I have a point, Professor!
SHOULD SWIMMING BE ABANDONED FOR THE FEAR OF DROWNING? GOWHAR GEELANI RESPONDS TO AN ARTICLE BY PROF MUHAMMAD ASLAM PUBLISHED IN GREATER KASHMIR
When angry young Arabs were protesting and some of them even pelting stones at the wrong policies of Egypt's 82-year-old ruler Hosni Mubarak- who'd been at the helm of affairs there for the past three decades- and heads of other authoritarian regimes in the Arab world, many writers and columnists from Kashmir and India seemed busy painting a rosy picture of this new development in West Asia and presented those stone-throwers as the real heroes seeking a change in the status quo. Some of them analyzed the unusual upsurges in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan as movements for change but when it comes to angry young protesters of Kashmir, their analysis takes a complete U-turn.
There is a limit to double-speak and hypocrisy. Mr. Muhammad Aslam, a Kashmiri professor in his recent column titled 'We all deserve a stone to be pelted at...' published in 'Greater Kashmir' on January 29, 2011, argues that Kashmiris are no better than the faithless Victorians who renowned English poet, Mathew Arnold, found struggling and fighting like the "ignorant armies [that] clash by night", and that Philip Larkin, another English poet, denounces for ignoring their present and working for some unknown future. The teacher writes: "The Victorian England suffered from disillusionment and Kashmir, too, faces the same predicament!"
Castigating stone-pelting and Kashmiri stone-throwers, the teacher further adds: "Instead of blaming one group or the other in Kashmir, we should blame ourselves for resorting to mindless means to achieve a very difficult goal. We should know, and understand, how unfortunate this nation has been in not having a good leadership that could guide people to some achievable goal. What have we achieved out of stone-pelting? Has Azadi (freedom) come to us or have UNO Resolutions on Kashmir gained any new momentum?" The writer goes on to make a
point that today 'bijli, sadak, pani and employment' have once again become more important than the emotive freedom slogans raised during the past three summer upsurges. And then, he also quotes some verses of legendary poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, with an apparent aim to lend credence to his arguments.
I do not usually respond to what others write for the simple reason that I respect people's right to have their say and opinion on matters concerning man and society. This time too, I initially thought about not responding to any individual in particular, but changed my mind at the very last minute. I changed my mind because the Professor had quoted Faiz's verses; 'Lekin Ab Zulm Ki Meyaad Kay Din Thode Hain, Ek Zara Sabr; Ki Faryaad Kay Din Thode Hain" out of context. I'm sure the learned Professor would also be aware of these immortal words of Faiz: 'Ai Khaak Nasheeno Uth Baitho Wo Waqt Qareeb aa Pohncha Hai, Jab Takht Girayein Jaayenge; Jab Taj Uchaale Jaayenge, Ab Toot Girainge Zanjeerain Ab Zindaanoun Kee Khair Nahin, Jo Darya Jhoom Kay Uthain Hain; Tinko Say Na Taaley Jaayenge'. For some known and unknown reasons, we in Kashmir love to exploit religion and poetry of Iqbal and Faiz!
I remember a recent conversation I had with our milkman, which I think will aptly describe the point I intend to make. Every year our milkman charges his customers in our locality one rupee more per liter milk while arguing that a simple shave at an average beauty saloon today costs more than twenty rupees when few years back it would cost five to ten rupees only! A good point from milkman's perspective. On my brief visit to home this year, I had a chance to meet our milkman again and enter into a lightweight conversation with him about the inflation and his usual annual hike per liter milk. He repeated the same old dose of shave and saloon. This is what I told him in response: "Today a lot has changed at beauty saloons. There are clean towels, fresh tissue papers, quality shaving lather, good aftershave lotion, antiseptic creams, and above all, the service boys at saloons have learned the art of luring and retaining their customers by offering a simple glass of water or a cup of tea/coffee as part of their innovative hospitality drive. So, I do not mind the inflation in this case. But my dear milkman 'chacha' you continue with the same old trick of mixing water with milk, I see no logic whatsoever behind your usual annual price rise." Our milkman couldn't stop laughing, but made sure that this year too the price per liter milk will go up as usual!
Quality and services at saloons have improved and changed a great deal over the past few years in Kashmir, but what has generally remained unchanged is the behavior of most of our bank employees, government employees,
teachers, academics, milkmen, auto-rickshaw drivers, intellectuals, poets and police! Come summers, most of our teachers and professors, employees and academics lend a tacit support to call for freedom, strike calls, stone-throwing and emotive slogans. The reason: Unrest and Strikes mean no work and all play, no work and easy bucks, no work and handsome salaries. Come winters, the teachers in particular pray for snow and then await an announcement for three-month long winter vacations!
The teacher fraternity in Kashmir seems to have fallen in love with three words, and interestingly enough all of these begin with letter S; Strikes in summer, Snow in winter and Salary in all four seasons! What have we achieved out of stone-pelting? This question raised by the Professor in his write-up is very interesting. It is actually disappointing to see our academics giving an impression of a typical salesman at a provisional store or a grocery shop, who first weighs goods very carefully before handing these over to the customer, then immediately prepares a bill and finally calculates the immediate profit or immediate loss. History tells us that freedom movements
across the globe are not run like provisional stores! Freedom movements and revolutions take decades or even centuries to bear fruit. Developments of few weeks, months and years consume few paragraphs in the history books of nations seeking a change in the existing state of affairs. And it is also quite possible that nothing at all comes out of a struggle. Winning or losing in a battle, and success or failure is part and parcel of any struggle; the result may not always be favorable but the satisfaction of giving hundred percent effort on the field would mean a lot!
A place where the teacher community is insensitive about the tragedy of one of its members and doesn't even bother about the well-being and welfare of its colleagues, what can be expected of angry young boys and girls of Kashmir who opened their eyes in an atmosphere of uncertainty, gloom, tragedy and oppression? At least they're reacting to injustices and trying to do something. They might not be fully aware of the means and modalities to achieve their cherished goal, but nevertheless they're fully aware of what their goal is and what they're seeking. Goals are always difficult to achieve but never impossible. If goals would have been so easy to score or achieve, we
could often have results like 25-0 or 50-1 in soccer and hockey competitions. 'The size of the dog in the fight does not matter, but what matters is the size of the fight in the dog!"
Should countries like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Kenya stop playing cricket and participating in the world cup tournaments for the fear of losing out to stronger teams like Australia, South Africa, India and Pakistan. Slogans, strikes and statements alone do not bring freedom, very true. But, sacrifices do!
P.S: I've nothing personal against the learned professor. I'd very humbly request the learned teacher to read some of the immortal words written by legendary poet, Habib Jalib:
'Zulm Rahe Aur Aman Bhi Ho
Kya Mumkin Hai Tum Hee Kaho
Har Dhadkan Par Khouf Kay Pahrey
Har Aansoun Par Pabandi
Yeh Jeevan Bhi Kya Jeevan Hai
Aag Lagey Iss Jeevan Ko'
(Gowhar Geelani is a Kashmiri journalist working outside India. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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