This sound coming from the ambulances — carrying injured, dead, blind, sometimes just body parts. And this sound coming from the police vehicles.
These are my own people being killed, raped, blinded and injured, I know. But what on God’s bleeding-red earth can I possibly do?
Everyone knows who is being killed and why, and who’s killing who, and why. Our textbooks won’t teach us why this is happening and how to end it. Our teachers won’t teach us what to do to end this suffering and chaos.
But seriously, what can I do?
I know writers who openly write about this tyranny and the next day they are on the list of ‘censored writers’ and constantly under surveillance.
I’m not brave like those writers to openly call the queen a slut. A queen surrounded by eunuchs, only concerned about her power and sexual needs. Not giving a damn about who is dying and who is not, yet, dying. The more she kills, the more powerful she becomes.
I’m not brave like those writers who call the king a dull-dancing bull. All he knows is to sing, dance and drink naked with girls 50 years younger his age.
I’m not brave like those who write about the corrupt politicians. All they care about is money, sex, and power. They are the traders of the dead. They sell the pure, sacrificial blood and buy property abroad. They sell the conflict to the highest bidder. I am not even brave enough to call them a zombie. These politicians romance with the oppressors and beg them for love and graciousness. They are the real whores of the tyrant oppressors.
Become an artist?
I see artists and singers making songs and art. And I see their songs getting banned, their studios raided, and their paintings being burnt.
Well, I used to get A+ always in drawing classes on Fridays at school. And all my diagrams were always more accurate than others in Math B (Geometry) and Physics. I could have pursued my career as a cartoonist, but they banned the Facebook page of a Kashmiri cartoonist after he made some fearless cartoons depicting the true scenario of our situation. He lives in exile now.
I see poets, thousands of them, writing protest poetry on Instagram. One scroll up and the poem becomes the past. One reads them, likes, shares and both the poet and reader forget about it. Then the next post, the poem, and the next whatever. And, how does one read these poems with a lurking e-curfew for the next six months?
Become a journalist?
My friend Aasif has been in jail now for 700 days because he wouldn’t give up his sources.
Hundreds of newspapers and magazines write so much about this mayhem. Next day, Gull Kaak artistically makes a cone and puts wet tobacco in an article written by a Harvard returnee. Mattarwalla sells peanuts in a write up written by a famous Kashmiri scholar teaching Conflict Management in the West. Only Monjiguel and Masala-sellers benefit from these newspapers filled with stories about culture, heritage, the allies of the 90s, and the nostalgia of the past, while the present and future remain in ruins.
They treat the reality like an ancient myth.
I’m not brave like those who risk life to cover an encounter. I see them clicking how aliens kill us, and then, they are put behind bars and sometimes their own organizations label them as terrorists. I don’t know who took Zuhaib’s left eye from the street after he was hit with pellets in his head while covering the clashes. His camera has become a museum of grief.
What can I do? Become a rebel?
Those who pick up the arms are martyred within months after they leave their warm beds and start living in the caves. They are sold by their own folk for a few bucks. Honestly, I am not brave like these heroes of ours who know they don’t have a chance, but still they can’t ignore the fragrance of Jannah. And after they are martyred we upload the pictures of their dead bodies on Social Media and mourn for 24 hours. This vicious circle never breaks. We die. We move on. We die again. We mourn for a day. We move on. Seriously, I don’t want to move on. But we got to feed the kids in the upcoming long curfew.
Become a Police Officer?
And do what exactly? Assist the aliens in killing, abducting, blinding, and torturing their very own people with whom they share their language and their motherland? You know what I sometimes think? I think these aliens haven’t killed as many innocents as our own uniformed goons have. They are the same as the Renegades of the 90s with a more sophisticated license to kill. I sometimes wonder what would happen if they would turn their guns towards the real enemy! But, hey, they got kids they have to send abroad for education. So what if they kill innocent kids of their own neighbors. Everything is fair in love and war, right?
Become a leader?
I don’t see leaders getting arrested anymore because of their struggle and sacrifice for freedom. They are busy being interrogated about where they put the Hawala money. They receive money from around the world to help those who lost their loved ones to the Resistance, instead these leaders, they spend the money making Shopping Malls and Resorts, buying luxury cars and big houses.
Become an entrepreneur?
My old parents want me to do some business and support them financially. But I see curfews and e-curfews every other day. Hell, like it’s certain tomorrow is not hartal and I can merrily go to work and bring dollars to pay bills and buy medicine for my ailing parents.
So, what can I do?
I could go to the UK and publish a Kallekharaab novel on Kashmir’s collaborators. In New York, I can publish a memoir about how this conflict ruined my life and how I became one among the top ten richest people in the Valley. From London, I will post my protest poetry on Facebook and give lectures in universities all around the world. There is no internet ban there.
But when I applied for a passport, they didn’t issue it. I was a stone-pelter once.
Now I try to escape into books but these sirens make it difficult to concentrate on the words.
So I put my headphones on, close my eyes and listen to the music on full volume.
Oh, it’s Bob Dylan! My favorite!
“How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned…
…Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
O great! Our own MC Kash, his studio was raided by police after he sang this song.
Against the things you’ve done
For a mother who lost her son…
For my brother who’s dead
Against the bullet in his head
I’ll throw stones and never run
Until my freedom has come.”
MC Kash doesn’t sing any protest raps anymore. I wish he would start again.
“Al Jihad o Wal Jihad
Khuda Kay Deen Kay Liye
Ye Sarfarosh Chal Paday…”
Nope. Skip this one. This is a seasonal song — to be played in the Masjid during hartal and curfew seasons only.
God! What a depressing playlist! Don’t I have any Bollywood romantic songs in my damn mobile!
After a song ends and before the beginning of a new song – between that 5-second pause, I still hear the sirens — as if reminding me that the next bullet can be in my head; I’m the next blind person with 300 pellets in my skull; I’m the next censored writer, painter, singer or the next dead body being carried away in the ambulance. Maybe then, and only then, when I am dead — these sirens won’t bother me anymore.