Line up for the songs…

Greater Kashmir

… for the ‘ghazis’ are here again!

The word ‘martyr’ is a much used (and a much abused term!) in context of our local politics. A ‘martyr’, as we all know, is supposed to be someone who while fighting against a perceived oppressor loses his life in the process.

Those that fight and manage to survive as well (in body as well as spirit!) and, what is more, emerge victorious out of the whole thing are known as ‘ghazis’. A rarely used term for sure, because most people either die before achieving their ‘target’ or what is more common either the urge to fight on dies in them or they suddenly find other more lucrative and less fatal pursuits. 

Of course, one more reason for this term not having gained the same degree of circulation might be that the dead usually make for a more solid currency (so far as usage is considered!) whereas the survivors invariably end up in compromise and controversy.

 

All this must not delude the reader into thinking that the word ‘ghazi’ is altogether absent from our vocabulary! Far from that indeed, because it has always formed, and probably still does, an integral part of our wedding songs.

Now weddings songs are traditionally sung to honour a bridegroom and invest his personality with as many supposed attributes as possible, most of them of an impossible nature (the very term for a bridegroom in the colloquial is ‘Maharajah’!). It was in this spirit that a bridegroom when he arrived at the bride’s place would be invariably honoured in wedding songs  by – among  other titles and honorifics – being  welcomed as a ‘ghazi’ from  that ‘land of dreams’ across the border! A great honour indeed, considering that we have always held everything from that place, from common salt to cricket players, in an esteem bordering on worship.  
 

Now if there is something else that is remarkable about our weddings songs it is their great versatility. It is not uncommon for these very songs to be used to welcome any great personage, the great personage invariably being some political leader. After all it seems only just that if we welcome our bridegrooms as ‘maharajahs’, the political leaders (who are undoubtedly the ‘maharajahs’ of modern times!) be welcomed as bridegrooms! And that’s how it is most of the times, the (usually appropriately attired and turbaned!) political leaders are welcomed with garlands and of course the wedding songs sung with a traditional fervour. In all this enthusiasm if there is a mix up sometime well it is only inevitable, something that cannot be helped.

Like there was this famous Indian leader who was once welcomed with these very wedding songs as a ‘Ghazi’ from Pakistan, the leader in question being none other than a one time Prime Minister of India – Mr Morarji Desai. The mix-up was however a very understandable thing considering that this leader of the then Janata party (an ancestor of today’s party of similar name albeit with a ‘B’ prefix!), had got into an alliance with a local party that was, and in fact still is, considered by the masses as the local synonym for the country wherefrom the promised ‘ghazi’ was supposed to come!  (Indeed when you come to think of it, it is not only a particular father and son duo or the father daughter duo that need to blush crimson when alliances with saffron and associated shades are talked about!).

But then of course, alliances change and so do times! Today’s friends may be tomorrow’s foes and vice versa. Nobody knows this better – and bitterly so – than a particular brand of our own leaders who must be suffering from something not unlike lover’s rivalry because their ‘paramours’ of old seem to be in the process of adopting new protégés, and most unlikely ones at that! Fickleness thy name is politics…

 

What about the common man in Kashmir? Well the common Kashmiri is used to being a bystander, a helpless spectator. Or maybe not entirely helpless for at times he does fancy himself as being quite canny and all that but the fact is that of all the bargains that are struck in his name he invariably ends up with a bum deal. What is more the common Kashmiri is not even invited to the wedding even though it is he who might have facilitated it in the first place, albeit unwittingly. At best he might manage to be a part of the crowd of onlookers and if he is lucky manage to grab a fistful of confetti and coins (‘change’) that is lavished upon the ‘bridegroom’. In fact come to think of it, the poor gullible Kashmiri can’t even complain for after all he did vote for ‘change’ didn’t he?! And if you argue that this is not exactly the ‘change’ that he had in mind well in our kind of democracy the ‘voter’ proposes but it the gods that dispose…the ‘gods’ of democracy that is and most of them being false gods at that!

 

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)