Monthly Archives: February 2019

Scenes from the 3 Decades of Kashmiri Pandits

(3 Decades of Kps)

Year1989-90

Dulari-The Seventy year old Matriarch , was standing in the middle of her Garden. Not a leaf of Grass was left in her frost-bitten-lawn. It was the peak of winter. She gave a cursory look around and strolled slowly , occasionally touching some of the dried up plants . She stopped near the Rose shrub and began to inspect the marigold plant, she has sown last summer just adjacent to it.

‘The marigold plant has dried up completely , so has this The Rose Bush’, She thought gloomily.

‘These winters eat up everything. I really wish the summers come soon.’ She looked upwards to the Post –Noon- Sun . Even though it was a bright shimmering sunny day, Nevertheless, The Sun too seemed to shiver.

After inspecting her Garden, she goes inside. It is around 1 Pm and time for Lunch. She washes her hands and sits in her Extended Kitchen- That basically serves as a Dining area for her family. She calls her daughter-in-law Phoolaji.

‘Hayayi Phoolaji, Battae sharei’ (Phoolaji serve the lunch)

It was the end of the year 1989.The Terrorists had become Blatantly Brazen after the kidnapping of Rubaiyya Syed. The Muslim neighbors too in hushed tones could be heard talking about, soon-to-get ‘Azadi’ . The Blanket curfew in the valley had forced all the family members of Dulari to stay indoors. Her family as well as Kashmiri Pandits neighbors too talked about the prevailing political circumstances that was filled with uncertainty. Yet, No one had imagined that a majority of Kashmiri Pandits will have to flee Kashmir within a month!

The Macabre dance of Death unleashed by the AK-47 laden Terrorists on KP’s had started and were targeting minority Hindus with impunity,

And then came the night of 19 Jan 1990-That changed forever the history of Kashmiri Pandits! The Kp’s were fleeing Kashmir in hordes. Dulari was no exception. She too left Kashmir as did her neighbors and relatives.
Future looks uncertain in Kashmir.

Year-2000-01

Dulari is now surrounded by new neighbors of Pan-India ethnicity in Faridabad . All these years, she has managed to speak her own version of Hindi. She uses a lot of Gesticulations in her conversations with neighbours as Kashmiri words pops up now and then unintentionally from her Mouth.

Dulari along with her Family had shifted to Faridabad in late 1995. Her elder Son has bought a House in Faridabad. It is built on a 100 sq yard plot. The front as well as the back yard is cemented . She is Old but still hard working and has lost no love for Gardening. She has secured and fenced a small patch of land may be 100 sq feet bordering the front side of her house. She religiously looks after that small garden. She has also sown with love the famous ‘Haak’ (collard greens) of Kashmiris in that lawn.

It is the month of March. She is inspecting her kitchen garden. Not much is there. Just one gaze is enough to tell about the health of her green friends. She opens the make-Shift gate of her garden. She squats near the marigold Plant and touches the flower.
‘Dear, If we would have been in Kashmir, I would have surrounded you with many more flowers and attended you better’. She was silently conveying her feelings to the flower.

‘Soon the marigold will be gone and so will be Haakh’ . These Harsh summers don’t spare anything’. She whispered .

‘Alas ! Kashmir was so beautiful!’ she sighed.

She does not have the same vigor, She once had in Kashmir. She feels the heat of the March Sun and slowly walks inside .

‘Hayyeyi Phoolaji Batta shaer’ (serve the lunch) – She orders her.

It has been 10 years now since KPs were forced into exile. Future in Kashmir still holds uncertain for them. She and her family are amongst the Lucky ones, who didn’t had to live in the dirty, unhygienic tattered tents of the refugee Camps-where still many of the community members were languishing .

Year-2018-19

Phoolaji-Her Daughter-in-law has become the new Matriarch since Dularis Death 12 years back.They now live in an apartment in Mumbai. After the death of her Mother-in-law; Phoolaji too has developed some love for Gardening.

In the balcony of her Flat, she has sown some saplings of Marigold as well as ‘Tulasi’ (Basil). Whenever, she waters or de-weeds the plants, The face of Dulari flashes in front of her mind. By planting and looking after the potted-Plants, she gets a strange sense of satisfaction. It is as if the soul of Dulari is watching her and is bestowing her with blessings.

She is standing in her Balcony. The Black clouds are moving fast as if they are on a mission! Needless to say, The infamous monsoons of the Mumbai have already arrived . Now and then the sky is roaring and it seems , it is going to pour too. To save the plants from being flooded by the downpours; Phoolaji shifts the pots to that area of the balcony, where they will be safe and Dry.

As soon as she had shifted the pots to a safer Dry place, The rains start.

‘Madamji, please come inside. The lunch is ready.’ Her maid shouts from the Kitchen.

She walks slowly towards the Dining area of her Flat and sits on the dining chair. She is served food by her maid. Today her maid has made ‘Haakh’. She is about to eat, when the familiar thought crosses her mind, yet once again.

‘The taste of Haakh was divine at Kashmir ! It would have been much more fun and happiness, had we been living at Kashmir !

But, Alas! Mahadev(God) had different plans. The medley of thoughts and emotions was disturbing somewhere in her Heart and Mind.

Soon after, the aroma of the food diverted her mind and brought her to her present at Mumbai. She takes the morsel of rice mixed with Haakh .

She can not forget that It has been 29 years and The situation for KPs in the valley has not changed a bit yet. To forget about the past, she switches on the TV , browses the channels to watch her favourite serial. While browsing, her eye catches the fleeting headline in one of the News channels. She stops at that Channel. The focus of the news is Kashmir again. The newsreader announces about the clashes between the protestors and the security forces. She again changes the channel and finally stops at a “Bhakti” (Devotional) channel.

Phoolaji is carrying forward the legacy,Customs and rituals left behind by her Late Mother-in-law.She has immortalised ‘Dulari’ by keeping her Photograph at the same pedestal as that of Devis and Devtaas in their small in-house temple.In the mornings and sometimes in the evenings too , incense sticks or Dhoop is gyrated reverentially around her photo too; along with the idols and photos of all major Devis and Devtaas to invoke their blessings!

The Show of life Continues …..