Question: What is the future of Kashmir?
Answer: Good question.
When past was imperfect and present is tense, and when past was soaked in blood and present is baying for more blood, the question is what can you expect from the future? And what can you expect to see in future? I don’t have an answer except--hope. Hope of a better future, hope of a better Kashmir to live in. I am hopeful because hope means promise; because it is only hope that cheers you up amidst the despair of present hopelessness. I always hope, for a better tomorrow, even if people tell me that there is none. I am hopeful of a Kashmir that is bright and beautiful and peaceful even if I’ll not be there to see it. The present has nothing new to offer to the present generation except hope of a better future to live in. We can always hope. We can all hope. Perhaps, we can only hope. But it’s good to hope because hope looks towards future, emerges from the present, and forgets the painful past.
The only soothing word that provides solace amidst all the dispiriting words we live amongst—violence, conflict, armed forces, bunkers, hartals, guns, bullets, encounters and political uncertainty—is hope. Hope is like that soul in us that has not yet died, will never die, can’t be killed, escapes death and reminds us of life, ahead. Hope is like that invisible thread that pulls us all towards that promise of a better future, towards that thought of a better future. Hope has that inherent promise of being fulfilled in future. Hope lives in our hearts and reminds us to-- take heart; things will be better, soon. Keep hoping, hope says, but don’t sit idle, work on your dreams that you hope to realize one day. And if we look closely, there is hope even in hopelessness. Hope gives us sight when we are unable to see. Hope is blind man’s sight. Hope shows the vision when our sight is blocked. Hope provides wings when we are unable to walk. And then we fly and no longer walk. Hope even rises from hopes that are dashed to ground. Even from the ashes, new hopes emerge.
Another question: How long can we hope? Answer: don’t ask.
Because it doesn’t matter. Because we will still hope, keep hoping for that prosperous future no matter how long it takes to realize. We will continue to hope even if we know that there is no hope. Even if people tell us-there is no hope, stop hoping. But we hope. Hope against hope. We are hopeful. Hope after hope. We are hoping. One hope, another hope, many hopes. Hopes innumerable:
We hope Kashmir issue no longer remains an issue. We hope Kashmir dispute is solved, conflict resolved. We hope our voices are listened, cries heard, and aspirations met. Amidst violence we hope for peace to prevail. When we hear gunshots on the streets, we hope nobody is hurt, and people survive. And when somebody is wounded, we hope he doesn’t die. Amidst death we hope for life. And amidst that life before death, we hope for better life, for peace. Engulfed in the darkness of present, we hope for light to emerge, and show us a way forward. Amidst our leaders gone astray, we hope for leaders to emerge, and leadership to lead. Amidst many divisions, we hope for unity. Amidst wavering opinions, we hope for a firm stand. Amidst changing statements, we hope for a principle stand. Amidst the dilemmas of our belongingness, we hope to belong somewhere. On the path of destruction, we hope for progress. Amidst all of our collective melancholy, we hope for happiness to return. Amidst pain, we hope for joy to bring back cheer.
No matter how violent present is and how bleak future looks, we still hope, and continue to hope because that’s all we can do. Hope is that thing in our hands which no one can destroy. Hope is that possession of ours which no one can take away from us. Hope is an invisible thing but it is still there in our hearts and minds. Like a ray of light, hopes emerges and lights the path of a brighter tomorrow, for a better future. That ray of hope then turns into light, becomes a torch. That’s when hope becomes a reality of what we once hoped to live.
You can kill people but you cannot kill hope. You can pump bullets into people, make them bleed, spill their blood, but hope is impenetrable to bullets. And hope does not bleed like us; it only breeds more hopes. You can make people to disappear, jail them, torture them, make them week, but hope-- hope will still remain there, firm. And hope will triumph in the end. When nothing remains, hopes emerge. Hopes sustain life and sow the seeds of life that is ahead, that is better than the present. Hopes never rest except on more hopes. Hope is everything and often comes out of nothing. And when everything is lost, hope remains. And remember when hopes are lost, everything is lost. Everything.
Here, my words of hope-- come out of the present hopelessness, for a better future, for a better Kashmir, which I know is distant but not that far