Tributes Pour In As Kashmir’s Sensational Wedding Voice Falls Silent

Abdul Rashid aka Reshma.

Reshma aka Abdul Rashid was the Chandler Bing at every Kashmiri wedding. He enthralled masses by merging amusing facts in a cheerful manner.

By Saima Shakeel

THE celebrated singer whose songs became wedding anthem in Kashmir breathed his last in the wee hours of Sunday at SMHS Hospital.

Abdul Rashid aka Reshma was fighting an excruciating battle with cancer.

People from all walks of life turned up for the funeral of the feted third gender who struggled for his tribe’s societal acceptance and empowerment during his struggling lifetime.

Reshma worked as a full-time tailor and a part-time singer to sustain his family including orphans of his late sibling. His hometown Nawa Kadal wore deserted look over his passage and greatly participated in his final farewell.

The demise of the beloved ballad-maker also triggered a torrent of tributes in Kashmir’s cyberspace.

“He brought a soul to Kashmiri weddings with his songs,” said Showkat Ali, a contractor. “His amusing mannerisms made our festive occasions quite memorable.”

Reshma’s Hay Hay Wesiey and other songs took K-internet by storm as early as in 2017-18.

Following that hit number, the singer became a regular feature in Kashmir weddings as well as video projects.

But beyond that virtual fame, said Afroz Khan, a scholar who attended the singer’s funeral, Reshma greatly struggled in his real life.

“He was finding it hard to earn a decent living due to disparity for third genders in the society,” Khan said. “However, he never played a victim card and handled his reality with grace. His melody became his identity and a response to his traumatized life.”

The real trauma surfaced in the recent past when Reshma was diagnosed with cancer.

The dreadful disease confined him to home and obscured his online fame. The wedding sensation only faded in the post-2019 lockdown years of the valley.

“All of a sudden,” said Salika Hameed, an acquaintance who would visit the singer, “the singing sensation became a forgotten figure. The community support disappeared during his ailing days, though some Samaritans chipped in with some support.”

Even in his ailing state, the singer kept fighting for his community empowerment and equality.

We should get education,” he once said, “and step into different professions which the third gender community is doing elsewhere in the world.”

It was because of this campaign that the third genders start asserting their identity in the community. Their stories not only fared in local press, but also made headlines in global newsrooms lately. Some Kashmiri scribes even won accolades and awards by chronicling their miserable lives.

“I interviewed him years ago for a story and I remember how hospitable he was to me and my colleague,” said Zeenish Imroz, a Kashmiri scribe. “He shared the trauma for being different. We as a society need to be considerate of their emotions. We don’t make them social outcasts.”

However, Reshma’s legacy, argued lecturer Salim Bhat, is his buoyant belief to create a space for third genders in the society.

“He has left behind a great example for his class,” Bhat said. “They may be different in their orientation, but that shouldn’t stop them from excelling in their lives. It’s all about faith that Reshma asserted in his fleeting lifetime.”

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