Just a month back we were in the midst of the month of fasting. Research has revealed that when a person is fasting (of course this does not apply to the really religious types but to 'amateurs' like you and me!) he fantasizes the most about food. Then again when one knows that the month of fasting will be followed by months of feasting (since the marriage season was following upon the heels of the fasting season!) it is only natural that imaginations might have at times been pretty lurid so far as food is concerned. But alas we all were in for a major disappointment! Curfews and Hartals have dashed all hopes of feasting to the ground. Everyday the newspapers are full of 'Invitation Cancelled' notices.
Can it be mere coincidence that the cancellation notices feature invariably on the pages usually reserved for obituaries! Pretty appropriate place that if you ask me, for what can be more mourned than a platterful of mouthwatering Wazwaan that is missed! Talk of national tragedy, zoom in the cameras and there it is, the Wazwaan that isn't, couldn't be because of the curfew! The authorities have really 'kicked us in the belly' (to translate a popular colloquialism!)!
Ah! All those invitation cards bombing like bad cheques! What a catastrophe! Every day I would scan the 'obituary' pages to see if any of the weddings (or rather the accompanying feasts!) that I have been invited to had been cancelled. Honestly a guy wouldn't scan these pages with more trepidation if he were expecting his own obituary out there!
We might have forgotten many a slight of the past, many an oppression and injustice, why even recently we were in the process of soothing our wounds (real as well as imaginary!) by applying neat little strips of plaster named, no not Johnson and Johnson or Band-aid or whatever, but 'Healing Touch'! But this time things have gone too far! A curfew in the season of weddings (read Wazwaan!)! They say 'discontent of the belly is the most serious of discontents' (another popular colloquialism translated to express the strongly felt local sentiment!). This time the oppression and injustice will not be taken lightly. It will not be forgotten either but remembered for long! Forget about placards, future demonstrations will see us holding these invitation cards with pinned on notifications announcing cancellations of invitations.
It is not that we as a nation lack fortitude. Trust me it is not that. We can withstand any deprivation mind you. Ask any common man, you won't so much as hear a whisper of a complaint about the scarcity of say petrol (Big deal! We will just call for a never-ending hartal and nobody will need any petrol anyway!). No it is not even about the lack of life-saving drugs. In any case there wasn't ever a life-saving drug patented (or even invented for that matter!) that can stop a bullet or lighten the blow of a policeman's well aimed blow when a stick comes crashes onto a bare head! Life-saving drugs aren't much of a protection against that deadly stone either that comes flying out of that alley over there and reduces your eye to gooey pulp! We can hold out…I tell you forever if need be! But depriving us of those platters heaped with all those fat dripping delicacies! Now that is criminal! Unforgivably criminal!
In fact, one can smell a conspiracy in all this provided one sniffs long enough and at the same time firmly puts aside the memory of the delicious smells of Wazwaan! Meat eating, and its most vivid manifestation, Wazwaan, is a part of our national ethos. These curfews that led to cancelled invitations thus translate into an attack on our national identity! It calls for a rally to the UN observers where we could submit signed copies of the cancelled invitation cards instead of memoranda as in the past! Why our grand chefs could lead these rallies waving their ladles and beating their empty vessels. Perhaps by this stratagem we can at last make the world sit up and listen to our plight (for isn't it a well known fact that empty vessels make much sound!). Did somebody talk about the revival of the turbulent nineties?! Well yes there it is! That time you had these very pages full of small time politicians declaring their non-alignment with all and any sort of political parties, some even claiming that they had actually never been members of any political party and that it was just a rumor and somebody trying to defame them and all that. This time the bugle may very well be sounded by these 'invitation cancelled' notices!
Meanwhile we might do well to remember that as per our religion weddings were supposed to be rather austere affairs. After all what is religion if not a great comforter in times of adversity and all that? Why with all his invitations cancelled even the president of our mohalla commitee has turned an ad-hoc preacher! The fellow has been exhorting people that in view of the curfews and hartals we should celebrate our weddings with simplicity in accordance with the Divine law. Readers are however requested not the miss the 'in view of the curfews and hartals' part, for no adversity lasts for ever. These curfews and hartals won't too. Happier, meatier days will be back again.
Didn't I tell you we Kashmiris have indomitable spirits?! Our national ethos remains unaltered. Time and again we have proved that nobody can stop our determined teeth from launching victorious assaults upon meat tortured into a myriad of shapes. And nobody of course can match our digestive powers. Didn't we gulp down two decades of turmoil without even so much as a belch by way of a remembrance of what all we went through!