I was there, your little-mittle Djinn, your Mukhbir-e-Chief. I have seen it all. I am so overwhelmed by what all I know, that I need to drink some Djinn-and-tonic before I write.
I was there when the inimitable Bakshi Sahib, Khalid-e-Kashmir, issued an “appointment letter” after tearing open an empty cigarette pack and writing an order on it.
The letter simply said that Chaman Lal Gagroo, alias lion-hearted mouse, is hereby appointed as Police Sub-inspector because he is a hatta-katta, rough-tough lad, also because his father Dina Nath Gagroo (“papa-mouse”) served in the Peace Brigade at the time of the Pakistani tribal invasion.
Dina Nath Gagroo would hold his wooden toy gun with a fake, ferocious look on his kind, handsome face, and patrol the streets of Srinagar, hollering “Haml aver Khabardaar, Hum Kashmiri hain Tayaar.”
“Oh aggressor beware, we Kashmirs are ready to take you on!”
Ajoy’a the Djinn was there when Dina Nath Gagroo, hollered ‘Haml avar Khabardaar,’ in late 1947, standing at Habba Kadal for the first time, after drinking the mythical Gagger-sharab, alcohol fermented in a vat, and offered first in a khosa, a brass glass, to a mouse, the vahana, the mount of Lord Ganesha, the God of auspicious beginnings, and some say, happy endings.
I flew along with the sound waves generated by Dina Nath’s slogan, at the speed and of sound, and found myself in the camp of the feared leader of the Lashkar, Pir Sahab of Manki Sharief, Syed Mohammad Aminul Hassnat.
The terrifying slogan broke the sound barrier as it pierced Pir Sahib’s tent, and toppled a lantern; the kerosene fell on the pants of Pir Sahib’s military advisor, Colonel Bilal Tunda, who was lighting a cigar.
In a divinely ordained moment, the Colonel dropped the lit matchstick on his camouflage pants, and attained Shahadat, became a martyr, and when he went to Jannat, a Hourie assured him, “Honey, rest assured, with me, your pants will always be on fire.”
Dina Nath Gagroo, however didn’t just have a squeaky name, and a loud voice. He was in love with Kashmir, and he was no mouse.
Ajoy’a the Djinn was there when Dina Nath heard the news that his dear cousin Comrade Som Nath Beera, a by-now forgotten communist party worker, a “challak, makkar Kaffir,”and a member of the Peace Brigade, who had volunteered to go to Doda and restore peace, had been killed brutally at a place called Regi Nallah, a place that apparently divides Bhadarwah and Doda, and someday will unite all those of us who believe that humanity is the greatest religion.
Dina Nath voshed and voshed and voshed and then calmly said, “Som’e-tothe died the way he wanted to live; he wanted to live with and die for all Kashmiris.”
Ajoy’a the Djinn was there when Hitta Fart’ade killed Dina Nath Gagroo’s grand-son in Habba Kadal in 1990.
“Dishkaoao. Ha Ha Ha. Die Kafir die. Dishkyo. Ha Ha Ha. Die Kafir Die.”
Dina Nath Gagroo had played Amto Kamtyo with his grandson Pintu Ji, he had taught him Kashmir’s National Anthem, Hamlavar Khabardaar.
When Pintu Ji turned 4, Dina Nath gave him the wooden gun that he had once carried, and then hung proudly in the bhaitak, the living room of his home in Zaindaar Mohalla.
Pintu Ji would race to the attic, the breye-kani; the cat’s attic, wave the wooden gun, and fight the tribal marauders.
Pintu Ji would imagine that a jute sack filled with rice was the feared Mohammad Aminul Hassnat, and he had run out of ammo. Then he would hit the sack with his forehead.
Kashmiris have strong foreheads, our martial arts traditions consist primarily of one move, the “tholle,” hitting the opponents head with the forehead; to shock, stun and awe.
God gave us strong foreheads because destiny had many “tholles,” many ferocious hits on the fore-head lined up for us.
Dina Nath Gagroo would laugh at Pintu Ji’s antics. He had no idea that a day will come when Pintu Ji would get a “tholle” on his head, a mortal blow, from a bullet fired by Hitta Fart’ade, our Hero, and the able executor of the agenda of our Super-hero, the honourable, I-Seen Money-lick, who it is rumoured, has developed a strange obsessive, compulsive disorder.
I-seen Money-lick has clearly seen too much, he gets up in the middle of the night with a nightmare: that he has blood on his hands.
He then washes his hands with scented soap and sanitizers purchased in Amrika, but the smell of blood, alas, doesn’t go away.
It still lingers in his hands, along with the smell of new-found money, confusing him, driving him up the wall, forcing him to hide under a table in Toddy way Hotel’s bar; where he tries unsuccessfully, to lick his hands clean, after ordering Djinn-and-tonic.
You can’t even blame HittaFart’ade for what he did, or for that matter, I-seen Money-lick.
How can you expect uneducated, gun-toting louts to know that many “Chalak, Makkar Kafirs” they killed were from families that were ready to die for a secular Kashmir, and actually died for the slogan of Naya Kashmir: unsung, forgotten, and what’s tragic; even demonized.
Ajoy’a the Djinn was there when Comrade Pushkar Nath Zaroo of the Peace Brigade volunteered, and marched fearlessly to Handwara after 194, with his wooden toy gun, to halt the march of the invaders, to safe-guard the future of Kashmir’s children, and the honour of our mothers and sisters.
He tied the “sharak,” the knife, his mother has used to tear open raw walnuts and feed him milky kernels, with a rope, a little-mittle “suttley,” on his toy gun, and charged fearlessly in to the advancing, blood-thirsty invaders, screaming Haml awar Khabardaar, but before he could say Hum Kashmiri Hain Tayaar, his body was ripped in to little-mittle shreds by the bullets of our elder brothers.
Vosh. A big Djinn-vosh.
I am just a little-mittle Djinn. But people like Som Nath Beera and Pushkar Nath Zaroo are the Dyevs, the Super-Djinns of Kashmir.
Alas forgotten, probably even by their great-grand children, who are struggling in a queue to get a bucket of water, or a Government hand-out of 5 kilos of rice and half a tomato, in some wretched camp in Jammu-- oblivious to their heroic heritage; as you read this, and as I write this, on my Jannati Dada Jaan’s ancient Corona typewriter, whose K letter went missing, while it was being transported in a truck, from it’s place of honour in our home in Kashmir, it’s crewel-work cover forgotten, in the rush to escape the bullets of terrorists, and embrace death by snake-bite, in the heat and dust of Jambu.
How can we blame these lumpens, when we have forgotten even our Devye-Ahram, the highest in the Djinn and Dyevv hierarchy, a man called Maqbool Sherwani, who gave his life, so we could live?
A man whose only feeble memory is the fading paint on a vandalized road sign in Srinagar, defaced by a love-struck idiot who has scribbled, “Sajid lyaves Tabu,” with charcoal, in his quest for eternal “lyave.”
How can we blame the likes of Hitta Fart’ade or I-seen Money-lick, when even seemingly educated people, men of letters like our resident poet laureate, Ajeeb Khayal, write odious articles justifying the evaporation of minorities from Kashmir.
Interesting a few days after his crude communal rant, Ajeeb Khayal returns his Nobel Prize for Literature because India has become unsafe for minorities.
Tch, tch Ajeeb Khayal Ji.Vosh.
A poet uttering such words, is heart breaking.
Even if the poet is both: wordly and worldly-wise.
Ajeeb Khayal Ji, my dear Sir Ji, sometimes I wonder how Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad would react if he came to know that a young man who claims he began life by reciting Rumi, ended up exposing himself by writing putrid sectarian prose.
Sir Ji, Ajoy’a the Djinn is quite confident that Bakshi Sahib would want you to go revisit Rumi, and ruminate.
Where we started the story of a brand new, Naya Kashmir, with a brand-new red proletarian flag, and how we all drenched that red flag in blood is Wajib-ul rumination.
I must confess; Ajoy’a the Djinn is forgetful, he does a rambling kind of Mukhbiri, sometimes forgetting what he had started out to tell you. But any serious Djinn-Mukhbir worth his precious Djinn-and-tonic will never come to the point, because that would be so boring, also that would make his Daayen-harem or the witches who party with him in the Djinn-Bar at Pari Mahal lose interest in him, and wonder if he is a real Djinnious or some little-mittle sideyDjiin; it would be a real pity if they chose to lure a lesser Djinn to get entangled in their lustrous hair.
Oh yes, that brings me back to the memory of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. I was there when the Medical College in Srinagar was inaugurated.
I still remember the aroma of the kanti kababs that were served, and how I gobbled some with my greedy-needy Djinn-mouth, wiping my little-mittle invisible hands on the wollen jacket of the College principal.
A few days later, in the presence of your omni-present Mukhbir ,your kanti-kabab Djinn; the Principal Sahib walks in to Bakshi Sahib’s office, with fading marks of my Djinn-hand on his lovely tweed jacket. He looks crestfallen.
I hear the Principal tell Bakshi Sahib that he can’t train the students, because there are no dead bodies available, so classes in dissection can’t be held.
I look at Bakshi Sahib for a response, wondering how he can find a solution to this strange problem.
Ghulam Mohammad Bakshi chuckles, “Arre Principal Sahib, just make sure that the first batch of doctors pass out. Rest assured, there will be no dearth of dead bodies after that.”
I laughed a silent Djinn-laugh at Bakshi Sahib’s joke. Little did Bakshi Sahib know that we would in the times to come set up profitable, efficient factories that would churn out dead bodies, and all kind of dead, with neat labels.
“So little-mittle trainee doctor Sahib, who would you like to dissect today? A little-mittle school boy, perhaps. Or maybe a martyr, hmmm smell the divine incense wafting sky-wards. We have a Mukhbir’s body as well, but I can’t guarantee that he will not spy on you. Or do you want a martyr who was killed by a martyr-to-be? Or you want to slice through a dead policeman’s head? How about a Panchayat chap, they come cheap these days. And yes women too, we need to produce gynecologists as well, Modus Asaan Assan, Sir ji, I am dying laughing laughing!”
Rashid’a Scalpel giggled at his own morbid jokes, like he was drunk, and then he began to cry, like he was really drunk.
Rashid’a Scalpel is one of the few human beings who can have a conversation with Ajoy’a the Djinn. That’s because he is half-Djiin and half human. Nooo Baba-Jaan, Rashid’a is not a doctor, you think doctors in Kashmir have time for dead bodies?
Rashid’a Scalpel’s claim to fame lies buried under heaps of dead bodies. He has done over 35,000 post-mortems in Kashmir.
Rashid’a sniffs ether, then makes an incision, and then looks at me, “Ajoy’a, this mother died of a broken heart.”
I pour Rashid’s Scalpel a stiff Djinn-and-tonic and we drink ourselves to death, our backs propped against the blood streaked walls of his work-place, with dead bodies scattered around.
We wonder what the first principal of the medical college, and indeed, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad would say.
We laugh hysterically, and then Rashida’s stops and begins to sob, and in between, he stops to say, “Ajoy’a, that mother died of heartbreak.”
All stories don’t have happy endings, life can be a daed kanger, a Kangri filled with the embers of sorrow, but in life, the game isn’t over, till the last ball is played.
So how do you want to play this game? Do we want to remain silent, or you think it is time to wake up, and speak up?
Are we going to let 200 hoodlums stop 15000 of us, from running towards a better future?
The road will be long and tiring. But this is the real Marathon for Kashmir. Stay silent and they will declare themselves as the winners.
Hold a “private election” in your heart and decide. Rashid’e Scalpel is tired. He wants to retire.
NOTE: The contents are the figment of a Djinn's imagination, and any resemblance to the living or dead, humans or Djinns, is not intentional.
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