BY DR.ABDUL AHAD
It was one summer evening; neither too hot, nor too cold but pleasant enough to lure anyone into venturing out for a little stroll on the Boulevard and the Bund. The gradual drowning of the radiant image and bewitching orange glow of declining sun into a beautiful cluster of tiny ripples and little whirls caused in the waters of Dal and Jehlum by a mild intervention of a gently blowing wind was worth enjoying.
The spectacle was so fabulous and amazing that I could hardly resist rambling around for having my own moments of thrill and excitement. Half an hour walk along the Bund was quite a jostling, refreshing and invigorating experience. It turned out to be an intellectual stimuli for me to articulate some ideas for a discussion on Kashmir affairs—especially how the article 370 was eroded and what measures were required to restore it to its pristine form—that though not in consonance with the government policy, was first of its kind held under its patronage at the historic Srinagar Club in 1984.
By about 6 p.m, the invited audience/participants began pouring in; they included usual local intellectual bigwigs, notably: Prof. Rehman Rahi, Prof. Hamidi Kashmiri, Prof. Reyaz Punjabi, Prof. A.M. Mattoo, Prof. Ishaq Khan, Dr. Naseer and Late Ashraf Sahil. That the august body of these intellectuals, poets and scholars represented an odd assemblage of egoistic individuals was not in the least astounding to notice. They were as usual not comfy with each others presence. Their uneasiness was abundantly obvious from their tepid, cold and unfriendly gesture they made while greeting each other on their arrival at the Club. Of course they tried to hide it behind a wonderfully expressive look, giving the impression of being wallowed in nostalgic glory and splendour of octagonal Khatamband ceiling of picturesque Club building of yore, reminiscent of the Raj days. It was, undoubtedly, a manifestation not only of their pre-disposition to their mutual likes and dislikes but also of their guilt-complex of having been caught unawares by those present there.
Nevertheless, an unavoidable wait for the chief-guest drew the uneasy lot down to bestir themselves and, subsequently, they succeeded in dissolving the apparent mist of their indifference into a lively atmosphere of friendly exchange of giggles and pleasantries and an amiable conversation about issues concerning their nation.
Visibly to a warm reception and amidst a great rejoicing, the chief-guest, fortunately enough, arrived well within reasonable limits of wait before the patience of the audience was exhausted. It was, appreciably, a good gesture much to their comfort and totally opposed to what his prodigious father was so callously fond of: an imprudent lateness to which he was committed with impunity much to the public annoyance, inconvenience and impatience.
The guest was none other than Dr. Farooq Abdullah, a flamboyant son of the lionized Shiekh, who, though, a borne rebel had died, not long ago, a blithering lackey; a most loyal sergeant of his Lordship; leaving behind a roistering legacy not weighing beyond an instilled land reforms and menacing memories oscillating between love and hate syndrome.
In his new avatar of Chief-Minister, he looked quite immaculate, effervescent, warm and impressive; but it was too strenuous and demanding a portfolio for a happy go lucky Dr. Farooq—with lackadaisical approach and nonchalant attitude—that he fell flat within a few weeks after assuming power. Interestingly enough, the façade of indifference maintained by the audience began to meltdown before his acquiescent, informal and sociable type. The weight of his personal warmth did wonders thus; it completely evaporated their inhibitions and misgivings, if they had any, and worked them up into a fraternity of mute spectators whose faces soon wore a positive look that, unmistakably, acted as a restorative for him. The reactions and responses that his gestures evoked began so artificially unfolding on their faces that these failed them to disguise their real feelings. Even an ordinary dizzy eye could just discern that these were merely a cover of their pretence to being completely over-awed by his wholesome personality and dignity of his office.
Among the awestruck audience nobody dared to disturb the one-man talk show. It continued uninterruptedly for sometime till, ultimately, its abhorring idyll was shattered by this writer by initiating a discussion on what had rendered Kashmir identity impotently ineffective and imbecile.
It was like filling the sugar bowel with salt much to the obvious discomfiture of the intellectuals who were least prepared to share such unforeseen and unconventional views that had immense potential to annoy the powers that be. Despite not auguring well, the discussion, nevertheless, evoked some attention to the evocation of the Kashmiri life through various vicissitudes during both its pre and post disputed era when it was exposed to a pitiable plight to run the gauntlet of exploitation from its own guardians and supporters simply for some rich pickings and enjoyable moments of ribaldry and western-style luxury.
Dr. Farooq too listened with considerable mindfulness; paying sedulous and rapt attention to every detail of systematic subordination of Kashmir to foreign hegemony and resultant collapse of its historical character. He became too sentimental to curse all those who had collaborated in the brazen vandalism and criminal ruination of Kashmir’s chequered ethos and sounded recalcitrant to spew up poisonous attack and a stern rebuke against the very masters who had ensured his coronation, apparently for his protestations of unwavering loyalty and unflinching faith in their democratic traditions. He used a typical Kashmiri phraseology to give vent to his deep feelings:
Az na tae pagah Kasheer
tari poori poore appoor
…to be continued
Dr. Abdul Ahad is a well-known historian of Kashmir. He presents a perspective on the Kashmir issue and talks about Kashmir’s history and individuality and personality.