21 January, 2021

How Kashmiri Pandits' Loss And Longing For 'Home' Find Expression In Their Literature

How modernity was changing old Kashmiri society was a major literary concern.

Past Sense
Members of the Pandit community praying at the Shatleshwar Bhairav temple in Srinagar
Photograph by Danish Javaid
How Kashmiri Pandits' Loss And Longing For 'Home' Find Expression In Their Literature

The fall of man requires an original sin. What can expulsion from the Garden mean if it is wrought without a cause? The world is either godless, or a surfeit of gods (and godfathers) couldn’t help secure a piece of the earth. Much like the millions transplanted from their soil in the Partition, the predicament of Kashmiri Pandits can only cause perplexion. Unlike the earlier refugees, though, their pain is deepened by hope—the exile is not final, at least notionally, and a return to the promised land is always around the corner, just out of reach. It’s like an infinity mirror that reflects opposites. There is the promise of pain, and the pain of promise. The psychological violence of it all, reduced to the banality of political retorts (‘But what about Kashmiri Pandits?’), can only be confronted through willful amnesia—or by taking life as a memory game. Words, stories, literature, bestowing life and dignity to each little tale, refusing adamantly to allow them to be concoc­ted into anything else, caring for the sacrosanct, battling the...



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