Shopian: The Forgotten Narrative

Greater Kashmir


“To take part in African revolution, it is not enough to write a revolutionary song; you must fashion the revolution with the people. And if you fashion it with the people, the songs will come by themselves and of themselves”. Sekou Toure, 1959.
Shopian tragedy made every conscious soul shed tears of blood. It made our imagination cry. I present a narrative, though it is not a fictional one you may be aware of.
 Sun was on its routine journey and the salubrious town (hereafter “happyland”) was as usual awfully engaged in a routine affair of life. The minarets of the masjids were resounding with the Asr-Prayer calls. The low-lands on the foothills of Pir Panjal were, as if, sanctified by the Azans. The air was a touch warmer, yet the cool shadows of the chinars were enough to make one sleep with sheer comfort. The native mesmerizing beauty was lending a poetic aura to everything. Such was the tone of happiness that a bird’s chirp far out in the jungles seemed much sweeter than a beautiful song. The running lakes were, de facto, in collaboration with each other creating music as if a flock of fairies voicing the most cherished ballads on the eve of a princess’ wedding. On the borders of the happyland, the rivulet known for its ferocity, was to the contrary, flowing with soft beats. All of this picturesque setting made one feel as if he was the dweller of heaven. Nature alone could answer why it was blossoming on the happyland. Two princesses, having been tempted by such an atmosphere, left the secure walls of their palace en route the nearby gardens through the hilly terrains. Ah! the contrast between the vase-tamed bouquetted palatial premises and the dusty narrow roads outside , but the two princesses, throwing  caution to the winds, set out for a walk despite the prospects of danger. In a manner, reserved to the most chaste and modest, they set forth from their palace and reached far from the human gaze. Tedious terrain soon made them take rest amid the green plains overlooked by the gorgeous mountains. The green velvet grass of the plains was a treat to watch. The princesses having held each other’s hand, a sweet subtle tone began to play in their heart of hearts and they were rejoicing with every passing moment. To the west of the plains was a big chinar shadowing compassionately in its lap a spring of sweet nectar. That spring flowing down through the rocks, the music orchestered by the splashing waters with rock beds was no less sweater than a beautiful song a fairy, accompanied by her fellow friends, would have sung to commemorate a royal event. Slightly away from there, a shepherd was lulling his herd of sheep by playing the flute as a master flautist. The musical amalgam created by the splashing waters and the masterly moves of the shepherd on the flute were making the whole atmosphere a beautiful dream. The princesses could not ascertain if it was real or imagined. The grandeur was being imprisoned by the eyes of imagination and stored in the realms of memory. Suddenly, the princess sighted a beast that was readying itself from the corner of a bush to pounce on her and her elder sister. Being little and innocent, her becoming afraid was natural and human too. The “happyland” was endowed with thick jungles, thus a beast or two could easily be seen everywhere on the roads. These beasts, having a distate for human forms, used to tease, torture and murder them whenever they came their way. Glimpsing around, the two princesses understood that the beast was not alone and together they counted one, two, and three… six, nine…oh! it was a full regiment, “Allah save our honour”, whispered the elder princess who sensing danger took the little princess by her hand towards the palace. Nervously, they trudged back and remembered the guards of the palace who used to lower their gaze while seeing these modest princesses and guarded them no matter what. Sun was almost done after a daylong duty work and was about to set to make way for the night. The setting of the sun and arrival of the night meant “darkness”. The darkness where truth is murdered, where the evil is sugarcoated as legal, where the honour of a mother, a sister, a daughter is looted, where the innocent are slaughtered like cattle, where murders are wrapped with probes! Having crossed the heaven-like green pleasant plains, they sighted two more beasts that, too, were in pursuit of a prey to fulfill their animal desire. In a state of helplessness, the little princesses embraced her elder sister. Nowhere was a human being visible, neither the guards of the palace nor the saviours of their chastity. The layers of darkness were getting intimate leaving everything go black with darkness and finally it occurred to these modest, sweet-smelling brides of humanity that they were alone in the morass of devils and a catastrophe was in the offing. Yes, the desire displayed its beastly fangs as the bunch of wolves sprung upon the two brides of humanity. In a short while the beasts took them to the nearby bushes. Back home in the palace, silence fell. The queen and the princes there were as if the dwellers of a prison. The entire palace, for the first time, wore a gloomy look. The queen, the princes, the guards and the servants searched the whole night every nook and corner of the locality to locate the princesses but empty handed they returned as if the princesses had vanished in the thin air. There in the bushes, the princesses bore the brunt of the desire of the beasts. The first rays of the sun, for the first time, could not make the happyland shine. Alas! The sun could not, with its shining rays melt the night-long gloom of the darkness of yearning, loneliness and loss. The toddler prince of the elder princess could not be lulled to sleep in the palace, because he could not, for the first time, sleep in the lap of his compassionate mother. How could this innocent prince know that his delicate mother had not spared a second to remember the apple of her eyes, having been forced by the beasts to lose her everything; life, honour, chastity, dignity, modesty, everything! The young prince was lamenting a silent prayer “Allah, you made mothers delicate and weak, then why put them at the mercy of beasts!”. The budding intellect of the young prince, too, perhaps needed a lifetime to reveal to him the agonies of being a native of the ‘wounded valley’.
Dawn broke and the search began again. People knew that the culprits were the beasts of the jungle but dared not to go and see, because yearning for a lost thing in the thick jungles was fraught with losing yourself and the yearning too. A two and a half hour search and the bodies of the wounded princesses were found on the edges of the plain where from the princesses had, for the last time, sighted the setting sun. It was first the little princess whose body was found behind a big rock on the northern side of the plain. Her brutalized self was an indication of sheer helplessness that she had been in before being murdered. The silent narrative that emanated from her body said it all which every sorrow-ridden soul was seriously listening to amid tears of blood. On the margins of the green plains was the rivulet where from the unveiled bare body of the elder princess was found, which was no different from that of her younger sister. Thus, started the last journey of the two to the world of eternity. From the dwellers of the royal palaces to the ones in mud houses with thatched roofs, all were choked with sorrow and the sense of loss. Within the hearts, a sea of emotions was brewing up. At last the ‘wounded daughters’ were laid to rest. The dazzling lights of the palace had by now turned dim black in honour of the deceased brides. The gorgeous carpets of the scented rooms of the palace seemed corpse-cloths! Every young prince of the ‘happyland’ was remembering the merciless murder of his sisters and paying tributes to their souls. The whole humanity was shaken to the marrow, remembering the daughters of the nation. Next day the whole nation boiled with rage against the inhuman act and demanding the beasts be stationed far from there as the various outfits of the beasts had rendered the jungle a deathly place. The protesting slogans were making the atmosphere resound with a sentiment of revenge.
Has the protest borne fruit? Who knows? But from a tiny bird to a human being, all knew that the two princesses of the ‘happyland’ did bear the brunt.
Life goes on, but pain stays. It’s one year since. Can we forget?

(Tanveer Habib is a Research Scholar, Department  of Linguistics, Kashmir University. This a translation of an Urdu article written by Sabir Hussain Isaar for Kashmir Uzma)