03 March, 2021

A Mind Of Winter

Twenty-five years into exile, a Pandit selects memory props to remind him like shrapnel pain of the day his family looked its last upon Kashmir Valley

A Mind Of Winter
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I often think of a man I saw dead 30 years ago in Srinagar on the road outside the Silk Factory. The man had died after being hit by a truck; he lay face down, and the pieces of meat he was carrying in a newspaper sheet lay strewn all over him. The bus from which I saw him stopped for a moment and I remember trying to read the crumpled and stained newspaper. I wanted to read the printed matter so that it could serve as a prop to remember the dead man.

I always needed a prop to remember things by. Six years after I saw that dead man, I was in a taxi, huddled with my parents, who like every Kashmiri Pandit at that time were desperate to see the light on the other end of the Jawahar tunnel. While crossing south Kashmir, we came across a man pushing a wheelbarrow on the road; he looked at us in disgust, pumped his fist in the air, and shouted: “Maryu, Batav, maryu! (Die, you Pandits, die!).” The man’s  wheelbarrow and his raised fist are among the many props reminding me of my exile.

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