Exploding head, rescued by pencil

Yusuf tore the scribbled pages and set them on fire
"I couldn’t explain more than that, even as I felt like a weak plant, which cannot even stand the slightest of winds."
"I couldn’t explain more than that, even as I felt like a weak plant, which cannot even stand the slightest of winds."Mapixel [Creative Commons]

It was 2:30 am on a Chillae Kalan night, he felt his head might explode like that house in a gunfight. Before this, on forty-seven instances, he had grabbed his black diary, but left it empty, like alleys of the old city on a restricted day.

However, 13-year-old Yusuf this time, with his snow like hands shivering, his eyes burning like sun on a hot summer day, picked the diary up, held a pencil between his numbed fingers and scribbled:

“I Love America more than any other country in the world and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

At that very moment, pencil had saved Yusuf’s distended head from erupting even as lines by James Baldwin commenced the diary writing.

But why was Yusuf’s head about to explode?

As he took a deep breath, on top of the page, he wrote:



Asalamualaikum, hope you’re well while I also hope that you understand the first word, because only a handful of my batchmates greet each other with it. Unlike the majority of students who say ‘Hi’/‘Hello’.

I too belonged to the latter section until my friend, Abdul, from the old city taught me it. At home, he says his family speaks in Kashmiri language. I have asked him to teach me that too.

We never spoke Koshur at our home and the other day, I asked my parents about it, they said, “The speech didn’t look right on us.” They were unable to explain the reason, I was perplexed!

In 2032, we were abroad for winter vacations. It was my first visit, however, I was enrolled for coaching till our stay. I was puzzled! Back home, I wasn't even allowed to go out alone and get csoachwoar (sort of Kashmiri doughnut).

Anyway, I made friends there and we would often have conversations after our classes. They once asked me about my homeland, its history, religion of people and the language we spoke.

Like my parents, I was unable to explain, however, I hated to look muddled and unresolved.

And as I quietly first whispered it to myself, I stammered, and said: “Kashmir, Development, Peace...ksh….Koshur. God bless Abdul, if it wasn’t him, never would I have been able to utter the last word.

I couldn’t explain more than that, even as I felt like a weak plant, which cannot even stand the slightest of winds.

That day if they’d asked me about smartphone games and youtube videos, I could have detailed it. Because that was all I did after school while mom ordered pizza and other “good” food for me.

Kids there answered almost every question regarding them and their home but it was different back here. It was like even the elders were looking for answers.

Theek Chuwa? Halaatha Kya? Waen Kya koruk? Dapaan Bandh Karan? Network Chuwa? Paawar Chuwa? Khabar Guzre Kaesc?

People had started to draw lines, between the type of cars they drove, the houses, localities they lived in, the schools their kids were in, their professions–this one was ironic, people who cleaned the region were looked upon as inferiors and how can we forget language, when the people here had even compartmentalised fellow humans on basis of language. The native speakers had been ghettoised.

Not many people could reason here, while many refrained from talking. And even if some wanted to talk, in what language they would? And perhaps they decided to do it in their mother tongue, who would understand them?

People were enshrouding something, it appeared they wanted to escape. They seemed to hate reality as they obliterated the roots.

Inside deserted buildings, abandoned homes, and lonely playgrounds; Insulin syringes, cigarette packets, leftover fires, chocolate wrappers covered the floor.

Confusion. Death. Escapism. ‘Boi Goi Kalle’.

Everyone seemed to pretend. Traders pretended their product was perfect and inexpensive. Politicians pretended to be guardians. Poor pretended to be rich and rich pretended to be lords. Authorities pretended to be heroes. Robots pretended to be humans!.

And in the middle of all this pretending, a child whose right it was to know the truth and live with it, was deprived and pushed to the corner, with a smartphone and processed food in his lap.

He knew nothing, and eventually would turn to hate his parents for making him ‘defector’. Because sooner or later, he too will face reality and experience truth, for it is inevitable that truth overcomes falsehood.

Since my return, I've been living a parallel life. Fast food and smartphones are history now. I’m more into paper, books, newspapers, and other journals.

I don’t accompany my parents to those huge buildings with many floors for different purposes. No grudges with building owners. However, I was kept in the amusement section while my parents fulfilled their material desires.

Instead, I take a walk somewhere around. I’m bewildered, there are hundreds if not thousands of questions coming to my mind. But who to ask?

In the age where machines are doing almost everything for humans while the latter think themselves as successful. I’m bound to quote Arundhati Roy, who said “Most of the successful species in the world are known to self-destruct and maybe we are on the verge of that if we don’t watch out.”

But what about the kid, who, in his age of asking questions was left unattended, unheard, and confused? In our part of the world, babies were shatteringly unfortunate. They were even deprived of lullabies!

Notwithstanding the prevailing situation, what if a child suddenly asks you, “Why do we try to be people who in 1846 sold us, and our hopes, our dreams, and aspirations for mere 75 Lakh Rs (Nanakshahi)?

If the sale was done today on Amazon, I’m sure Kashmiri people would have wanted a share in their accounts, because “HALAAT CHE KHARRAB”

"Their fields, their crops, their streams

Even the peasant in the vale,

They sold, they sold all alas,

How cheap was the Sale."

-Allama Iqbal

By not being aware of what their kids consume and produce on the Internet, parents’ only obligation seems to pay the bills. Bills for the fast food, for the gadgets, for threads, for plane tickets and college admissions….. And many more.

Parents who had the duty of Luqman but abandoned it. On the day of final questioning, these kids may point to their parents and say “They were the one who put this thing in our hands and deprived us of knowledge.”

As I end by writing tomorrow’s date on the next page, my hands shake, like that winter when the bridge shook and with it shook the wailing mountains.

He put the pencil down and looked calm, his eyes looked normal too, but after a sigh of relief, he stared at his notes like he was a patient of Scopophobia.

Yusuf tore the scribbled pages and set them on fire. For if he hadn’t, he might have died from Hypothermia that night.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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