‘We Deserve Campus Life’: Kashmiri Student Pens Pathos of Isolation

A Kashmiri girl studying inside her home during Covid lockdown. KO Photos by Abid Bhat.

Even as Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board Tuesday commenced first recruitment exam after second viral wave, the deadline to end campus deadlock is only extending and making students anxious about their academic life. In this piece, a Kashmir student writes about her life without campus.

By Farzana Bashir

I recently looked into the mirror at length, and saw that I’ve visibly grown sulking and sullen. I’m yet to step out of my teen years and yet, that striking change surprised me. I tried to smile at my reflection, but I couldn’t fake it. I don’t know how to explain this change. Perhaps, my long-drawn home captivity is guilty of charge.

But I wasn’t always like this. In that speculative summer of 2019, I was an ebullient girl busy with my campus life. Then in Class 11, I’m in first year of my college now — but I can’t tell how I graduated from my school to college during this period.

I’ve no idea about the telling transition depriving me of my growing up memories. Should I lament because I’ve no special school memories of last two years? How’s that going to shape up my academic life ahead?

I wonder about it, just like I marvel at my homeland’s different shades of life. And in this process, I’ve become well-versed with the strife vocabulary and everything that now governs the pulse of life in the valley.

When campuses reopened this early year.

Even before Article 370 was read down, students of Kashmir had no good life. Most of us were raised with troubles and tensions. The constant curbs and campus depravity would make us feel some prisoner in our own right. And this affected my expression and engagement with life.

However, life within walls can be cruel. Even if you’ve best study material and facilities available, you tend to miss the classroom ecosystem and the real life interactions. You crave for those small moments of joy and giggles with your classmates, and those face-to-face interactions in actual learning atmosphere.

But now, when most of us sit for those monotonous online classes, they never make you feel the same way. There’s something with this mechanical routine which leaves you annoyed at the end of the day. You become mad and moody. And this, I reckon, is a regressive sign.

Surviving this grueling schedule filled with internet blackouts, communication crises and least physical outings do alter your outlook and make you grow beyond your years.

You may be well-acquainted with your homeland hues, but this coming at the cost of your campus freedom is disturbing.

I can tell how a day felt like an era in these lockdown years. I lived with fear and passed through the sleepless nights. And yet, my ordeal of home captivity, so to speak, is far from over.

A Kashmir kid during home study

After that harrowing political lockdown, the pandemic curbs only made things worse. Fear of getting separated from your loved ones and then seeing them losing their battle of life to an invisible enemy was a chilling experience.

Today, when I eagerly await my campus life, I look back at the times spent since that defining summer. Life felt like a widow’s curse, as the captive time changed the idea of things we once knew. More than anything, these years made me and my class conscious of our circumstances and identity.

As a student, I’ve so many questions to ask and yet I prefer silence over speech. I do fear the fatal consequences. Kashmiri students are very depressed because of the situation in the valley and I believe most of us deserve some normalcy in the form of our campus life.

  •  The writer is a first year college student from Srinagar.

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