Through the Indian news outlets, much has been spoken about the ravaging conflict in Kashmir for years. This ‘Heaven on Earth’ is, ironically, smeared by the blood of innocents who were mere collateral damage in the fight. However, no amount of sympathy from the whole nation can sum up the terrible ground reality.
Farah Bashir in her memoir ‘Rumours of Spring’ paints a picture of her life spent in Kashmir. While most of us reminisce our childhood as a relaxed time of our lives, Bashir’s descriptions of her adolescence are the contrary. She gives voice to the little girl she once was and chronicles the anxiety-riddled time of her life.
Although belonging to a well-to-do family and living in a good neighbourhood, she still couldn’t escape first-hand violence. She particularly emphasises on the life-altering year of 1989. From this year on, curfews, crackdowns, unexplained arrests, shootings, and teargas became a grim reality for her and her loved ones.
The lack of security was a norm for thousands of Kashmiris. I am unable to shake off one particular incident. During this time, she developed a habit of pulling hair from her scalp at night. The following morning, she woke up to the smeared droplets of blood on her pillow. It became a coping mechanism in these ungodly moments.
Along with the blood-curdling moments, she also fondly remembers her time spent with family before 1989. Like the anecdotes told by her grandmother, the unique cooking rituals followed at her home and the stress-free life they lived. The beautiful, yet simplistic, pleasures abruptly halted one fine day. An activity like playing the radio could get you killed.
While living in the same nation as hers, we both grew up worlds apart. Countless children and adults are killed or permanently traumatised in this battle. How do you overcome a mental injury like that? The lingering threat and uncertainty of life that surrounds these locals is unfathomable. Bashir also describes her shock on seeing a newspaper advertisement with models promoting a product. A young self, who was only exposed to the hostility, felt as if their struggle didn’t matter.