Love Across LoC

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Mercifully, it did not end in tragedy like classical Oriental lore of Shireen-Farhad and Laila-Majnu, but only just. The twenty-two-year-old Poonch girl who skirted the system and tempted fate the other day to do her heart’s bidding is lucky to be alive and back with family, hopefully to fight another day. In the part of the world she headed for, transgressions of this type invite summary execution for family namoos, or tribal retribution of the Mukhtaran Mai kind, with neither Syed Ali Shah Geelani, nor Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, or a vast conglomerate of ulama, to pontificate how the demands of deen have been satisfied. In any case, thanks to the vigilance –and uncharacteristic restraint – of the forces on this side of Kashmir’s line of divide, Bollywood has lost a tragic theme, liberals a cause celebre, and the frontier lass her secret tryst. But still, the remarkable aspect of this affair is that the intrepid individual in question was far from daunted by the card-board cut-out portrayals of doomed trans-national love put on the silver screen, or the forbidding military pickets and cannons fighting over her land. Fervent adherents of certain political persuasions are bound to vehemently object to the term ‘trans-national’ as applied to the two sides of the Line of Control, for, in the realm of aspiration, the state is a single entity as it stood on August 14-15, 1947. To say anything less would mean high treason and sacrilege rolled into one, not permitted even as a slip-of-the-tongue. The lofty ideal, however, has little relevance for youthful hearts living on the frontiers, except when called upon to shed blood for God and Country. For the rare others, the pangs of love know no boundaries, national or international.

The reference here is to at least three Kashmiri notables and nobles who have won brides from saat samandar paar, and struck a big blow for tearing down barriers with high-profile nuptials. But then, leaderships are a breed apart, untrammelled by considerations and conditions making life such an ordeal for common folk. The frontier girl may say with some justification that the worthies have truly led by example, even if her adventure was a far cry from liaisons forged over fashionable dinners and luncheons in even more fashionable drawing rooms in fashionable cities. In her humble hamlet, probably often a target of cross-border shelling, levelled by the facebook with the greatest of metropolises, she had struck up a cyber-friendship with, and perhaps even a liking for, a netizen living in forbidden lands just miles away, and resolved to meet him. That the meeting never took place is entirely in character of the lay of the land having one topography for the priesthood and quite another for the laity – a privilege the social and political elite of much be(k)nighted Kashmir would be loath to share with commoners. But today, when the Line of Control is as abuzz with bullets as with high-powered pally-pally delegations, the moot point is whether anyone would find the time and the inclination to speak up for this girl in Golat, Mendhar, and her harmless bid to meet an unseen friend in PaK, lest a spontaneous meeting of the hearts yield a more salutary harvest than contrived confabs.

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