Morning of August 5 2019 brought mixed emotions, of anxiety and hope. But, what was delivered, was beyond expectation.
In the first instance, it was extremely difficult to believe what we heard was actually true or, it was wishful thinking raising its head in the mind space. Had to shuffle between channels to understand what had happened at 11.05 am in the upper house of Parliament.
Some one posted a meme on a local whatsapp group about article 370 and another person asked, “So what are the benefits of scrapping this article going to be?” And I went into a flashback.
My mother was feeling very uneasy for the last few days. She wouldn’t talk to any one missed her meals, tears would roll out for no reason. We were young but not so young so as not to notice her moist eyes, on asking, she preferred to be left alone for her pain was unexplained.
She would run towards the phone each time it rang, those were the days of limited connectivity. Dad asked her and she revealed that she had not heard about Molaji and Kakni for many days and she was not having a good feeling about it. Molaji and Kakni my Nana and Nani lived alone in their ancestral home in Sangrampura Sopore, they did not have phone but a good samaritan neighbour who had phone at his grocery store in the market near “bus adda” used to tell us about their welfare. Ma kept trying their number but no one would answer. She became restless untill after 9 days her efforts brought fruits and someone answered the phone. ” Hello, Namaskar, who is that? I’m Phoola ji, Pandit Anandram ji’s daughter calling from Delhi. I have been trying your number for the last so many days, can I talk to Baiji?” Baiji was the owner of the shop and our neighbour. The boy replied, “Sister, you are lucky that you called now, I’m Roshanlal the caretaker of this shop Baiji sent me to get the cash box from the shop so I’m here, don’t you know, there was arson and loot in Sangrama “Batta” (Hindu) shops in the market were looted and set afire, since then there has been “Tamba”, ( colloquial phrase for curfew) in Sopore which is relaxed only for an hour each in the mornings and evenings, who would answer your call, haven’t you been informed? Pt Anandram ji Putoo passed away many days ago tomorrow is his “dahimdoh” tenth day ceremony and the call got disconnected. Ma had many unanswered questions at that moment. Do my brothers know about it? Why did they not inform me? Does Tathi, ( her sister) know about it. How is Kakni? Where is she? She just kept the receiver and went on mumbling like she was possessed, trying to look for answers. We were shocked because we could only hear her side of the conversation. What Roshanlal told her, was revealed to us many days later.
To cut the long story short, my Grand father (nanaji) had expired in December of 1989 and we were in Delhi and my mother could not attend his funeral because she couldn’t get the news, neither did her three brothers who were very much in Kashmir at different locations for earning their livelihoods. They either couldn’t get the information or got delayed for lack of transportation, mobs were draging Hindus out of busses and killing them. There was no connectivity so my mother was the last one to reach. Thanks to my dad’s friend who was a serving cop in J&K police who escorted my parents from the airport to Sopore for her to attend the tenth day ceremonies.
Kakni, a very pious lady calm and composed had only one statement, he couldnt get “Mukhagni” from one of his own three sons.
After Molaji’s passing away Kakni was left alone, so she was taken to Mamaji’s house for the days of mourning to be over. My mother narrated the ordeal that Kakni had to go through, having lost her husband and then having to leave her home where she came as a bride many years ago, raised her children and continued to stay after children were settled in their own lives. Where she had a small kitchen garden and a few cows and a room full of chicks under huge wicker baskets. Another room where she dehusked the paddy from her own fields and sundried apples and tomatoes from her own orchards. She held on to the “hankal” ( the chain to bolt the gates) and kept saying, “Please do not take me away from my home, he has left me but his memories are all here. Don’t worry about me this is my place these are all my people no one will harm me. What will they get by harming an old woman, please dont take me away from my home I don’t want to die away from here”.
Between the son’s explaining to Kakni about moving to safety and her relentless pursuit to not leave her home and hearth, the masjid next door started the Azaan, curfew was relaxed for a little longer that day and people started pouring in for Namaz, older ones looked at our family with compassion and helplessness, the younger lot with disgust and before anything could be figured out the sloganeering started with “Tadbeer”, hum kya chahte, Azadi, “Aye kafiro aye kafiro Kashmir hamara chod do”.
The “hankal” was left open, everyone in the house left in a waiting taxi with nothing else in their hands. That day and this, one has only heard stories of how the house was looted, the hankals, the chokhats were all torn by the same neighbours who Kakni was willing to trust.
Those were the days of fright and disbelief. “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches” was the thought that came to my mind in reply to the question asked on whatsapp post.
At this moment of self pity I remembered my Guruji, Swami Paramananda Bharati ji who took maha samadhi only a few days ago and his words on what to do in these moments of “Glaani” echoed in my ears. Rise, O Son of Kunti!
The pluralistic land of Rishi Kashyap which was once the pedestal of knowledge exchange converted into a hell hole of fundamentalism and monotheistic bigotry. What a shame that Bharat the seat of knowledge and wisdom where universities were built much before the West became literate, had to go through such humiliation.
Risen as we are as “Kaunteya” the valiant son of Kunti. We must resurrect our “Sanskars” and strategize like Shri Krishna and claim what is rightfully ours.
The establishment has done its part, now it is time for us to build up on that.
After yesterday’s historic decision a colossal wrong has been corrected but the days in front of us are not easy, just like after a major surgery, recovery takes time and the wounds heal at their own pace but there is a glimmer of hope, of survival and of home coming.
Kudos to the people in Govt, the activists, all Indians who strengthened Government’s resolve with such a huge mandate that we have seen a new dawn.
I hope and pray that good sense prevails over the narcissistic tendencies of people who have enjoyed “Special Status” for far too long.
Our miniscule community faced the brunt because we never gave in to anti India sentiment which prevailed through Kashmir ever since Maharaja acceded to India. Muslims in Kashmir never accepted Maharaja Hari Singh as their ruler because he was a kafir.
Today I think our ancestors have got real पितृ तरपण and today they will move towards the path of Mukti. Kashmiri Pandits are grateful to PM Modi that we could see this day in our lifetimes. Yesterday’s events are nothing short of a Miracle. Many would feel what I’m feeling today.
KPs have stood like a barbed wire between the radicals and patriots for centuries, we were cut and we repaired ourselves only to come out stronger each time.
It was a question of India’s sovreignity. Kashmir has been deliberately kept simmering as it is at the cradle of an Islamic caliphate a fact as reiterated by Sh Pushpendra Kulsreshtha in many of his discourses makes sense in many ways and joins many dots.
Kashmiri Pandits being the original inhabitants were the only impediment in the way of Islamists as none could deny our originality with respect ro Kashmir hence we were shunted out not once but 7 times in 7 centuries.
We have risen again as “Kaunteya” the valiant son of Kunti.
We have been a resilient lot and have established ourselves without picking up guns unlike our brothers who converted to a faith that legitimized violence.
Resilient as we are we will once again go back and re-establish our selves. Let us all keep reminding our selves of what Shri Krishna has advised us through the Shrimad Bhagawadgita.
क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते |
क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्तवोत्तिष्ठ परन्तप ||
Don’t yield to this cowardly behaviour, O Arjuna, it is not worthy of you. Cast off this petty weakness of heart and arise, O scorcher of foes!
klaibyaṃ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha naitattvayyupapadyate |
kṣudraṃ hṛdayadaurbalyaṃ tyaktavottiṣṭha parantapa ||
Jai Hind, Jai Ma Bharati!