Saturday, June 25, 2016

Air Full of Prayers

We are all surviving on varied diets of Babribeoul. Of that, more than anything else in this heat, I am sure.

Temperatures are up this Ramadan, and the days are long. So, naturally, tempers are running short. The other day at the bank, a customer was angry at the clerk for calling him "Yaar" (Informal: friend). It was sometime during the first week of Ramadan, and not everyone was adjusting that well.

Ramadan is a low key affair in Kashmir. There are no popular night time markets. There are no fairs. And for the most part, markets are deserted except during the days before Eid. I guess, the sun is keeping the people indoors.

But the early morning Sehris are cool. The young guy in the mosque hastily shouting "Waqt -te- Sahar" three times to officiate the hours before the Sahar Khan with his drums and bugle makes the rounds. There was a time when every mohalla had a Sahar Khan, who was more or less a known figure. Now no one is sure of his identity. He is just a sound a drum beat in the wee hours, a knock on the iron gate - an audible guard of the community's faith.

The new Imam in the mosque is good looking young guy with a neatly trimmed beard and a stirring enunciation of the Quran. And there are a lot of new faces. Many young people are absent. But even with a new Imam and new followers, the prayers are still the same. After each congregation, there is a brief pause. An Aameen hangs in the air as a collective sigh of the people who have agreed, heart broken themselves, with every word the imam has uttered - asking for the well being of all people from Kashmir to Palestine.

Yet, the one thing the imam seldom prays for is hope. If I could ask for one thing tonight - I would ask to be hopeful. For God to take away the leaden despair from our lives and fill us with the faith of  a better tomorrow. Things start looking up, when we do. And tonight, I need that more than anything else.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Twos and Threes

For a brief moment he gathered his thoughts, and then let go. He did not like what he saw.

The stranger had re-emerged. In this yet unknown city, where he tried hard to belong, he had anchored his heart and let his mind sink. His precious idea of life was far from realized, but so was his life. He wasn't dead yet. It was just another year passed. It was just a birthday.

The only two greetings he had had were from an old friend, who had bothered to remind him that he was fast growing old, and Google. He was somehow grateful for that.

Why must it rain today? The sky was overcast, and as he looked out at it, it only seemly to grow darker. Clouds kept moving in, and yet there was no rain. A tattered blue tarpaulin sheet waved aimlessly at him, a black cat moved under a log and white pollen from poplars floated in the air.  

There will not be any celebrations. He felt that he had reached the mountains to find there was no fire, just gusts of cold air. A thunder clapped loudly in the sky and the electricity snapped. For all that had happened to him, he had played with the poorest cards he had. Twos and threes, against aces and kings. Even the occasional Jacks. 

In his room, he thought of something to wish for. Something, he would carry into the new year. Something that would get him through this night. He blew the candle. I need more hope tonight.

And, then it rained.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Twitter Poll 2: Do you support Metered Auto Rickshaws?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Twitter Poll 1: What is your Everyday Breakfast like?

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Of Candles and Stories

The small flame in the Khanqah Mo'alla is always kept burning. The devotees and the shrine caretakers keep pouring oil, so that it keeps burning. Many miles and mountains away in Kishtwar, at the shrine of Hazrat Asraar Paak, there is a flame in a diya too.

Kashmir is not just a ragged, jagged place. It is a ragged, jagged people too. Its a place and people fallen from grace. Of memories filled with darkness. And of dreams we cannot see.

There are bazaars full of dim light, closed down in protest and anger. Despair runs this city like no other. There are schools with high walls. So many children never make it through them alive. Sigh! Education is such a hard business.

There are meadows under which bodies of people disappeared now lie. Quiet and waiting. There are fields in which flowers frightened grow. There are mountains in which bears and armymen patrol.

Less people and more memories, now reside here.

Our shrines and hearts are full of such prayers. And we light candles for hope. And we write, to tell our own stories.