Dear Kashmiris, My Heart Goes Out to You in Your Hour of Crisis

How are shikara owners managing without tourists? — File photo

After 30 days of lockdown, what the nation desperately wants to know

Ananda Maitreya | Caravan Daily

MY dear Kashmiris, how are you holding up? Is there enough medicine in the Valley, especially for crucial interventions and critical ailments? How do you not panic when medicine shops are either closed or are running low on stock? How would you feel while on your way to neighbourhood store full of mortal danger?

Are children going to school? Are colleges open? Are city parks open? Do children play catch-catch or are the security forces only ones playing the game? How are you getting your fresh provisions? Which shops are open and how are you even going out to shop? Maybe you can at least order on one of those food apps…? Oh, I forgot, of course, you cannot…

How are shikara (houseboats in Srinagar) owners managing without tourists? Their shikaras rock empty in the Dal Lake mulling their own dull reflections, as the owners are deprived of their source of income… How are other daily wage earners managing? How about that guy who sets up a kiosk each morning to hawk newspapers? Is his baby crying out of hunger at his home?

How are families coping with no news from their near and dear ones outside Kashmir? Now, not only do you not have a post office worth anything, you have no telephone exchange abuzz with chatty airwaves…

How do you deal with the worry about the wellbeing of your loved ones far away from you? I remember once I put my phone on silent mode for about three hours while going out. When I returned home found my father at the gate pacing up and down, worried sick that I was not picking up his call and letting him know about my whereabouts. And I was very much an adult male, familiar with the city… How do you console yourselves in such circumstances when you do not hear from your sons and daughters and parents and uncles for a prolonged period of time?

I could apologise for not doing more, for being busy with work and lie – and not blocking highways and marching to parliament, or even forming a human chain of solidarity, like the people of Hong Kong did, but I will abstain from such hollow shows of sympathy and solidarity. I will just acknowledge that I did not know how to do anything that would ease your suffering.

I read a comment on twitter that for separatist, ghaddar (traitor), stone-pelting people like you, ‘umar quaid‘ (life imprisonment) is also fine. I know… I know… I should not pay attention to such abhorrent comments and sentiments, but I have to acknowledge not every one of my mainland sisters and brothers is weeping for you Kashmir… then again, I know, as people with a steely resolve, nurtured in the lap of the northern mountains, used to betrayals and oppression, you too say with stoicism, and maybe some weariness, some wryness: Don’t Cry for Us, India…


Ananda Maitreya is a Delhi-based writer and a student of social movements. He is involved in various movements for the cause of marginalised people, including Dalits and Adivasis and Palestinians.


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