Wading out of old lines, I see Rizwan coming back and hogging headlines over and over again. His reincarnation is not just inadvertent. It is real and remorseful. He re-lives to die. He is born to get killed once more. His life story remains same but his death dons different faces.
You know Rizwan. The one who valiantly wrestled death with daring spirit and profound passion, losing the precious blossoms of his life. Agha Shahid Ali actually discovered Rizwan for us…
"You must have heard Rizwan was killed.
Guardian of the gates of Paradise.
Only eighteen years old…
The homes set ablaze
by the midnight soldiers.
Kashmir is burning…"
Brave Rizwan wished for a secure and sure existence of his vulnerable compatriots. He strived for the identity of his people—those rendered landless in their own land. So many years have flitted away fretfully and frantically since then. Rizwan continues to bleed and die cheap. He is losing the battle slowly and fading out in the rubble of once 'all-inclusive espousal', that was quite demanding and rebellious.
Today, Rizwan sees things fainting and fizzling down, mortally. Over the years, the fears have grown dark and deep. The fear of endings; the fear of beginnings. The fear of dying; the fear of living. Rizwan finds everyone tossed over by fearful anguish, and everyone missing the spirit. The sun has engorged the sky and gobbled it away ruthlessly. Fatal forgetfulness has swept all. The downfall has played its subtle artifice!
Time and again, the scalding tears, the shocking pain prick the soul of Rizwan. Lasting woes rip open the scenes of betrayal before him. He shrieks bitterly, trying to come out of his grave and grab all by neck.
And he does come back! Like a Phoenix. Rising up from the ashes of his innocent sacrifice and naïve sense of nationalism. And, meets the fate that is always more painful than before as his end turns out more tragic every time.
Was Rizwan born to be betrayed? Betrayed through unspeakable treachery; unreasonable breach of trust. By all of us! The colorful leader who always turned out to be a clever collaborator. The flunky fighter who usually lost the message before the fight. The susceptible supporter who became an informer. The vainglorious scholars whose knowledge never proved beneficial. The insubstantial protest-play that lost its bearing silently. The drama of sham nationality that devoured him persistently.
Perhaps, for young Rizwan, it is difficult to seek an answer to the question like "what is a measure to what—human faithfulness to the national or national faithfulness to the human?" Of course, nationality-faithfulness cannot be genuine if human faithfulness does not exist amongst people. That's why, bellicose Rizwan is surprised to see the loyalty of his people to everyone who eventually ends up in disloyalty to all. The bloodbath continues. The saga simmers. Rizwan continues to witness the guiltless stories washed away down the Jhelum. He unendingly watches the grieving mothers and crying sisters. The continuous repression and horror sinks his heart. He sees his young getting badly exploited. Rizwan wonders over the fickle character and personality of those who blemish everything that is a part of his identity.
Dante, in Inferno segment of his trilogy The Divine Comedy, while proceeding to the ninth circle of his allegorical Hell, finds those there who played all kinds of foul with the trust of others. However, in second ring of ninth circle, he specifically sees those who betrayed their country and party, being placed in the lowest and coldest regions of Hell, to be forever frozen up to their heads in a lake of ice with blizzards storming all about them, as a penalty for treason. We all deserve to be punished the same way for we all deceived Rizwan. We put him into the hysteresis of trust and deceit, making his future bleak and bleed. Something quite criminal!
Bottomline: By the way, why should Rizwan die, all the time, for all the people? What sincere and honest promises do we hold to him? From South Kashmir to downtown Srinagar, why should Rizwan be hounded and haunted? The cycle of death for Rizwan has to end. He cannot keep dying for deceitful. He has to go. Go and get buried in the old shredded pages of past. Forever. Along with his misplaced optimism. His mistaken hopes. Never to resurface. Never to return. To the country without a speck of sensibility.