Home, Oh Sweet Home, How I Yearn for Your Sweet Scent

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I am far away from home, in a distant land. It is not only the distance that prevents immersion of experiences of springtime in Kashmir. It is also the virus, Covid 19, that throws my dreams and yearning to be home.

Wajahat Qazi

I am, as I write in a certain Western country, doing what I want(ed) to do. On the face of it, I should be happy: against many who cannot for an n number of reasons even think of migrating to ‘greener pastures’, I have been and am able to so. But, at some elemental level, I am wanting to be home, especially during these uncertain, Covid 19, defined times. Am I homesick? Yes and no. Yes, I miss my family, my dad, mum, children and spouse but the feeling that defines me is more of nostalgia. It might then be accurate to say that I am nostalgically homesick. Why is this feeling pervading me? (Do you get a prize for guessing where home is. No. Not at all. My home is where my heart is. Yes, it is Kashmir, MY Kashmir)

I want to stand atop one of the corners of Parimal and watch my city prepare for the night. I want to hear the mellifluous voice of the muezzin, beckoning all to prayer, and calling to attention the greatness of God. I then want to go home

It would, I guess, require a psychoanalyst to probe and dig for deeper reasons but as far I know I am nostalgic about the blossoms that would be blooming in the meadows, and gardens of Kashmir, the hues cast by spring on the proud and majestic mountains, and snow clad peaks of MY Kashmir, the mountains that inspire awe and make me feel small against their backdrop, the heaving of Lake Dal, and its changing hues. I want to walk on the pavement of the Boulevard at dusk, with each step of mine in tune with the heaving of Lake Dal,  watch the glittering lights of the Houseboats, with the Shikarawallas flapping their paddles, rowing back home.

Badamwaer, a spring garden in downtown, Srinagar- File pic

I then want to walk up the snaking road to Parimahal, hear the sound of silence interrupted at times by fauna, hear their rustling through the underbrush furtively. I want to stand atop one of the corners of Parimal and watch my city prepare for the night. I want to hear the mellifluous voice of the muezzin, beckoning all to prayer, and calling to attention the greatness of God. I then want to go home, rejuvenated and refreshed, and vivaciously describe and share my sublime experiences with my family. I want to hear my daughters’ laughter, the spark on their faces   as they see their baba , anticipating I would have bought candy for them.

I want to hear the welcome of my Dad whose attention would immediately turn to the evening news, the eternally beautiful face of my mum , glad to see me back and the nagging of my wife.  Oh, how I yearn for all this!

I want to fall asleep under the awesomeness of the mighty Chinar, and be awoken by the mellifluous chirping of birds. And , I want to feel and smell the aroma of the Kashmiri flat bread, dip it in Kehwa and nibble at the softened and moist version. Oh, those mornings of MY Kashmir, sublime and surreal, how I miss you.

But, alas, I cant.

I am far away from home, in a distant land. It is not only the distance that prevents immersion of experiences of springtime in Kashmir. It is also the virus, Covid 19, that throws my dreams and yearning to be home. It is a dangerous time, one where all are bound in and confined to the four walls of their houses, rightly so. But, hey, we can still savor and relish the aura of spring in Kashmir by imagining it, and by reliving our memories and experiences of it. There’s no lock down or quarantine on it. Imagine spring, the Dal, the gardens, the flowers; take yourself beyond time and space and recreate for yourself a spring that is in full bloom. This is what precisely I do, in a distant, foreign land that is not home!

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Wajahat Qazi

Masters with Distinction in International Relations from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Worked as Associate Editor of Kashmir Observer.

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