05 December, 2020

The Wine After Hemlock

Hope comes to the Valley, borne on the warm sunshine of the Indo-Pak thaw

The Wine After Hemlock
Hajira, 78, is the matriarch of a large family in downtown Srinagar. She always admonished children watching TV. It's plain waste of time, she'd tell them. Last week, though, Hajira's eyes were swollen red, glued as she had been to the idiot box. She found the TV images from Islamabad mesmerising. The family's young ribbed her: what are you watching, fashion show? Hajira would poignantly reply, "I've lived in misery. But from what I have seen on TV, I think you could have a secure future."

Hope was the first casualty at the time the guns first began to rattle in the Valley. It has now magically reappeared in Hajira's life, in the homes of thousands who on their TV sets tracked the news as it happened in Islamabad. From saarc ceremonies and grandiloquent speeches to the announcement of an Indo-Pak joint declaration, they didn't miss a moment. Some even cried. Says Mushtaq Ahmad, 48, whose younger brother died in the violence that has racked the Valley for the past 14 years, "Kashmir is the barometer of Indo-Pak relations. And if this barometer indicates that the storm has...


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