I don’t know how to begin this post. I don’t know if it’s the right time for the kind of post this is going to be. I don’t even know what direction this post is going to take. As I start, the only thing I am certain about is that I really want to write this one, without bothering if I should, or if the time is right. Kashmir
So Norway was trending the entire day today and for all the right reasons. That got me thinking, what a beautiful world it would have been, if we too had a neighbour who was friendly and who loved us like equal humans. We would have loved them back and maybe showered them with gifts too. We are anyway born of the same source. We speak the same languages, eat the same food, wear the same clothes and look like distant cousins anyway. What if there was harmony instead of terrorism? What if borders were respected and not violated? What if religion wasn’t there to divide? What if Kashmir was still a heaven on earth? And then I put a stop to my thoughts. Aren’t ironies just plain beautiful?
Kashmir being a heaven and a hell at the same time isn’t just a beautiful irony but a living, breathing, crippling, and hurting one that refuses to heal or die. One day it is pretty and pristine and another day it is burning and bleeding. A book by Rahul Pandita called Our Moon Has Blood Clots describes life in Kashmir as is – beautifully raw, unpolished and without rounding off corners that hurt. I have not been to Kashmir yet, but the book gave me a fair idea of what happened to the heaven that once was, heaven that’s rotting in hell today.
As I run out of beautiful words to describe Kashmir from what I know of it through images I have seen and made up in my mind, I could not help but wonder if and when I’ll be able to experience what Kashmiriyat is. Is it a morning spent on the Dal Lake savouring a delicious kahva or is it catching a glimpse of a pretty sunset while enjoying a shikara-boat ride. Is it walnuts, saffron and Deodars or is it the Pashminas I can kill for. Is it the world famous carpets or is the un-named mountains and meadows. Is it yet another level of pretty that’s unattainable, or is it too good to be true?
Dhwani Shah who is a Graphic Designer & Illustrator has some answers and all of them are pretty. She happened to visit Kashmir in June 2016, just before the madness took over yet again. I hope Kashmir remains as calm and pristine as Dhwani had the pleasure of experiencing. Her picture stories subtract a dimension from Kashmir, one which I hope ceases to exist someday- the dimension of pain. These illustrations freeze Kashmir to frame a happy place, taking away all the suffering.
Aren’t these just brilliant? My friend Sailaja, who accompanied Dhwani on that trip could not stop talking about these sketches, and rightly so! Kashmir had left an impact on her, and so did these pieces of paper depicting Kashmir beautifully in black and white. If only there were a black and white solution to all of Kashmir’s problems as well. Hope is a misnomer which makes it believable that one day, this suffering shall be a thing of the past and happiness and prosperity will return. Then Kashmir won’t just be a happy place in a black-and-white picture, but for real as well.