A Reporter’s Diary: ‘I see Kashmir in Mumbai’

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‘We all listen to whatever our national media shows it to us. But have we ever tried to hear any Kashmiri about their plight of living?’

Jyotsna Bharti

I live in one of the swish areas in Mumbai — the dream city now fighting to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

Ever since the pandemic enforced a lockdown, the vibrant city with ivory towers and big enterprises looks lifeless. The mundane routine which we once knew has gone into hibernation.

I’m told it’s a long haul!

Already 22 days have passed, since I’ve been locked in my apartment, watching the pervasive desolation hushing and haunting the city, which apparently never slept before.

For a change, I hear birds chirping, while I stand near window sipping my hot chai expecting for a warm company from it. I watch out for hours at late nights. I see these long buildings standing just dead. Alarming ambulances rumbling on abandoned roads further surge the sense of siege.

Author’s window view from her Mumbai Apartment

This is a new pulse of life, driven by a shortage of groceries, life resources, and sanitisers. What once was a promising living has now become a grim survival.

This desolation drifts me to the faraway land where people are struggling to survive.

I think about Kashmir, which I was planning to visit this spring, the season of tulips, the almond blossom and a promise of life after dead winter.

As I watch the struggle from my window these days, I imagine myself a girl caught in curbs in mountains which Kashmiris call their home. Her daily struggle leaves me dazed, as I perceive myself a prisoner in my own home now.

I think of these iron grills in my window as some prison partition, coming in the way of my liberty.

Then I think of girls of my age in the valley, their aspirations, their dreams, their dreads.

Kashmiri Girls on Window

How does it feel to live such a life?

Most of us didn’t have any idea, until, as they say, chickens come home to roost.

In this hopeless hour, I see Kashmir in Mumbai.

I’m reminded of Appa’s promise to visit Dal Lake this year. This was my major motivation, my big boost.

But now, as life has taken an unexpected turn, I immersed in the beautiful thought of Kashmir’s ecstasy, only to think of that landlocked region cursed with perennial lockdown.

Behind the serene face, I see the searing struggle for life.

It’s the place where lies the dystopian world.

Post-abrogation of its semiautonomous status last summer, Kashmiris find themselves in a drawn-out lockdown. The curbs initially came with cable TV suspension, internet blockade and communication clampdown.

And as the Curfewed Kashmir became information blackhole, people outside found it difficult to contact with their loved ones in their haunted homeland.

For months, they had no idea, if their kin were alive or dead!

Is it still beautiful to you? Because that’s how the life of a Kashmiri looks like!

While the entire country has the privilege of entertaining themselves by the various medium of communications, Kashmir is still suffering from the last summer’s high-speed internet kill switch.

Despite repeated pleas, even pitched by those who served the Indian cause in Kashmir, the valley is still grappling with slow-internet.

Medics doubling as Covid-19 combatants, students given mass promotion and working class anxious of their jobs are now waiting for the Indian apex court’s direction on the restoration of 4G internet in Kashmir.

Denial of these basic human rights has only deepened the gulf on ground. With the result, the childhood at the most beautiful place isn’t beautiful at all; it’s full of terror and scar.

Clearly, people in Kashmir are in pain.

And to overcome the bludgeoning anxiety, they’ve been suggested to revive traditional ‘Daraev kin Darbar’, wherein people would talk through windows to maintain sanity in the state. This comes when the social spaces are already under curbs.

We all listen to whatever our national media shows it to us. But have we ever tried to hear any Kashmiri about their plight of living?

The place known for its rich culture and dazzling countenance has now turned into deserted land filled with barricades and concertina wires. And as the witness of daily brutality and violence, people in ‘paradise’ are suffocating today.

Is this what “our integral part” deserve? Are we still going to crib about our national lockdown?

  • Jyotsna Bharti is an intern with Kashmir Observer. She has previously worked with Republic TV.

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Jyotsna Bharti

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