By Aijaz Nazir
03 February, 2013
I logged out of my facebook account early at night on mobile phone. Due to scarcity of electricity in the Valley these days, people hardly use their laptops or computers. In dark and silent nights, still snow slides down from roofs in our neighborhood. Listening to it carefully, it gives a strange feeling and lands me in memories, when I used to sleep in my Dadi's (grandmother) lap.
During those days in rural Kashmir , the routine of every child before sleeping was listening to the stories from their elder ones, mostly the grandparents at their home. Kashmir , being covered with the white blanket in winter season, children were restricted to go outside for playing and jailed inside their homes.
Nowadays, children in home are used to watch television and play indoor games. But before decade or so, there were no such facilities available in rural Kashmir . Electricity used to be unavailable for weeks and months together, even during minor snowfall.
The only source of pleasure and enjoyment those days were grandparents who were coaxed to tell stories to their grand kids. As I also belong to rural life, my grandmother was used to do the same, the stories of fairies were full of fantasy which took me somewhere in an imaginary world where I followed my Daadi and the long chilly nights suddenly used to burst with creativity.
Those enjoyable times came to end when the militancy began in Kashmir and stories of wonderland transformed into the tales of unending inhumane violence. The stories of fairies changed into painful anecdotes of those widows who lost their husbands in the long conflict. Storytellers of Valley, narrating the old fairy tales, forgot them and they themselves became the part of a harrowing tale.
In my early childhood, when militancy started in Kashmir the things went from bad to worse. People of the Valley have seen the gruesome face of both the militants and also security forces. People remained under the slavery of armed forces and were also forced to follow the orders from the militants, side who used to take refuge in villages to escape the bone-chilling cold. Many people were killed both by the security forces and at the hands of militants. I remember the days when adults from our homes were ordered to gather somewhere outside village and then tortured. They were supposed to walk naked and were beaten pitilessly by the forces.
In the chilly season, people were ordered to bring firewood for burning so that the army men could warm themselves. Even children from our village were supposed to do so.
Children were the worst sufferers of this violence, and many students left their studies incomplete.
The 1947 partition of the British India was the biggest tragedy for the inhabitants of the Valley. It tore apart families and uprooted many villagers. It also divided the humanity and spread hatred among two nations. Recent ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir have brought forth the same hatred among both the nations. Several debates have been held but no solution found yet. People of the Valley are in search of tranquility and peace which has eluded them so far. Leaders of both the nations have reiterated their intentions to de-escalate the violence but they are yet to realize the pain tolerated by the people living in the Valley.
The new generation of valley is used to listen to the stories of violence rather than the tales of wonderland and fairies. Generations after generations have seen the brutal face of violence and cruelty. At this stage and in this modern world, children of the Valley in these chilly nights don't think of wonders and fairies anymore, but are stuck to the prolonged conflict which has become a nightmare for its inhabitants.
Aijaz Nazir is the freelance journalist from Kashmir . He is a frequent contributor to various websites, covering current issues of J&K, focusing on social and political nuances. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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