Sitting back home for interminable two months bored me now. Even though I did three novels, some short stories and a chain of columns, but now I yearned for classwork- for I study English Literature Master’s Course in University of Kashmir. Although, classes in KU aren’t incredibly exceptional, yet classwork, no matter what, is irreplaceable.
“Thank God, vacations are over.” I mumbled to myself while packing my stuff to leave for hostel. Relieved. But a little tense at the same time because I had my electives the next day (2nd & 3rd March) and I hadn’t studied a single page.
“Who studies syllabus at home? Atleast, hostlers don’t.” I concluded packing with this youthful assuring thought.
My electives went well. Not great. Not bad either. I studied late, but hard for them. Tomorrow was a Sunday and it felt soothingly welcome. A break after the exams, who else than a student understands the liberation it brings? For some time, as if by error in fate, things seemed to fall harmoniously in their places. For some time the location was out of mind. But the lurking uncertainity of The Paradise was yet to wring some new blood. Casual, usual tragedy.
“Finally!” I said aloud, thinking about the coming Monday as I woke up late the next day. I didn’t care I missed my breakfast. I didn’t even remember it. I spent my whole day playing, relaxing and watching AIB on Hotstar. The day slipped past swift, as happens in happiness.
It was past ten in the night. The dinner was long done with and I was with my seniors who were discussing their upcoming SET exams when suddenly a message popped up in one of my senior’s phone. He opened it and read; “militant, three youth killed in Shopian shooting.” We all looked at one another while the brother on whose phone the message popped went through the details of the news. We didn’t much comment on it. This happens. This is usual. We had made our comments of condemnation long before, when other similar things happened. When the tragedies were new and heart-wrenching. When the killings were reckoned killings and when there was no outright categorisation of civilians as militants or so called “On Ground Workers (OGWs)“.
Later there was a small protest and sloganeering in the campus demading probe and subsequent justice. That’s what we have always done; broken but demanding, killed but demanding, widowed but demanding, orphaned but demanding, prisoned and charged but demanding… and yet despite all this, resilient and demanding.
I was in my bed, thinking and tossing about — and that’s what one does when one can’t find sleep. And believe me, in here where I live, a sensitive soul doesn’t even hope to find sleep. No lullabies, music or other tricks work. When one sleeps it’s because his or her body gives up on staying awake. The eye lids close of fatigue. Sleep that way is only a successor of suffering—- I was thinking about the Two Sides of a Coin of Tragedy. I didn’t think about going to classes the next day. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I was sad, but I put the thought on hold. Thinking about tommorow when tonight was in jeopardy felt like sinning.
Kashmir is a decades long conflict and scrutinizing the way things are happening, it appears to remain a perennial one. Hence, a tragedy. One side of this tragedy are the immediate repercussions of the events that happen out of course of law. The unlawful killings, followed by impunity and lack of admittance of crime, therefore, no justice, this leads to mass demonstrations, consequence of what is hardhandedness of government leading to more deaths and injuries. The cycle goes on… The result of this is indelible pain and suffering that goes down in history for ever and which is relived by posterity everytime they hear or read it. The other side of this tragedy is economic deterioration and brain-drain. According to Economic Survey 2016 of J&K government the state suffered a loss of Rs 16,000 crores to the summer unrest of 2016. Kashmir economy is in a state of “macroeconomic volatility” owing to these shutdowns. But the essential point to take down from this is that people are ready to own this loss. Economic prosperity over justice is taken a bad business. And yes, economic progress is redeemable. But the loss in education sector is irretrievable. It leaves behind a generation of ruined students having a tenebrous and certainly uncertain future before them. It also retards economic progression by preventing the creation of potential redeemers; i.e, well educated people, because everything in society depends on the education of its people.
But here is the puzzle this entire situation poses to a Kashmiri. It’s a puzzle with no immediate solution but greatly consuming. The rebels represent sentiment of the masses and are heroes in the sight of Kashmiris. Their death grieves them. Any Kashmiri chooses not to remain silent on civilian killings or any sort of human rights violation, so protests. But Kashmiris also understand the essentiality of education. With the number of working school days already lower than 150 per annum the condition is staggeringly worrisome. A lot of parents send their children outside the valley, which is a temporary solution, but not all can avail this solution due to a lot of practical reasons; and as I said, temporary. This gets students coerced into a dilemma of dropping the either. But education without conscience is a cancerous paradox. Both are related and abandoning one will render meaninglessness to other. As long the conflict remains, the puzzle remains, and so does the hope of joining classes on time.