The irony of history

A riddle of time I could never solve



In my own little world, I am a happy man. To borrow from John Dryden, ‘the joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine. Be fair or foul or rain or shine I have had my hour’.  My happiness comes from the place I was born in, cradled and brought up. It has more to do with resilience and resistance of the people in our part of the city than with its glorious historical past or my personal fortunes.
Many times, I envy myself for being born amongst men of strong spine and robust conscience that refused to bow before the mighty, in Orwellian words, ‘I never lost faith in the rugged sense of their simple patriotism’.    True, like ‘Saleem Sinai’, ‘I was handcuffed to history’. Inside mother’s womb, I had heard deafening sounds of Dakota planes landing at the small airstrip atop the dusty hillock and   pounding nearby villages. My mother had inhaled lots of dust and smoke coming out of the nearby villages bombarded by these planes. I too had received my share of dust and smoke through the umbilical cord. She often told me that when I ‘tumbled forth in the world’ there were some yellow patches on my rubicund face.  These looked like dark clouds on a clear summer blue sky- perhaps the dust and smoke inhaled by her had run through veins into my face.   My story, in fact is the story of a whole generation that has   witnessed the  tumbrel puller, the cart pusher, the buggy driver, the needle worker, the tailor the shoe mender refusing to bow before the authorities and even challenging the mighty. In my childhood   much more than the elite, the minor vendors and shopkeepers constituted bulk of political workers. Moreover, these fought a battle royal against the ‘dominant discourse’ and strengthened the people’s narrative.’ Many times, I would be amazed at the efficiency of the networking of the political organization. Programs and message from these organizations   travelled faster than a bullet through word of mouth from one corner of the city to another- and to…
Every kiosk and shop those days used to be a centre of resistance. Looking back, I am reminded of many pharmacies that were centers of resistance. Sometime back, in this column, I wrote about a chemist shop that was an epicenter of politics in our Mohalla. The image of fair complexioned, clean shaved chemists Ghulam Ahmed Mir wearing black Jinnah cap has got embossed on my mind. His shop was third chemist shop in our Mohalla. Two turbaned Kashmiri Pandits owned the oldest two in the locality.  Mir’s shop is in the evenings used to abuzz with political discussions, many times the discussion would revolve around the debates in the court about Kashmir Conspiracy Case and some or other program broadcast by Azad Kashmir Radio.  Like, all downtown boys, I was also curious to overhear the political gossips inside the shop and later share it with my friends on shop fronts. Mir as I remember those days was an important leader of the Political Conference- an organization that professed accession with Pakistan. His was not only chemist’s shop in our locality that buzzed with political discussion and there were many others. Nevertheless, those owned by political workers were suspected as centers of trouble and propaganda. More than sleuths keeping an eye on them, they were on the watch list of the party in power. In our locality, there were many other chemists, who were active members of the Plebiscite Fronts. Shops of some of these chemists functioned as good as centers of Plebiscite Front. Names of many of these workers   live in my memory to this day.
It came as a surprise to entire Mohalla, when a meek and frail neighbor of ours running a chemist shop just a kilometer away from our Mohalla  was arrested under D.I.R, for alleged subversive activities. He was accused of   being a member of underground organization headed by a long term political leader Ghulam Muhammad   Bhaderwahi (Later on a Cabinet Minister in Sheikh Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah governments).  Along with some chemists, a doctor was also arrested for being part of the group.
Muhammad Yusuf Gilkar, in his own right knowledgeable about  the Plebiscite Front sometime back reminded of    Peerzida Ali Shah of  Zaindar Mohalla, yet another chemist  whose shop used to be hub of political activities during fifties, sixties and early seventies. He was an active member of the Political Conference – then of Plebiscite Front. 
It is irony of history that none of them has made it even to the  footnotes of the contemporary Kashmir history.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST

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