Kashmir 2015 — A year of quaking

Perhaps only a gay marriage would scandalize Kashmiris more. So when PDP entered into wedlock with the BJP earlier this year, most people’s WTF meter went up several notches. It was blasphemy — of the highest order, some thought. You can’t afford to have a Shyama Prasad Mukherjee school of thought coming up bang in the middle of Srinagar. 

Days following the coronation of Mufti Sayed and his motley cabinet, the common refrain was one of shock. Darn, it was clearly not what Kashmiris had risked their voting fingers for, but you see, the inevitable had already happened. Nine months on, the PDP-BJP combine seems to be going steady, with occasional tu-tu-mein-mein but then what is a marriage without an occasional feud. Wise men call it the spice of life.

There were more rumours in end-March. It continued to rain for days on end. Big deal — it pours incessantly in many parts of the word but Kashmir is different. We have a creaky infrastructure,  our rivulets aren’t properly drained and sewage overflows in rainfall. A non-stop spell of rain can spell doom. 

Everyone uploaded flood gauge readings — Sangam, Ram Munshibagh and Asham — on social media — 24x 7

Memory afresh with the flooding of 2014, March rains bothered us a great deal. Social media, with its increasing flocks of rumor-mongers meant that pictures from previous year’s big floods went into circulation. Naturally the nation’s collective blood pressure shot up. It came down only when the rains stopped. Soon the usual madness resumed. 

In between there were several mid-summer tremors. Some shadowy guys emerged from the woodwork and started bumping off people in the telecom business apart from targeting cell phone towers. In the last 25 years almost everything has been attacked in Kashmir — from the headless white horse that stood outside Pestonji building on Residency Road (now relocated to an godawful mini mall, I hear) to lorries carrying cattle. 

Targeting the sad-looking towers was a new low, even by Kashmiri standards. In any case several landlords, frightened to death, asked telecom operators to remove the vile towers from their properties. Since dismantling of towers was going to take some time, an enterprising landlord got a hastily written banner up outside his home: Is badbakht tower ko hum ne nakara kar kiya hai. (We have rendered this wretched tower useless). Just by way of abundant precaution, some would say.

And autumn gave way to winter. Suddenly a political quake swayed the valley on Christmas. Just when Pakistan was getting ready to celebrate the birthday of its two great fathers — Jinnah (founding father) and Nawaz Sharif (father of all things rich), in strode the selfie samrath of India — PM Modi — along with 100 wise men. 

Sharif has been at pains to explain that the pink turban — now an urban myth — was not from Modi. The media refuses to believe.

By some fluke or luck it was also the wedding day of Mehr-u-Nisa, the beautiful granddaughter of PM Sharif, and who better to bless the newly-weds than Don Corleone himself. Kashmiris watched in horror as Nawaz Sharif, himself a true-blooded Kashmiri, strutted around in a pink turban gifted by his bbf, a token of endearment understood only by those under 30, with the exception of Pakistan’s Prime Minister, perhaps.

That same night there was a massive earthquake, shaking parts of Pakistan and Kashmir. Since the epicenter was somewhere in Afghanistan, conspiracy theorists and gossip mills got their grist — almost readymade. So Modi visited Afghanistan, and then Pakistan, bringing about the quake. As Kashmir is at the core of it all, we had to shake along. 

Heck, despite chilay-kalan and the icebox chill it brings along, millions of Kashmiris ran outside at midnight, huffing and puffing, seeking forgiveness from Almighty. Attributed to a combination of our many grave sins, Modi’s impromptu Pakistan visit and the wrath of God, social media updates came thick and fast. Next morning less than 0.5 per cent of the population was up at fajr for prayers. Over 99 per cent slept it off. 

God, it is expected, shall be merciful in 2016. Hope is the step-brother of faith.

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