To Shahid, the Beloved Witness

Dear Shahid,

The sun illuminates the paper I write on, the sound of scribbling syncs with the hissing of my skin. It is just the sun.

What did it do to you, Shahid? The sun. Did it illuminate your skin, because it never does that to mine; now I have grown layer after layer of cells but I’ve never grown quite used to it.

How are you, Shahid? Are you? It is strange how I am writing to someone I do not know and yet it feels comforting that I’d be the one telling you stories. I always liked telling stories, you know. Making each word more intriguing than the last. But the story I’m about to tell you needs nothing new to spice it up. You know it already, Shahid. You know it to its core and so do I, and so does the one who ignores.

The world is full of paper.

Write to me.

You said that and I followed pursuit. I’m writing now, Shahid. To you. Sit still like you already are while I tell you this story that has a name more beautiful than the story itself.

It’s called Kashmir.

You sit, deep into the night, the blanket over your weak physique, an Iridium tipped pen in your hand as you write. The heavy blanket bends over your neck and you jump. Suddenly you hear a distant sound; but, wait, nothing here is really distant. It is the sound of metal hitting the floor or perhaps a gunshot? One way or the other, the ground is hurt or it’s people. Always the people. Countless murders; of people; of sanity; of happiness; of satisfaction; of living itself.

The homes set ablaze by midnight soldiers. Kashmir is burning.

What would you do, Shahid? Write a line or two? I’m writing to you, am I helping? Did you, like me, see how with each death there is rebirth? Rebirth of courage; of resistance; of hope; of innumerable fists with stones clenched into them. With each murder Shahid, the woes of mothers reach the enemies and pierce their being. They are so scared of us Shahid, it’s almost amusing. Each breath is ceased, each gaze is destined to see their feet, each beat is the rod struck against bearded cheeks, each vibration from throats is muffled with plastic screams.

Papa 2 doesn’t exist anymore Shahid, but the torture never stops. Our torture houses, you know they have been converted into fancy guest houses now. We continue to witness, Shahid. How can one not witness those walls shaking because of the screams ringing inside them, ricocheting with one another and fusing to form an ear piercing moan. How will the innocent get out, Shahid? And even if they do, they'd enter into yet another beautiful and open prison.

My memory keeps getting in the way of your history.

There is nothing to forgive. You won’t forgive me.

I hid my pain even from myself; I revealed my pain only to myself.

There are things that go unnoticed here, Shahid. Unnoticed goes each bending of spine to bow, unnoticed go the words that reach higher than the sky, unnoticed goes the gaze that falls upon the hand that strikes.

I was like the dying patient

who for no reason, smiles.

They made us go blind, Shahid. The world’s first mass blinding! They nurtured us with daggers and fists and no proper food. Then we became thirsty so they made us drink the blood of our own. We went blind and it all went dark. We were forced to scream until our voices left our throats. The darkness made us speak in hushed tones, secrets big and small, to them. Then when they struck us, we realized our mistakes and we killed ourselves trying to save those we took down with us. But no one was saved ,Shahid.

Now mothers look at their sons thinking it is the last time they'd hear their voices. Fathers pat them on the back and tell them never to flinch. The sisters hug them and leave their being on their hearts. Their wives just look at them, their silence speaks volumes of love stories. The children – unaware – play with bullets.

This is your Kashmir, Shahid and yet, it isn’t.

People have grown much used to all the atrocities, yet somehow each tragedy is much haunting than the last. What would you have done, Shahid, if you were in my place? Would you carry on a monotony that is every day of waking up and dying within until you wake up once more? Would you fight against everything with us?

Rizwan, guardian of the gates of our paradise, was butchered, Shahid. Custodial killing, last year! We remember! No one is patrolling our gates now. We are vulnerable. What would you have done, Shahid? Would you have written about him? Would you have explained how the visitors outside his house are greeted with words ‘Justice for Rizwan'? Would you have defined how the minds he has enlightened seek the light he provided? How hundreds of children cannot study because ‘Rizwan Sir' cannot help them anymore? Would you help the world see the solidified tears on the faces of those who knew him and those who didn’t? Our guardian angel was murdered, Shahid, how do we protect the remains? Will you be the Beloved Witness?

If you leave who will prove my cry existed?

Tell me what I was like before I existed.

 You rest somewhere far away as I ask you these questions, as I scream  them out to you along with the billion screams that emerge from my land... Our land. My scream might get muffled amongst all others, hoping it’d reach your ears that can’t hear anymore. But even muffled or unnoticed, it doesn’t die it slits the air in between me and Him.

Your eyes are closed somewhere or aren’t at all. You don’t move because you have nothing to move.

You rest somewhere far. Somewhere far in our hearts.

One day that will be me.

 The moon did not become the sun.

It just fell on the desert

In great sheets, reams

Of silver handmade by me.

The night is my cottage industry now,

The day is my brisk emporium.

The world is full of paper.

 I Write to you.