I remember the fire; the fire was something that happened only in the cartoons when a mouse lit a bomb, or the cat lit the rocket, and each would place it at the end of each other’s tail. Then they would skyrocket to space and turn into stars.
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?
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.
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.