass of milk and kept her fair arm on my forehead. It felt very soothing and cold; like a spring. I went off to sleep. Next morning as I opened my eyes, the fever was gone.

Mother handled the affairs of the house like a seasoned ascetic would control his senses. She knew what was kept where. Rice, coal powder, woollen socks and gloves, soap – she kept a tab on everything. Her daily routine was more or less defined. She would wake up in the wee hours of the morning, wash clothes in the bathroom, sweep and mop the floor of every room and corridor, put burning coal dust in Kangris in winters and ultimately take stock of the kitchen. She did not believe much in spending time in worship. She was not an atheist but her belief was restricted to occasionally folding hands in front of the Shivalinga. Her God was her home and hearth.

But mother was in awe of nature. She feared its fury. Sometimes, when a storm blew, she would close all doors and windows and sit in one corner. When she no longer could face it, she would ask my father, “Will this storm stop?” Father would usually try to pacify her, but ultimately he also lost his patience. “What do you think? Would this storm last till the doom’s day?” he would snap at her. But the same meek heart turned into brave heart when any family member struggled with adversity.

It was in the mid of 1988 that my father had a mild heart attack. Actually father had a pain in the stomach and an injection prescribed by a gastroenterologist reacted, which led to the attack. Everyone in the family was too shocked to react. But not my mother. She single-handedly took my father to the hospital in an auto rickshaw. At the hospital, mother recalls, a doctor appeared like an angel. He had a black mark on his forehead, a result of praying five times a day. The moment the doctor started examining him, my father vomited. Mother says it was so intense that it went right into the doctor’s shoes. But not once did he raise his brow. He kept on treating my father.

By the end of 1989, men like that doctor somehow became rare in Kashmir. One day mother came back from office and she was crying. In the bus someone had tried to help an old Hindu lady in getting down from the bus. Another woman, who was a Muslim, criticised that man saying that the woman he helped was a Hindu and she should have been kicked out of the bus. Mother didn’t know whether what she heard was true or whether it was a nightmare. But what she had heard and seen with her naked eyes was what seemed like holding a mirror in front of Kashmir in a few months time. The time had come, once again, to leave our homeland. The migration began. Salvaging whatever little we could, essentially a few utensils and educational degrees of my college-going sister, we reached Jammu.

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