This may be an anecdote, a concocted tale to demean the basic character of a Kashmiri or a pun wrapped in mischief, but since the time I heard it I have not been able to undo its effect. It goes like this – “On a hot summer day, a Kashmiri man was sitting on a boulder in an open field, sweating profusely. A foreigner (I was told an Englishman) seeing the condition of the man approached him and asked why he was sweating in the full heat of the sun instead of taking cover under some tree. To which the man seeing a prospect of making something replied – how much will you give me if I take the cover.” This is me, this is we, Kashmiris, and although it hurts, feels painful but it is less so when one admits it, the hypocrites we are and the hypocrites we continue to be. We are the people who would ask for compensation to any advice or suggestion for our one good. At times we also take pride in being so.
I wrote a similar article in 2016, received loads of brickbats in my mailbox. Even at that time, before writing the article, I had to make the difficult choice. Proving that we are hypocrites was not a problem, but whether we should admit it to either correct our course or be shameless, morally corrupt lot has always been a problem. Logically, if we are not hypocrites and admit we are, it won’t make things worse. But if we are hypocrites and keep on hiding behind the crooked wall of deceit, we are going towards the worse, towards total annihilation.
In the present discourse I leave personal, trivial, human interest issues aside, and take up the most significant ones – political. You have to be definitely a hypocrite to question why I think political issues are all important. Look around.
In Kashmir, it has become a tradition to blame New Delhi for all the rot, political garbage that has been accumulating for years. How has it been possible, how did we reach to this advanced stage of a cancerous society without the disease ever being detected? I would be a hypocrite if I say we never knew, because we always did know. We know because we cut the deals, we know because without our help and full support in one form or the other it is not possible. It is simply not possible, like two and two when added will never make five. Don’t point your finger at the point-man yet, because it is a long queue – think of it like the queue at Bakshi Stadium for free Jio SIMs when Kashmir was burning in 2016 and people were not able to even have their breakfast properly. Not possible. Not one man or few, but a lot.
Last time I wrote Kashmiris like denials as much as barbecues, and to add to the aroma I would add, as much as barbecues and 1GB free data every day to launch a social media offensive. It has to be free, we would argue with all our skewed logic that if it’s not free, someone has to pay to redeem us of our miseries, pay for our “liberation” and out “liberties”. Someone, but not us.
Take a moment and think about it – from Sir Walter Lawrence to our Jumma German’s or Ladishah’s satire, we have been painted. Yet, we don’t want to even discuss that part. What we do is we take up and rake up “other things” and “other issues” – the ones that blame everyone else.
Earlier, we thought dialogue was a movie thing. Each time we used to hear the word, ironically as it may seem, our mind would recall pictures of Mithun Charavarty or Shakti Kapoor or Kader Khan…. That is what dialogue meant to us. Today, when someone says dialogue in Kashmir, a montage plays before our eyes. The montage has politicians using it as face-saving exercise, picture of interlocutor who seems lost and unconnected to anything, pictures of Hurriyat leaders with a stern and thoughtful look on their faces, unknown delegations springing from everywhere, and so on. We have changed a lot as one can make it, from Bollywood’s old actors to Pollywood’s (Political theatre) new actors. We don’t know what else to make of it – hold talks, boycott talks, not hold talks temporarily like in India where it is called observe “maun vrat” for some time or in our native expression “Chopa chai ropsenz” – “Silence is of silver make”. What is our golden expression – we don’t know.
I have heard some fellow men say, we are “jangjoos” meaning warriors. Such people believe that all ethnic groups emerging from mountains are warriors. To give it strength there are others who say that societies, ethnic groups who consume non-vegetarian food or are flesh-eaters are aggressive by nature. This kind of hypocrisy fits all situations where we wish to be aggressive, not in real life though. We keep mum before an average cop, we fear traffic policeman so much that we may ram into a barricade than face one, don’t speak a line without “Sir” in any government office from clerk to high ranking one, and so on. On Facebook and Twitter we launch missiles and drop bombs. The moment we are told accounts are being monitored, we simply disappear in thin mist. More about the warrior stuff, those who pretend to be role models have their own children meek and humble, working in some good government offices. We defend these role models with the hypocrisy that every individual is free to choose his own path, but we hate the children and the children of the children of few opportunists, for nothing but family affiliation.
We say we denounce violence, but we also like pictures glorifying some kind of violence. Our being selective exposes the hypocrisy we are wedded to.
We are also subject to an acute disease of “intellectual foolishness”. It is like this – people write, argue and debate about politics. It is not to bring any good to anyone, to change the so-called world, to free the world from sins, liberate us and enlighten people. It is for the simple joy, obviously a foolish one, of proving that we know, that we have a strong argument as if we have spend our life earning it, that we are super heroes like Superman and Batman with our powers in words and lines that can destroy buildings, lift trains and stop bullets.
On NIA raids, when anyone other than Kashmiri accuses Hurriyat we become angry and express it. We blame, like I said, from New Delhi to New York everyone, Trump too. But we can’t bear shutdowns and restrictions and express it often saying “Leaders take money, every leader has amassed wealth only and here we are suffering for no good reason.” We have given ourselves a special certificate – we can blame leaders and skin them – but at the same time we won’t allow anyone else to blame them.
We can be seen running in weird underwear in military recruitment drives and we can be seen running with masked faces chasing military men. We are on top of campaign vehicles, ferried in tippers for an event, and as a mark of respect everywhere where tears drop. We are a lost herd, who become tigers in shopping malls outside.
Until we shed our cloak of hypocrisy, we will not achieve anything or reach anywhere collectively as a society. Individually we are everywhere – in good schools, colleges, professions, government institutions, non-government institutions, political groups, non-political groups, NGOs, human rights groups, party and celebration groups, environmental groups, this shop, that shop, every shop… taking pride in what we have achieved. It will be hypocrisy to say we have not achieved anything because we have – we have achieved being the purest form of hypocrisy.