A bellyful of rice

Rice has always been an underlying element to kindle or doze off the fires in Kashmir.
A bellyful of rice
Representational Pic

Rice has always been an underlying element to kindle or doze off the fires in Kashmir. It has been used to flare up revolutions in the past and has been equally used to gag the sloganeering mouths by the opponents. The intensity of many a rebellion is gauged by the extent of rice the tummies are crammed with. As long as bellies are stuffed with grains all belches of uprisings are stifled. Kashmir has lost its potential to cater to the increasing demand of rice due to the unabated conversion of the agriculture land. But known is the fact that the tin and plastic boxes are in great demand to hoard the grains for months together. And this precarious supply and demand variance coupled with uncertainties to connect with the outside world in the event of weather disturbances compound the worries leading to sensitivity of sentiments towards this commodity.   

Sir John, Jani had heard from his elders that Kashmiris don't think with their brains, they are the exceptional ones in the world to have the ability to pull up thoughts from their stomachs. Many a time he tried to learn the art but ended up in delivering strange sounds through his mouth. These sounds, in the form of his stupid sermons, too often landed him in trouble even, at times, to public thrashing. During floods, Jani once standing in the queue to fetch his free quota of ration, recognized a face of an old friend whom he knew was living at a place not affected with flood. Jani, without looking right and left started with his verbal diarrhea only to find hot firepots thumping on his bald head. He later, while sitting on the edge of a footpath recovering from the ordeal, realized that the whole queue was occupied by those who were not affected with flood and those who were actually affected were busy in salvaging whatever they could from the left out grime and muck, least thinking about the free ration.

This time over, Jani was asked by his mother to visit the ration depot for his monthly allocated ration. Jani was surprised to find no tossing of heads with each other and clothes being pulled from behind as usual. The depot manager was sitting alone in the corner behind his dented tin-made trunk. On seeing Jani, he opened the trunk, pulled out a sparkling garland, and rushed to welcome Jani. Jani, on receiving such reception from a person who would not even slip a scornful stare to an insignificant person like him, with clenched teeth, muttered. Sir, can I have our quota of ration for this month. The manager shove him to the knotted mat and started with something that nobody was ready to listen.  Look, there are big families living over here, the size ranging from 7 to 15 members. With the earlier dispensation they would not get their proper share. Rather than distributing on consolidated share basis they will be getting ration as per actual souls living in the family. To explain it further, in your case you were getting  35 kgs but with new laws in vogue you will be getting just 10 kgs as per your family strength of two, i.e, you and your mother. While your neighbor who has a family strength of 9, will be getting 45 kgs instead of earlier quota of 35 kgs. 

For Jani, that he was sacrificing his share to the benefit of his neighbors, it was enough a reason to assimilate this statistics. Contented, while he was leaving from the depot with his 10 kgs of rice, he was caught by a mob protesting against the new law. You traitor, how could you accept this attack on our bellies. For all these days we have brought the city to stand still, blocked roads, shouted slogans, burnt effigies, given our blood and sweat to the agitation and people like you spoil our cause. Jani was beaten to pulp, he was made to eat the raw grains he was carrying. He, by now, understood the meaning of 'thinking with stomach'. Jani was made to lead the agitation and was asked to shout the slogan which he diligently did with his 'rice crammed mouth', Ham kya chahatay, 'baati yead'. 

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