We all have distinctive background or identity which exhibits who we are. Aren’t there times when one finds oneself at the edge of precipice? Despite circumstances, a soul should never forget that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Do labels such as an Indian, Kashmiri, or Pakistani define me? Identity, as it’s called, puts a name to you and tells you who or what you are. As a child, this identity affair planted me in a bothersome dilemma.
The November end kept the birth of an introverted child in the valley of dense woods and fresh waters—Kashmir. Introversion, a trait or a part of one of my little quirks, in which I was soaked, twisted my arm to remain aloof from people, talk much less and shed every one of the fortunes of befriending me. Kashmir, whose serene evening breezes and dense woods fascinate all humans, yet the developments in the valley seemed unintelligible.
Since childhood, I’ve had espied the shadow of the armed forces everywhere—the gateway of school premises, marketplaces, parks, neighborhoods, and alleys. Gradually, I learned that Kashmir, my motherland, is the highest militarized area of the world. I read in books that it was a princely state reigned over by a Maharaja called Hari Singh who signed the Instrument of Accession in order to join with India without orchestrating a plebiscite(a type of vote)—whether Kashmiris wanted to remain independent, or join with Pakistan or India.
At the age of 7, I beheld the first ever turmoil of the observant years of my childhood which divested me and other hundreds of thousands of students of the schools embracing bloodbath and kidnapping of youth to the places, which only God was aware about. I was being briefed on the fact that the brutalities weren’t first of its kind but Kashmir had been bearing ever since 1947. My mama put me in the picture about Sopore massacre (a small town in Kashmir) which she painted as the most catastrophic of all the barbarities ever borne by Kashmir. She said that army men threw petrol and gun powder on buildings, marketplaces and residential areas and let them ravage in flames turning 400 complexes into ashes and soot and inflaming umpteen people alive back in 1993. Growing up, beholding the insurgencies, curfewed during bright sunny days and starred nights, bloodsheds, longest internet and communication suspensions (233 days in 2019), gunshots reverberating between army men and rebels in the encounter (some hopelessly pinning hopes on freedom and some dreaming to unite with Pakistan), I could feel that the horror had got its hands on my childhood and wreaked havoc on the entire facets in its entirety.
Everything was overly afar even from the subtle semblance of normalcy as I was again divested of the school for more than 7 months, let alone could I blissfully lick an ice-cream by the roadside, cycle on boulevard, run in fields or watch the starry sky with a loved one. Being boxed in at home, I found myself at the verge of catching grave despondency chiefly when I wasn’t accustomed to speaking my heart out. I was afraid that if my unsaid yet suppressed emotions would blossom into lifelong chronic depression onto me.
Amid the melancholy, I found poetry, both as my refuge as well as my supporter. I could make lovely poetry out of the entombed assortment of emotions of the unfathomable depths of my heart, hence unloading myself of the loads. Having to burden this, I am now a staunch supporter of the conviction of “taking and facing life as it is”. I see a fighter in me who has the bravery to triumph over the gravest situations and turn them into little yet jolly accomplishments. Even the sharpest pang of pain could be switched to a positive change making one stronger evermore.
Fatima Sherwani is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Zaina Shahid Khan