"Yellow matter custard, green slop pie,
All mixed together with a dead cow’s eye,
Roll it in a fat, flat bread, wear a black Boba’a hood
Then wash it all down with a cup of warm cow-blood.”
A slaughtered nursery rhyme
I must confess; I am only half in exile.
After having exotic Kunigeich Parathas at Qazigund, served by Hasan Waza, the Sous Chef of Raj Bhawan, who travelled as a part of my entourage; we crossed the Banihal tunnel, in a fleet of armoured S-Class Mercs, with heaters even under the seats, to keep our butts warm: provided so thoughtfully by that vile man, JaggaMacMohan.
But, the moment I crossed the tunnel, a part of me died.
Mystically, the dead half left my body with a whoosh, became a Djinn, an invisible ghost who flew back down from Banihal, past poplar lined roads, and back to my home in Hyderpora.
My body had been transported out of Kashmir, but my spirit returned that very day.
I began to live on the willow tree, next to my home, and began to hurl silent sighs (vosh) in the direction of anyone who passed by.
When my home was set on fire, I tried to vosh as hard as I could, hoping that my sighs would extinguish the flames.
I tried to scream Kana Mana Too in the ears of the man who was setting my home on fire, to scare him, but no sound came out.
While I am a “Chalak” (clever) Djinn, I’m also, in keeping with my heritage and tradition, a peace loving, non-violent ghost, incapable of offering any resistance.
Nobody is scared of Ajoy’a, the Djinn.
But when I was a little-mittle teenager, I once scared the micky out of a hatte-katte Convent Boba’a who overtook me on her cycle and sneered at me thereafter: by chasing her relentlessly on my olive green steed.
I did this to redeem the honour of my school.
The chase began from Jawahar Nagar , with my olive green supersonic cycle flying over all the potholes of Ikhrajpura, and through the lanes of Raj Bagh.
She made a hatte-katte complaint the next day to our tutor. I was asked if I had any credible explanation to offer, before a dose of Soye Shalak (stinging nettle) was administered to me.
I quoted Khalil Gibran in my defense; “Some think I wink at them when I shut my eyes to avoid their sight.”
Thirty two years later, after tearing my feeble reputation to little-mittle shreds, the lady actually had the cheek to send me a friend request on FaceBook , with a hatte-katte reconciliatory message.
“Ajoy’a, if you were to chase me today, on your olive green cycle, with your silly striped school tie tied over your sloppy grey trousers, above your right foot, so your pants don’t snare in the cycle’s chain; your school blazer ‘s arms tied carelessly around your neck, flying in the wind like Superman’s cape; who knows I might stop.”
Who knows, I might stop. Hmmm. Vosh. Deep long vosh.
I was overwhelmed as I began to type my reply on my ancient Pentium I laptop, you know the one with the K letter missing from the keyboard, you know the one that madly misses the missing K letter on the key board.
“My dearest hatte-katte Boba’a Jaan! Alas! I am no longer in a position to chase you on the olive green steed with its polished chrome rims. It melted in the fire that smoked all my little-mittle dreams. I also happen to be a Djinn now. So at best, I can get entangled in your hair, but that would subvert your cozy existence.”
My hatte-katte Boba’a ended the conversation with the Kashmiri version of LOL; she wrote MAA, which a linguist friend (who resides on a political pendulum, hoping it will sway in the right direction ) tells me is Modus Asan Asan, or “ I’m dying ,laughing , laughing.”
After I began life as a Djinn, I began to fly around my Srinagar, sleeping often on trees: willow trees, and Chinar trees.
I began to sneak in to people’s homes, overhearing conversations, witnessing conspiracies and killings, and filing away information, like I was a one-man, sleeper-cell of history.
(I still do.)
Every time a phone number prefixed with +92 would flash on Chutti Uncle’s phone, I would try to scream “hosh, hosh” in his ears, but either he could not hear me, or was deaf to reason.
On 23rd March, 1990, when the poet of the khalk, Abdul Sattar Ranjoor, was killed, I was there. I tried to scream Kana Mana Too in the ears of the killers, but I could not scare them.
I tried to scream Kana Mana Too in the ears of those who water-boarded innocents in Papa II, I tried to scream “Hosh, this man is innocent, you should catch that man, the one who roams freely on a stolen black Yamaha RX100 mobike, “ but nobody could listen.
I am a passive Djinn, the only time I can get scary is when I prowl FaceBook with my nom de guerre, Koshur Batt’e Djinn , which roughly translated, means “Kashmiri rice-eating Djinn.”
This is my fearsome Avatar, this is when I slay demons and battle Jehadis, and do the Tandava like Lord Shiva, before retiring for the night, usually taking refuge on a Chinar in the Convent compound after screaming a silent Kana Mana Too in the ears of the Nepali Guard, Bahadur, who I’m told is almost as old as the ancient Chinar tree.
I’m a Djinn who might not be able to scare anyone, but in turn I am not scared by anything. I’ve seen it all. Nothing shocks me. I’m fully immunized.
Most certainly not pictures of a cow being slaughtered in Anantnag in public view, followed people having orgies on social-media about this “honour killing,” writing “Ameen” and such like.
Not so long ago, one of my new-found FaceBook friend put up a post that said. “Dear friends one of my favorite songs from the land of sufi s kashmir. Originally sung by Raj begum. like n share,”
I heard the song, and I was deeply moved by my sensitive Sufi friend’s taste in music.
The other day, my young “Sufi” friend goes on to make a self-revealing “Sufi” post.
“Isn't Milking a cow an act of sexual harassment and an act of robbery too? how dare you Indians do this to someone you call your mother.?”
Nothing surprises me because I have seen worse.
On the subject of slaughter, your Djinn was there when Girija Tickoo was slaughtered on the 25th of June, Nineteen Hundred and Ninety. Her body was found neatly sawed in to two pieces, with a rusty carpenter’s saw, by the roadside in Bandipora.
I fainted after screaming Kana Mana Too endlessly in to the ears of the men who were taking turns to rape Girija Ji.
I am sure this was needed to usher in Azaadi, and also to assure the minorities that there is indeed a very special place for them in the valley.
Vanderbilt Boba’s cousin, Javed, alias Jav Philasfer called me yesterday, and told me this cow-show tamasha is a manifestation of the brutalization of Kashmiri society.
This morning,I got a mail from Jav Philasfer.
“The Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH), forbade the killing of animals except for food. An-Nasa’i and Ibn Habban narrated that the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH), said :
“Whoever kills (even) a little bird unnecessarily, it will complain to God on the Day of Resurrection and say, ‘My Lord, so and so killed me in vain and did not kill me for a useful purpose” (Hadith in An-Nasa’i and Ibn Habban)
Tch. Tch. Deep Vosh.
We can eat what we like, but do we have to make a gory, uncivilized, political spectacle of it. We could just agitate to change the law instead.
Food is not just about religion. It is also about our traditions. It is not in the Kashmiri Muslim or Kashmiri Pandit tradition to eat either beef or pork, but if we want to, no issues, but do we have to dance or raise slogans around dying, groaning animals like barbarians?
Jav Philasferfeels that this madness also has something to do with the loss of plurality in the valley.
He told me the ironic pre-1989 story of Hasan Pujj, the butcher who knew by heart, all the days that the minority community would not eat meat.
Hasan Pujj remembered the vegetarian days in the Hindu almanac, he remembered when it would be Aatham, the 8th day of the lunar month, he remembered Puniyam, or the full moon night. Hasan remembered Mavas, or the moonless night.
Hasan Pujj remembered these days by heart, and on these days, he would hang a worn-out muslin curtain at the entrance to his shop, out of deference for the feelings of the sizable Pandit community, who lived in Habba Kadal.
I’m sure Hasan Pujj would begin to turn restlessly in his grave today, if some one whispered in his ear about the public slaying of a cow in Anantnag, and the spectacle that followed on social-media.
He wouldn’t know which way to turn, if I told him that there is a young man in Anantnag, a handsome naya naya, upstart Wahabi and FaceBook Jehadi, who makes his poor mother cry every year, by insisting that she has to cook meat in the month when people abstain from eating meat, to honour the great Saint, Baba Hyder Reshi, our beloved Reshi Maloo.
How can a generation that is impervious to the tears of their mothers, be expected to be moved by the groans of an animal?
Ditto for our tent-clad Asiya Boba’a, our cute-mute, chotu-motu Lady With The Blood Stained Shraakh: blood dripping from the knife in her hand, and from the righteous speech on her lips.
After slaughtering the cause of the emancipation of women, after slaughtering the right of every woman to dress the way she wants to, Asiya Boba’a has now turned her attention to liberating cows.
Folks! Ajoy’a,the Djinn tried his best.
If you look carefully at the video, in between the groans of the dying cow, you can hear my feeble voice, trying to scare Asiya’a, our benign Boba’a, with Kana Manna Too.
You know, some people are addicted to smell of blood, and the screams and groans of those they have killed.
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 email@example.com