The mysterious, “leave chance” Mashter-Bai who tried teaching Abayaology to Wali
Published on June 27, 2016

The mysterious, “leave chance” Mashter-Bai who tried teaching Abayaology to Wali

The mysterious, “leave chance” Mashter-Bai who tried teaching Abayaology to Wali

Your Mukhbir-e-Chief was a little-mittle boy once; he is still a little-mittle boy at heart.

A little-mittle boy who often experiences a yawning generation gap with old school mates, and is some-how more comfortable snap-chatting with their kids.

Now, since most of you are all sad, boring, old fogeys; in mind, body and spirit: I guess I need to explain to you what “snap-chat” is all about.

When you snap-chat, the exchanged messages evaporate and disappear into thin air, leaving no digital trace, so nobody can say you said this.

Youngsters “snap-chat” because they want to leave no trace.

Ditto for serious Mukhbirs.

I learnt this technique last year when I went to the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia,for an advanced Mukhbiri course.

The course came handy recently while I was doing Mukhbiri last week,to solve the intriguing matter of the not so reluctant Abayalogist.

A friend’s son, Wali, who studies in the famous Don’t Purdah School (DPS), was updating me live on snap-chat, as the purdah of the lady’s motives was slowly “dropping.”

While Wali was pinging me, and breaking the latest news on Abaya-Gate, my mind rambled back 30 years, (a time when humanity would generally prevail over religion) and I remembered a song that I once sang in my hormonally disturbed youth to a Boba’aa with beautiful, limpid eyes.

This happened very close to the India-Pakistan border, in one of the lanes leading to Tere Bin Mai Suna, right next to, if you remember, the ancient fisher-woman who had permanent tenancy rights on the pavement. 

You remember her, don’t you, the old thug-bai with a desiccated, wrinkled face?

I remember her every wrinkle; every sad wrinkle that bore witness to generations of silly young men, singing silly love songs, for silly young women with half a thrakh (a measure of weight) of Afghan Snow Bewty cream thopoed on their faces.

I remember the fisher-woman’s chunky kane-duurs, oxidized silver ear-rings, with chinar-leaf patterns, weighing down whatever was left of her ears.

One ear lobe pulled down a little more than the other, a little off-balance, like her scamster weighing scale.

I sang the song not because of any seismic activity in my haarate.

(Kashmiri for heart.)

It was a dare.

A “will she slap you, won’t she slap you?” dare, lived every day between me, and my way-ward, capricious friends, some high on life, and some high on dope.

I was high on life (that’s what I’d like you to believe) and so I plunged enthusiastically into a hearty, but some-what off-key rendition of “Rukh Se Jarah Naqab, Utha Do, Mere Huzoor!”

(Remove the veil from your face, my serene lady!)

I sang on bended knees before the startled, limpid-eyed Boba’a: closing my eyes not because that is how “Jumping Jack,” Jeetendra, lip-synced it in the movie, but to brace myself for the tight slap that would invariably follow.

There was no slap.

 After waiting an eternity to experience a stinging thwack, I finally opened one eye and then the other, and what I saw was a lovely lady, smiling encouragingly, with her veil off, with limpid eyes yes, but also with a not so limpid upper lip, with something growing on it that testified to the fact that “Palmolive Da Jawab Nahi,’ a line made famous by Kapil Dev in an advert for shaving cream, in the Doordarshan era.

I narrated this to Wali on snap-chat, and he replied, “ LOL, no no Ajoy’a, she din have a PDJNP (Palmolive Da Jawab Nahi Problem) I Kno coz she tght me bology, infac she nvr wore Abaya to clas xcept las few daze of her asignmnt aftr she got 2 kno tha techer who had gon on leve, was rejoing.”

I couldn’t help telling Wali that his spellings sucked.

The precocious brat shot back, “Yo dude, but nah as bad ass her biology. She 1ce said Darwin wuz wrong n Zakir Naik is rite.Hee Hee

What Wali was trying to tell me was that those who can’t make their mark with biology, tend to create trouble by hiding behind the smoke-screen of Abayaology.

Anyway, the Mashter-Bai has finally gone 9-2-11 (Desi-speak for running away quickly-quickly) from the school, and it seems from newspaper headlines.

 The really sad news is that Wali (who makes awesome Kehwa BTW) is so upset that he wants to go 9-2-11 from Kashmir, as soon as he passes “outa” school.

Wali wants to go 9-2-11 from Kashmir because he is sick and tired, ”Ajoy’aa, I thught u go 2 scol 2 stdy or teach, not 2 pray or wear  relgion on ur sleve, n poison and polariz n pla poltics.”

Why do young people like Wali feel trapped in Kashmir?

I mean not just people living in dens of vice like Raj Bagh, where even divine retribution in the form of floods, has not taught women that they should not say “Hello Ji, how do you do?”to gair marads (men who are neither husband Sahib or Birathar Ji),and they should most certainly not wink surreptitiously at Gaffar'aa, the grocer, when they order “2 kg madrare” which is encrypted-code in Raj Bagh for packing a kg of sugar, and hiding a pack of menthol smokes inside the sugar.

Some of these stupid women even want to jog, when all we want them to do is crawl.

(Please keep calm and say Astaghfirullah.)

I mean any-body who may, or may not live in shirik-prone Raj Bagh, and believes that religion should have no place in politics or education or in the way we live our day to day lives.

The progling (Kashmiri for problem) is that we have surrendered our souls to these thekedaars, these contractors, over the years, and “by mothere,” if you don’t wake up now, and take chatte (responsibility) it will soon be too late.

This mess happened slowly, social engineering is a slow-burn process, but we are slowly but surely going the way of our elder brothers and well-wishers living “Apore,” (“Across”) who are keen as ever to get their hands on the Shah Rag, their Royal vein.

(What a pity, this term was stolen by them from the kalam of Baba Bulleh Shah: the saint must be squirming in his grave, tch tch voshe.)

This obsession drives them, even while all of their other arteries are ruptured beyond repair; bleeding copiously: and making us bleed as well.

You have to be blind not to see this, or completely colour blind, like the sad-sounding Murshid of  Hyderpora.

The whole game is to create “enemies,” and fear of the enemy, to consolidate support for your agenda.

So, in the land of the pure, it began with the Hindus, then once that enemy “evaporated,” it was the turn of Ahmediyas, now they have moved on to massacring Shias, and Ismailis and if you follow the news, even Sufi singers.

Since “apple catches colour by watching other apple” (old Sopore saying), we in Kashmir too seem to have acquired a strange nihilistic green tinge from “Apore” (“across”) which is alien to our Sufi DNA.

It began with the killings and exodus of the Hanguls. Arguably, three thousand or so still remain, including the poor, scared, nervous looking Hangul who was dragged by I’seen Money Lick before video cameras, and made to proclaim that all is well in the Garden of Eden.

After the Hanguls, it was the turn of the Ahmediyas. My friend Polo Mir had to go through the trauma of not being allowed to bury his father in the neighbourhood grave-yard.

Forget the dead; we don’t spare the living; we don’t even spare children.

Polo’s nephew came home crying one day because the neighbor has asked his children not to play with him; his crime was his faith.

(The funny part is that our beloved Maulvi Tee Tee, urf  Thesis Tsoor,alias Thesis Thief, who is scared of his own shadow, threatened to wreck a convention that the Ahmediyas wanted to organize last year. This was indeed very brave of him. But for a change, why doesn’t he threaten to wreck those who killed his father, instead of breaking bread with them at Iftar parties?)

Once one set of “enemies” is eliminated or neutralized, a new set of enemies will be created.

This social engineering is happening slowly. Those who live in Kashmir might not be able to see it, but for someone like me, who gate-crashes once in a while, it’s glaring, and in the face.

Kashmir today, is not the Kashmir I was born in and lived in.

You know who will be the enemy, after all the “enemies” have been vanquished?


Mark my words, finally Kashmir will become a place where the “enemy” will be the “bad Muslim.”

It’s already happening slowly. Today, the Mashter Bai could do a little nautanki (theatre-sheatre) without actually having worn an Abaya, except towards the end of her contract, as Wali told me.

Tomorrow, she might become a hostage in a social prison, where she has no option but to wear one.

Our brave Mujahids tried throwing acid on women to make them cover their heads, in the golden era of terrorism, oops militancy.

In 1990, my beloved Rukhsana Aunty, Rukky Aunty, my daud-mauj (“milk-mother”) gave away all her sarees, all the sarees that were a part of her being.

This was not because she experienced a Hidayat; a divine “instruction.”

It was fear.

What scared the minorities of Kashmir in 1990 were slogans like “Agar Kashmir Mai Rehna ho ga, to Allah-o-Akbar Kehna ho ga.”

(If you want to live in Kashmir, you will have to say Allah-o-Akbar.)

However the secular, liberal Muslims in Kashmir, people like Rukky Aunty, people like you, understood it a bit differently.

Agar Kashmir mai rehna hai, to jaise hum bole, Karna hai.”

(If you want to live in Kashmir, you have to live the way we want you to live.)

The rest is history.

However, what acid-attacks couldn’t achieve, has been slowly achieved through social engineering, and subtle pressure to confirm. You only need to look around you to understand this.

Reflect on this. A bad “Muslim” could also be good human being.

We need to restore the shrinking space for those who don’t confirm to majoritarian ideas about how to live.   

But don’t just think. Do something. Express yourself. Speak up. Write.

Talk. Don’t be scared.

 Don’t “cylinder,” don’t surrender.

Or else, very soon, Wali will pack his bags and leave Kashmir.

This piece is a figment of the writer’s imagination: any resemblance or allusion to any person; living or dead, dishonest or double-dealing, self-serving or opportunistic: is unintentional and unintended.

Ajoy Bhan is a communications consultant based in Delhi. He is a Kashmiri and insists that he is not a Kashmir expert. You can reach him at

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