Note: The following article has been written by Aayat Aziz, a bright mind who had joined us for The Youth Leadership Programme in the summer of 2020.
Last year in August, I was 17 and came to a new place with new people-Bangalore. Nobody knew me nor I knew anybody. The atmosphere was eerie and was feeling homesick. I thought of talking to my family. I dialed my mother’s number but no reply came. I thought she was busy so, I called my dad and the list is long but no one picked up my call. I became worried as I was unaware of what’s happening.I typed in KASHMIR and it was enough to trigger me. While reading the headlines “ARTICLE 370 scrapped, Curfew imposed, tears started rolling down my cheeks.
I just wondered how life has become really dangerous nowadays. You can’t even imagine what will happen to you next. It makes me feel sad how the greed for land still continues but with much more intensity. The gap between minority and majority has increased. There is no place left where there is peace. Why do people fail to understand that before being a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a Mumbaikar , a Kashmiri, a Bangalore an or a Delhiite we all are all part of humanity? Instead of border, our culture should define us. It is something that doesn’t divide us but unites us.
My family was in Kashmir when article 370 was scrapped and I had not spoken to them for three complete month. I wasn’t aware whether they are alive or dead. After three months, they went to police station every week and talked to me for 2 minutes as many people used to wait there to talk to their loved ones. At that time even ISRO lost their contact with the satellite and PM Modi was sympathizing with the ISRO members. I uttered to myself, “ Who can understand the disparity of loved ones but us-The ISRO chief and me”. He lost his contact with his child and I lost my contact with my family . But what raged me was PM Modi and others could express their sadness when a Satellite is lost but not when human life is lost in Kashmir or a child is desperately waiting to talk to her family.
That was a really hard time for me and darkest period of my life.Imagine someone protected for 17 years by her family and suddenly exposed to a new environment without any contact with her loved ones. All those months, I used to murmur the lines of Agha Shahid Ali:
“I flipped through their visions,
left my number in their sleep.
But no one called back.
I called all night,
called for years,
called till their lids began to ring,
ten, twenty, two hundred times,
and then they went blind
on my dreams.
Now their eyes don’t open.
No one picks up the phone.”
― Agha Shahid Ali, The Veiled Suite: The Collected Poems
It is been a year now and those events still haunt me. I still remember those sleepless nights and my battle with it all alone. My friends supported me inside out but I was missing that motherly love, the timeless conversations with my family. Every time I think about it, my eyes become numb and think that
the land of Kashmir is not as important as the people of Kashmir and their fundamental rights. To all the Indians who say “Kashmiris are antinational”. I want to tell that you never let us feel a part of you!
Instead of caging us, give us wings to fly, and instead of spending on the military in Kashmir, spend on improving our health infrastructures, or in educating us, where would we have been?