Nothing can be said about history; torn shoes, a comb with broken teeth, a pail with a detached handle, a box of heirloom ornaments, a one-legged rocking chair, charred remains of a picture book, knick-knacks – flotsam and jetsam of ordinary lives pocketed in the ruins which will then be carefully examined, dusted and displayed in museums or auctioned to wealthy men. To whom did they belong? Who will return to claim these?
The spasmodic cough of father’s old scooter bellowing, “Leave me leaning by the Banyan tree, under its shade I shall remain for years hence.”
Shoot those who dare rise against you, those who raise their voices to resist you. Shoot those who speak not in your mother tongue. Shoot those who chant a different prayer than yours. Shoot them, their wives, their mothers, their children. Shoot them all.
The evening runs its course. What remains of the plump boys loitering in the playground are slender silhouettes that look as uneven cutouts from a cardboard sheet; contours of everyday objects further tapering off from their earlier shapes to a stream of black.
When the children of Kashmir return home and the language of love is buried deep in the depths of every man’s memory, they will have to conjure every syllable their mothers sang that once put them to sleep, and build Kashmir again, not with bricks & sand, not with the tongues of another land, but with the love that a man has for all.