Thursday, May 31, 2007

Independence day

Silence on ground. Shutters down. Streets deserted. Security forces all around. Finger on trigger. Tense soldiers, suspicious of all. And People missing on the streets—sounds familiar, this scene. Yes, I am taking about Independence Day and what this day of 15th August means for a Kashmiri. I have an experience to narrate, only a year old. This Independence Day is the best time to narrate it, on its first anniversary. Flashback. Year 2006. August 15. I woke up late in the morning. There is an uncharacteristic silence around, I observe, broken from time to time by the chirping of birds. I hear my mother call out—it’s late, get up now. The milkman has not come today. Take this, my mother hands over the lota to get the milk from the nearby locality. And I am reluctantly off, wondering what happened to our punctual milkman today. As I come out of the gate, surprisingly there is no noise of traffic today coming from the nearby national highway. I walk slowly till I reach the end of a gali.I am surprised to see a soldier stationed so near to my home today. Something must have happened here. May be they are looking for someone to be taken along. May be they are conducting house to house searches. May be they have found some arms. May be they have spotted a gunman — these, and many other thoughts played on mind as I approached the soldier slowly. I am thinking of ignoring him on my way and pretend to not look at him, but he, how he can afford to ignore me. So he stops me. Kahan jana hai teray ko? he abruptly blocks by path as I am about to pass his way. Keeping the smile on, I lift up my lota and say in a polite voice, dood lana hai, I point towards the nearby locality, wahan say. Teray ko maloom nahi hai kya aaj koon sa din hai, he trying to make me understand. Nahi to, I say honestly trying hard to get him. And before I could think further, he says ‘aaj 15 August hai, Independence Day’. I still think he will allow me through as he explains in a polite tone. Before I can plead further to say ‘main javoon, he commands: Chal, wapas ja ghar and further instructs. Ghar say bahar nahi aana aaj. As I retract my steps back towards my home, the irony of what the soldier told me hits me hard. I mock at myself in soliloquy—Today is Independence Day, you fool. I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E DAY! As I enter my home, my mother quietly takes the lota from my hand. She knows why I came back so quickly with empty lota. She doesn’t say anything but I ask her in an ironic tone. Why didn’t you tell me today was Independence Day? She replies after a thoughtful pause. You know it now --Waen lajee na payee, she adds in Kashmiri. Yes, indeed, I know it now. Meanwhile I sit down to switch on the TV. The Prime Minister is giving his Independence Day speech behind that bullet proof screen from the Red ford. I change the news channel to another, and he is everywhere, live. The whole nation is listening to him but I am not interested. I change the news channel to movie channels but there too they are only showing Independence Day special patriotic bollywood movies .I am not interested to watch these too. I switch off the TV and go to my room. And spend the entire Independence Day sleeping for hours together. Late afternoon I came out of my home and saw some people walking on the road. The tension had eased off, even birds had realized they can fly around freely with independence now. Perhaps the Independence Day here comes a day after Independence Day. In a way 16th August is 15th August in Kashmir when you can enjoy independence in real sense and go around freely without being asked why. Now coming back to this year, some haunting scenes from Sanjay Kak’s film on Kashmir (Jashn-e-Azadi-How we celebrate freedom) come to my mind. There is a scene in the film where the camera, mounted on a moving vehicle, frantically surveys the streets of lal chowk on Independence Day. But there are only deserted streets in sight and shops shut down. The camera brilliantly captures the silence of Independence Day celebrations on the deserted streets of lal chowk. In another scene the camera turns towards the Independence Day festivity around Ghanta ghar. Here, all the national media is stationed, all news cameras are mounted to show it live on their news channels with their correspondents saying’ ‘aap dekh saktay hai….you know what they say. The tricolor is proudly elevated to the top of Ghanta ghar while shutters are down and people missing. And the only people beneath it are those security forces, celebrating independence—their independence. I remember reading Sanjay Kaks interview some time back where he talked about his visit to Kashmir in 2003 and what he saw on the streets of Srinagar on Independence Day. “-…I came back a month latter; it just happened to be on 15th August, Indian independence day. That day, I walked out of my aunt’s home and walked around Srinagar, and it was the most chilling image of my whole life. At 10:30 in the morning, there was absolutely no one on the streets, not even security personnel. I walked for several hours. There was not a person on the street, only a sullen silence. I think the silence that day was integral to my thinking about a film on Kashmir.” Now coming back to my preparations for this year’s Independence Day. This year again I will be at home on the Independence Day. Again, like last year, I am not going to watch the Independence Day special programmes on the news channels. I am not going to watch Independence Day special Bollywood movies. I am also not listening to that expressionless newsreader (on DD kashir at 7pm) who plays the recorded videos of Independence Day celebrations dispatched from different districts of Srinagar by the reporters. And his boring voice puts me off. And sorry I am not listening to PMs Speech as well. One thing will change however from my last year’s celebration of Independence Day—I won’t go out in the morning to fetch milk on this Independence Day. Even if it means having a milk-less morning tea for one day. This time around I won’t make any mistake. This time I am fully aware of what to do on Independence Day. And I know a different soldier will return to my locality on Independence Day. He will again block my path if I come out of my home. And he may not be as polite as the last year’s soldier. He may not like to make me understand the importance of being at home on Independence Day. So I will be at home this Independence Day, resting, and in between I have some novels to read that are lying on my shelf waiting to be read. Although I have some ‘Independence Day special’ issues of magazines before me, but I am in no mood to read these stories of what India has achieved over the years and what it needs to do to become a global superpower. This Independence Day I am going to immerse myself in those stories of other lands where people are free, where there is no soldier after every kilometer, where a native is not asked for his identity by the settler. And where a common man does not have to bear the cost of a nation’s independence. I am going to have a nice time at home. After all every day is not an independence day. This kind of freedom can be found nowhere else. I have come a long way since the last years Independence Day. After innumerable searches, secrutinising of my identity card on numerous occasions ,and forced to come down from the vehicles in the run-up to this Independence Day—I am here, to celebrate Independence Day, at my home. And on the way I have come to realize this—things don’t change in Kashmir, day after day, year after year, and Independence Day after Independence Day. Situation does not change here for the common man; only politicians change (they change parties too), their statements change, and governments change. There is this expression in Urdu which aptly sums up how I feel about this Independence Day in Kashmir. Aiasee azadi aur kahan…. Wishing you a happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dream weaver

Hear Dreams calling, distance is close.
Look at the journey; destination is waiting.
Dream in your eyes; summit in sight.
Burning desire; heartening urge
Soaring soul; a passionate heart.

Look through some eyes filled with nothing
And Enter eyes drowned in thousand dreams
Promising Dreams; waiting dreams
Dreams in flight; dreams unlimited.

One day you will stand up and admire
Seeing a dream speak in those eyes
You know, you know I had seen those eyes full.
With Dreams promising to realize and now- realized

So weave a thousand dreams
With threads of your strong desire
Hold fast your dreams with forceful emotions
And let them be unleashed to flood your heart
Triumphant emotions will soar high
And drown every loss you gained by.

Look at eyes full of dreams and see
Everything in dreams, nothing in reality.
Dream is a promise that will be kept
One day you too will wakeup and say
Ah! I am living my dream.

Now the journey towards another dream.
Now to reach where you are awaited.
Now to forget the previous dream
Now time to see another dream
Now to forget that dreams never come true.

Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Oh dream weaver.
Eyes set on the next dream
Heart kept for dreams arrest - Surrender.
Pick up the threads and weave again

Hear the dreams calling….
Where are you? Where are you? Oh dream weaver.
I am waiting, I am waiting... to be woven by you
And become one with you.

I am coming, I am coming… to weave
My thousand dreams.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

‘Your unwritten lines’

I see you in your poems
I draw you from your lines
I feel you behind those lines
Writing those unwritten lines
Foolishly I believe, they are meant for me.

Meant only for my desires your poems seem
Your beauty drawn in your striking lines
I pause on some lines and delay the pleasure
Read slowly, I tell myself, this line is yours forever
And these lines --your only assured possession.

Sometimes I don’t tell you these are my lines too
Sometimes I steal some lines to gift my restless heart
Sometimes in them I find echoes of my lost dreams
Sometimes I house in your lines my numerous dreams and forget
Sometimes dreams are realized in words only.

In your lines somewhere my dream lies buried
In your lines my dreams are lost never to be found again
In your lines I see dreams crying out for me
In your lines somewhere loneliness ends to begin.

Your expression in words, your heart in verse
Like a free bird emerges your soul
Comes out of your poems to sing with me
And meets my soul and calls my heart
And dissolves forever our distance together.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Today we are observing HARTAL
Because our leader has given a call for ‘Hartal’
Complete strike, complete shutdown!
No traffic on roads and shutters down.
No work in offices, no classes in schools.
No people on roads, observing ‘Hartal’ at home
Go home and observe the strike
And if you like, come out for sometime
Pelt stones, burn tyres, smash windowpanes, and retire home.
Watch some TV, have some tea.
Do some household chores or have a siesta.
After all, every week has two Sundays here
There is Sunday and there’s that ‘HARTAL’day.
Everyone likes a Sunday and loves that ‘Hartal’ day.
Do you think its wrong, this hartal?
Do you think our leaders mind is in a state of complete shutdown!
Oh, come on, follow his call, and observe the strike.
How we look forward to hartals and follow our leaders?
Our leader is never wrong, you see.
From his home he gives a call for Hartal.
So you get a nice day off, shut down, enjoy!
Protest from home and thank our leader.
Because, our leader has given a call for Hartal.

'...and i found you in my loss'

You are the one I was searching for long.
You are the treasure that I found and lost.
You are that perfect definition of beauty
You are the humility that grace puts on
You are everything I am not
You are that dream living in reality.
You are the distance that is close to me
You are that distance now, stretching far away from me.
You are that love story that remained unsaid
You are that chapter that ended before opening
You are that song I longed to sing but couldn’t sing
You are actually me that I have lost now
You are me and I am you
We are not two but two in one and one in two
You are that thought soothing my soul.
You are always found resting in my thoughts.
You are you now and I am I
You are what I want to forget now
But why are you so difficult to forget easily?
Oh, why you raised my heart to fall in love?
Oh, who can rescue me when I am drowned in you?
Oh, why I listened to my heart when it never listened to me?
And why I fell so easily, without thinking
Perhaps I was destined to fall before falling in love
Perhaps heart had its own unreasonable reasons
Perhaps you are that reason why heart should rule the mind
Perhaps you are that lesson I couldn’t learn, but should have learnt

Love is only in giving,
Love is only in giving, you fool.
...and i found you in my loss.
Learn your lesson,
Love no one but love All.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"An evening on the sea shore"

"An evening on the sea shore"

The roaring silence and this calm sky

As if fast pulsating heart of a bride
the viewers are the guest to this ceremony

The glitter is to decorate this eve

This endless sight, the vast scene

These wet sands soothing my aching feet

In a dim light my pen is being played

So many consequences to disturb this solace of mine

Lost am I in this nature's so natural wine

Ears just hearing these whistles,

Eyes trying to click the scene

My arms want to embrace this nature's call

Moving ahead and if I go on driven I will be

As the gravity so strong

My calmness is here also accompanied

With the only felt presence in your absence!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"fear of unknown consequences"

The reasons for your tears

Are your own smiles?

What makes you so mum?

As your speech is silent today,

Stolen who has your calmness?

Complicated appears your simplicity,

In this world of their euphoria,

What makes you wander in the unknown streets?

This garden of blooming buds,

The hands holding garlands,

Why you continue wandering in those desolate lands?

Undoubtly to you, but perhaps he understands,

But not comes to heal the hidden wounds,

With every passing breath of yours,

With your on going state,

You play in this game

With all sincere and fair means

Caught in a whirlpool you seem

Lost in a dreadful dream

What comes to blow away your strength?

Who stops your zeal?

With you what happens?

Caught why are you now and then?

Emptiness is making space,

Caged your thoughts appear,

Put under bars you appear,

Whose are those words?

Coming to your day and night of worlds,

Why scared you are of unseen?

In the shekels of woeful illusions,

Left in a forlorn state you are?

Why this hue and cry?

What if seized your thoughts will be?

Making you afraid of the fears,

Will they let you live?

Or trampled your existence will be too?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

my valley

Once my valley was abode of peace,
Heaven on earth, on which poets would feast.

Beautiful mountains, gardens and gushing streams,
Fulfillment of every nature lover's dreams.

Pandits and Muslims living in harmony
All of them in every colony.

Suddenly all we could hear were gunshots and screams
My vale was up in flames and shattered to pieces.

Violence and bloodshed became order of the day,
With out killing went not a single day

Kashmir transformed from heaven to hell,
For the world-a news commodity to sell.

From all sides we received only painful blows,
Every day on streets blood still flows.

Armed men, bunkers, curfews and firing,
For that elusive peace every soul is craving

Orphans, widows and half widows,
Without stop their number still grows

What is the future of Kashmir? Nobody knows,
But there is hope as long as jehlum flows.


Give me words of hope and peace,
Not words that make life to cease.

Give me words that add life to lives,
Not death to life, or pain to cries.

Give me words that turn into reality,
Not of violence today but tomorrows prosperity.

Take that lessness out of 'hope',
And add that 'full' to fill the hope.

Give me those snatched seeds of peace,
Which I can grow to trees, giving fresh lease.

Give me words that bring a tear,
Not of pain but of joy to bear.

a solidiers day out

Good morning

A soldier is patrolling the streets

Curfew in place, shutters down,

Silence on ground,

Finger on the trigger.

Guns pointed.

A soldier is patrolling the streets.

Street dogs sense the dread

Remain still, don't bark

Birds are watching from the trees

Without moving from trees to trees

A soldier is patrolling the streets

As the day progress, shadows lengthen

Soldier's shadow lengthens

The day is about to end

The soldier looks relaxed

There is noise …

Dogs bark

Birds fly from trees to trees

Silence is broken

Soldier's shadow is not there

He is on the ground

He is dead.

There is his body

Lying in his blood

He is taken away

But blood is still there

The day ends

The blood thickens

From red to black.

So is the night

Good night.