In the present military and political climate of the country, most of you would have guessed the content of this write-up from the title itself, if you did, you’re correct about it in all likeliness. On the other hand, even if you live under a rock and didn’t manage to guess, boo fuckin who, just read and find out, or not.
I’d like to start with a disclaimer that this is no awe-inspiring tale, anecdote or commentary strung together with imperative emotions that will spur you to re-examine fundamental values or perspectives and neither is it a compelling narrative intended to drive a major phase shift in how certain elementary ideas are perceived.
On the contrary, this is but a simple story. Simple story of an abrasive 25 year old who wouldn’t think twice before engaging in derogatory mass outrages. The kind who’d impulsively diss any ideas or opinions that wouldn’t align with his own. The kind who’d thoughtlessly mock a 20 year old daughter of a martyred army-man for the simple reason that he doesn’t share his opinion over a fundamental idea. Yep, precisely that kind. As a matter of fact he did do the latter.
In wake of the military and political unrest in the Kashmir Valley, a message of peace by Gurmehar Kaur, a 20 year old daughter of a Martyred Army personnel had gone viral in February 2017.
“PAKISTAN DID NOT KILL MY DAD, WAR KILLED HIM”. ‘What a bunch of well framed bull-shit, just the perfect bait for trolling, right! This just opens up so many avenues for jokes and trolls!’ Sadly enough, that’s also precisely how our 25 year old “maverick” saw this.
Aight, you probably guessed this one right as well. I was always describing my 25 year old self. If you’re wondering, “why would I ever start with a nuanced derogatory rant about my year younger self”? its because, if not for this backdrop, understanding the perspective and thought process behind the underlying point that I’m trying to make may not hold the same gravitas.
Fast forward to 2 years, 2 years of events, literature, arguments, brainstorming sessions, and experiences that spurred about a major transition. Encapsulating these might require another blog space altogether and that would come at an expense of boring the chakra out of your souls with it’s sheer length. So, in the interest of succinctness, let’s just term this phase as, ummm, Californication (Pfft, such a cliche, right!)
2 years later and I find myself standing in the gallery and gazing at the Concrete Jungle-ish grandiose of Sahara Star, Mumbai. Stay Courtesy: Chaddi buddys generosity to give us this Luxurious stay as we dance, drink, raise a toast, and celebrate the nights away to his marriage festivities. This, precisely.
Bragging rights apart, as I try to shove away the hangover and fatigue induced lethargy (at which, even the copious amounts of masala chai and coffee seem to be failing), the afternoon Sun is beaming with all it’s glory through the transparent roofed ceiling. I flash open the Facebook app on my phone (first of numerous such occasions for the day) and start scrolling. Within moments of navigating through the news feed, festive jubilance of the marriage unanticpatingly evaporates into a somber gloom, both, despite and against the backdrop of an intensely radiating Mumbai Sun.
Its rare that scales of such verve are damped so impulsively, in the blink of an eye. Almost like a train hitting you out of the blue, metaphorically, of course. In quite the literal sense, there were vehicles involved, just not a train.
In an attempt to calibrate with reality, I gather myself and continue reading through. An SUV driven by a JeM terrorist, laden with almost 300 KG worth of explosives rammed into a bus carrying CRPF Personnel on a crucial highway stretch near Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir. 40 of the nations finest are martyred and many more, severely Injured
It’s during instances like these that all rationale, logic, and composure takes a toss. Almost as if a part of your persona instantly perishes to make way for a more restless, impulsive, and cutting version of yourself. It’s in instances like these that NOT wishing absolute harm and destruction upon the orchestrators of the massacre and their associated countrymen becomes a far fetched art of mental regulation, an art that I was definitely failing at in that point in time. Almost as if the caustic 25 year old resurfaced to completely overshadow the transformed 27 year old.
The intercom rang, after acknowledging that I shall be ready on time for the next ceremony (to be brutally honest, those acknowledgements haven’t meant much in the past) and le group was thoroughly aware that this was going to be no different, I promptly hang up. In an attempt to snap away from the melancholy, I switch to Instagram. Mindlessly scrolling through the bulk of stories, stories mostly paying homage to the departed, wasn’t helping. But just as I was about to give up on Instagram as well, one story, one snapshot, that of a tweet by that same account holder, drew a perspective, a perspective that would kick some sense, nope, a whole lot of it at a much required time.
“But I will say it again the solution is not in violence but in dialogue. This is what violence gets us. It’s a circle and it hasn’t stopped. We are right to be angry and it’s important we use this anger to ask for an end to all of this and that end will not come with violence”. Read this once, twice, thrice, or just keep reading it until the holistic rationale behind this one sentence registers with your conscience. Also, Oh the Irony. The same person who provoked an immature and impulsive response 2 years back has now managed to kick some much needed sense at a time when I could use it the most.
But that’s not what you’re probably thinking at the moment. “Why do we have to relate to your thought transformation? Why should we adhere to the transitional arc of your viewpoint based on your relatability to a social activist/ writer?”. Completely fair. So, DON’T!
Do Not see this from my perspective. Merely attempting to do that without deep diving into the plethora of my experiences would be completely unfruitful. Instead, put your own mind to a task of asking simple questions and conducting some basic background study in finding answers to those.
How have the most gruesome and violent wars/ battles/ conflicts culminated their way to a peaceful future? How has a war laden Europe from 4 decades (that’s right, 4 freakin’ decades) of the 20th Century managed to sustain and flourish in peaceful symbiosis today? What was the triggering mechanism for enclosing years of mutiny to a peaceful climax?
Germany’s violent strike backs didn’t end World War 1, their surrender, peace talks, and the consequent signing of the Treaty of Versailles by the Allied Nations did. Twin nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as Adolf Hitler’s violent uprising didn’t conclude World War 2, unconditional surrender of Axis powers followed by Hitler’s suicide did.
History is a great teacher and it has already taught us numerous lessons, we merely need to reinvigorate ourselves with the same. Violent exchanges haven’t had and are unlikely to ever hold the track record for ending deeply rooted conflicts spanning over decades, unless your idea of ending a conflict involves a surrender on the back of a nuclear war. Political strategies, unyielding stands and dialogue, vital coalitions, and economic blows on the other hand are routes favoured at large by history, logic, and persistent common sense.
Even if the task of historic excavation doesn’t interest you, lets clock back to our most recent memory. In the wake of a dastardly attack on the military base at Uri, we lost our collective cool and started demanding instant retaliation. Nothing short of enemies blood would do it. I for one, with my mindless trolls and thoughtless hypothesis asked for it, We asked for it, a bloody revenge. And a bloody revenge we got, troops from the armed forces retaliated with a Surgical Strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). We celebrated bloodshed, sang of valour, courage, and grit of the ‘New India’ jo “ghar me ghusega bhi aur maarega bhi”. If that didn’t ovulate our toxic nationalism enough, masquerading chant’s of ‘How’s the Josh’ as Vicky Kaushal redramatized the surgical strike did the trick. And what did we get for all this, over 40 Martyrs whose lives were accounted for a shallow and thoughtless rebuttal. Over 40 families that will never get to see their loved ones march back into their homes decorated in the same pride with which they once left.
In the wake of this tragedy that has grounded us, it bewilders me to know that the masses still fail to connect the dots and see how violence is nothing but a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle that holds no answers, and, if anything, a vicious cycle that is the question itself.
As for our incessant chants of an all out war, I could spend another day, typing away and demonstrating how shallow and reckless those war cries are. I’d do that without a flinch but this Army wife, Shradha Kushal Ganguly has encompassed those emotions better than I ever could in her rant against these “War Cries” by the keyboard warriors.
To all of you, the readers, I do not wish to persuade y’all to have the same outlook as me on a subject that holds as much emphasis and relevance as this one. I’m merely requesting you to re-examine and re-align your thoughts, based on methodical questioning, reading, research, and excavation of World history that will help us in finding answers to a peaceful tomorrow that we envisage to seek for ourselves.
I kept scratching my head on how to end the write up and just as my creative juices folded, The legend, Mr. Hariharan soulfully serenading Javed saab’s lyrics reverberated in my head. I could’ve tried and tried but couldn’t have summarized it better.
हम अपने अपने खेतो में, गेहूँ की जगह चावल की जगह ये बन्दूके क्यों बोते हैं
जब दोनों ही की गलियों में, कुछ भूखे बच्चे रोते हैं, कुछ भूखे बच्चे रोते हैं
आ खाएं कसम अब जंग नहीं होने पाए
ओर उस दिन का रस्ता देंखें,
जब खिल उठे तेरा भी चमन, जब खिल उठे मेरा भी चमन
तेरा भी वतन मेरा भी वतन, मेरा भी वतन तेरा भी वतन
How’s the Josh, now? Hopefully, equanimous, and steered toward a harmonious tomorrow.
P.S. This is my first blog post. If you liked it, enjoyed it, or were able to take a thing or two out of my heartfelt narrative do not shy in letting the people around you know about it. If you thought this was utter crap and I should save humanity and myself some time by not writing again, feel free to let me know. As the digital platform savvy millennials would say “Like, share and subscribe” 🙂
P.P.S. While I hold a great deal of reverence for Gurmehar’s clarity of thoughts about resolution of the long standing India – Pakistan conflict, I DO NOT endorse her in-state political views in any form or manner, to any extent.