Saturday, August 18, 2012

Epilogue: Reflections on Kashmir

[Part 7 of 7 writings on Kashmir]

It was the day of jumme-ki-namaaz yesterday – a big day, considering it was the last jumma in the holy maah-e-ramzaan of this year. Evening traffic from Ganderbal to Srinagar, and everywhere else in the city, was filled with large and small buses and Sumos (they call it "Somu" here) shouting Dargaah-Dargaah to attract the attention of devotees who would want to offer this namaaz at Hazratbal. I was in the shikara of Ghulam Mohammad, an 85 year old man who got me back on the shore when it was time to open his Roza – I paid him more than he had asked for, and got a heartfelt "dua karoonga khuda aapko salaamat rakhe." Walking by the lake at this hour, you could witness numerous people drinking glasses of milk offered free outside various shops across the entire stretch – the first drop of liquid after a day-long fast.

Abdul, the guy at my hotel, left for his home this morning – a place near Pahalgam, with a beautiful name called Aish-muqaam – where he intends to spend Eid with his family. If the moon is sighted this evening, Eid will be celebrated tomorrow itself, else he'll have to wait one more day, fasting. I gave him a tip when he was leaving, and got a sincere "shukriya janaab, meherbaani."

I have an afternoon flight, and I spend the next few hours by the lake. I recall my dad's words, when I had told him I'm going to Kashmir alone. He had said – "Oh go ahead! Paryatan apne aap mein ek adhyayan hai (travel is a study in itself)." He has this knack of saying important things, diluting their intensity with a background smile – when I was a kid, he used to tell me the most simple of things, and add up their priority by a passing remark "Dhyaan rakhna, chhoti kintu mahatwapoorna baatein! (remember, small but important things in life)."

I reflect back on the things I learnt over the last week.

About the forbearing of Kashmir's suffering masses under the dual bane of poverty and militarization. About the utter simplicity of soul and the collective spirit of faith which unites them into a people who live seemingly unimportant lives in silence. About Islam, a religion so powerful that it has survived through centuries without adulterations even when the world kept altering, unites populations across the entire globe, and can still be condensed in just one holy book.

About the beauty of nature. About the 'stationary' valleys and mountains and rivers and trees which are more 'living' than the moving human creatures deluding themselves as the creators of a 'free world'. About the purity and power of rains, skies and earth in making you feel the insignificance of rushing through a few decades of existence, with a worthless purpose largely composed of outrunning each other.

About my own self. About being called a tourist, a journalist, an adventurer, or an idiot at various points of time during my travel. About thinking a little bit more, a little bit beyond. About ilm, amal and akhlaq (theory, practice, and virtues). About writing. About missing people. About meeting people and trying cuisines. About getting tips on riding a horse, which never worked. About feeling an adrenaline. About dropping my guard and doing different things in life. About being inspired.

I boarded my flight at Srinagar around 2:30 PM after going through at least 4 layers of security screening – the Srinagar airport is a fortress, and getting past it includes rules such as no handbags on-board, and identifying your check-in luggage by actually going inside the luggage loading area: your luggage isn't loaded into the place until you have physically identified it as yours. I had asked for a window seat today. As the plane takes off, the valley below me starts receding into a beautiful panorama once again. A smile crosses my lips – a stray thought says "I was there." Parting from Kashmir is tough, and I promise myself to come back again, within this lifetime.

They say that a picture speaks a thousand words. Sitting at the Delhi airport, I am looking at the numerous pictures I clicked during my trip. Visiting Kashmir on a 14.1" LCD screen seems to be a gross injustice – after all, a thousand words for Kashmir are like a drop in the ocean.

Kashmir is like love. It doesn't have a 'summary' or a 'conclusion'.


Anonymous said...

Ramzaan would have given your whole adventure the smiles and celebrations that this heaven houses in it too. Perhaps the nxt trip in this lifetime. Loved taking this trip with u; even if tht meant jst virtually.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about the last line?