What Do I Do?

Did you hear that sound? Like something fell off from somewhere? That drop of water falling onto an uncleaned dish in the sink? Hear those steps? Is somebody coming over?

This flutter in the heart! Oh, God!… What is happening! Don’t we say gut feelings are never wrong? Then what calamity is about to befall me? What is it that could go wrong? I should probably do nothing today, nothing at all, and stay here. Staying indoors would make sure nothing can befall me. And nobody can know where I am if I just stay in bed the whole day.

But even when I am in bed I just can’t sleep. Sleep could have helped. I just could be without any reality, without any realization of reality.  But then, this damn sleep, I dunno where it went. I am just so sleepless. As if I have been sleeping for years!

What happened to my tired body? Did it not yearn so earnestly for sleep? For some rest? Some respite for the heavy schedule and the constant busyness? Where did all that tiredness-induced sleep go? Why just could I not sleep and get respite from my talkative brain for some time? Why can’t my brain just leave me alone?

Oh, some dog is barking somewhere! Did it see a satan or an angel? Or is it a mere stranger that is making them bark like this? What if an army of satans is coming to take us over? Would we all sin? All indulging in stuff they have been resisting for a while now? Things that they have been denying themselves?

Why is there this sudden thunder? Where did clouds come from? Is it raining? Would it rain? The dogs must have left to find shelter. There is no mourning, no barking anymore. Did God intervene? I can hear the rain now. Slight pitter-patter. Rahmah as it is seen. Did He ward off all the satans? Did he protect humanity?

But my heart is still fluttering. If the satan has been warded off, then why this fluttering? This anxiety?

Why can’t I just fall asleep?

And this fluttering, why won’t it end. Just why? Now it is even escalating. I suddenly find my heart sinking. As if something just went wrong. As if I felt some devastating loss. As if I am the only mourner and all of the grief is meant for me. And I am sinking deeper in this every minute. Every passing second. I can feel the blood drain out of my hands, my limbs. As if my core needed all the resources around. Yet I have no idea of what is causing me this agony, this pain. Why am I being tormented like this? What sin had I done to call upon myself such strange feelings?

The feeling of being trapped. Of being isolated.

Sylvia Plath. Wasn’t it she who wrote about a glass container that stood over her head, constantly, and separated her from everyone else. Maybe from her own self too. Bell Jar. She called it bell jar. Is it this jar hanging over my head too? Is it this glass that is segregating me from everyone? Preventing me from communicating, from connecting, from forming relationships, friendships? From anything human?

This sinking just won’t stop. I want to scream. Scream all this pain out. This strange feeling. This helplessness. This urge to have someone and the desire to be alone. This need of talking to someone, having someone to listen to me and yet having nobody. Hating all those people who keep asking what happened? What do I tell them what happened? Nothing happened, did it? It is just me, and my brain talking to me. Driving me crazy every passing second. Getting onto my nerves. Making me anxious. What do I do?

I just want to run away from all of this. All of this pain. People keep asking what it is and I have nothing to tell them. I just want to run away to some isolated, some uninhabited place. And scream. Scream till my lungs are numb. Till no voice can come out anymore. And with those screams, scream out all this helplessness too. This helplessness of not having any words. Of not being able to express what happened to me or what is it that I am going through.

Would those screams, that loss of energy help me? And even if it does, where should I go? I even don’t know a place that is isolated enough. What do I do?

I have no place to be myself.

Maybe I should get over this urge of finding a place well-suited for me. Maybe I can never fit in.

Maybe I should just stop thinking and sleep!

 

Floods

Have you ever yearned for rain!
Oh this draught, this dry weather is killing.
Some relief is overdue.

And when it rains, incessantly 
Like someone mourning a loss
We wonder, when would it stop.
Oh! Why wouldn’t it?

The flash floods it caused!

Granted

I had yearned someday
Away from crowd
The noise, blasting horns

Away from the sweltering heat
The makeshift hell
The stillness hanging in the air

I had yearned a starry night
An open air
Company

And here I land
In a cold vale
Pouring, cleansing me!

Unspeakable

I sit on a glass table
some coffee, music

Plethora of thoughts,
a hurricane

I sit, with a pen, open
ready to pen down

a story, a poem, or…
some kind of solace

All I could see, in front –
a blank sheet stained with tears!

Of Here and There

Apart from the stark contrast of culture and lack of mountains, one thing was very apparent at the new place. Wherever you look, however far you try to search there is no army man standing with  a loaded gun. This seemed so abnormal. Back home an army man could be found every 100 metres or even less but here…  She was clueless as to why. That was the first time she realised her homeland was a conflict zone. And that it was captive and yearning. All the people had a single dream. Freedom!

Adjusting to Indian society and culture was difficult. People usually asked very difficult and strange questions. Is it safe there? Have you seen terrorists? Does it blast every day? And they go on and on. That was when she knew the partial news coverage Indian media provided. For them it was merely a piece of land. For her? Kashmir! It was difficult to give them answers and bring forth the reality of Kashmir. Not because of the complexity of the conflict but because of the adamant nature of her questioners. They knew only one thing. “Mera Bharat Mahaan”. And they would not listen to a word spoken against India. Or to something that would paint India in bad light. They could not bring themselves to think or realise that India could be wrong and atrocious too.

Amongst all this a news took everyone like a storm. A guy had turned a militant and was now attacking army convoys. Army and CRPF were being attacked. It seemed as if armed struggle had started afresh. Following the news of blasts and killings she came to know about the person doing all this. (A name that means “bearer of good news”). This person claimed responsibility of all the recent attacks on the Indian army and forces. He also sent a strong message to counterparts in India, “We will earn our freedom soon.”

(the name). It was stuck in her mind. She could not understand why. Later, videos and pictures of the guy, who was by now being hailed as a hero, emerged. And she got her answer. She knew this guy. Not only did she recognise him, she even had memories of him.

She vividly remembered the smile that was always on display on (his name)’s face. How he displayed empathy with everyone. His kindness was an example in the whole school. Even teachers adored him and said the level of humanity he had was exceptional. He could not harm even a fly. Today the same guy was hurling grenades at humans. Unimaginable.

(his name) had lost his father very early in his life. Bought up by his mother alone, he knew her hardships and made sure he caused her no additional headaches. He was the calmest child of his age. His siblings were an elder sister who helped run the household with her mother and a twin. He always thought he was bestowed with the best mother and sister anyone could have. And his twin was like his own shadow. Inseparable.

It was late November. The sky was dark with black clouds and light was low even during the day. It had been snowing all night and it seemed to continue the whole day. Despite being the first snow of the season there was a strange lull in the atmosphere. As if something was utterly wrong somewhere and yet nothing could be done.  That day his brother was untraceable. He searched whole of their place but he was nowhere to be seen. Mother told him that he had moved out to buy some snacks. The nearest shop was a mile away. So (his name) started walking towards the shop. All the way long streets were strangely desolate. And the army numbers were higher than usual. Sensing trouble, he hurried. As he reached the shop, he met a strange sight. The snow was no more white. It was red. Even snow had withdrawn support. On the molten red part of the snow lay his brother. Shot dead.

For months together he did not talk to anyone. Neither did he attend school. He could hardly sleep. And when he did, he woke up shouting and crying. Doctors said he was suffering from PTSD. PTSD is not so uncommon in Kashmir. Almost half of the population suffers from it. Almost everyone has seen dead bodies, heard gun shots and grenades go off. People have dreams of identification parades and gun shots. And who held those killer guns? Army.

For a long time (his name) was depressed and could not resume his daily life. Probably he could not accept the loss. How could anyone ever anticipate losing a twin. It was after a year that he could finally face the reality and resume his life. It was difficult but he did all he could. Sometimes he would break down in middle of activities. Sometimes in midst of a crowd. That seemed to be the most difficult part of his life. Only if we knew better.

It was his higher secondary school exams. The ones parents say are the way to an easy life (the most common lie though). He had studied hard and thought he could ace the exams. It was the physics exam day. He was glad for he had attempted whole of the paper satisfactorily. But as he reached home that day, a new pain was awaiting him. In his absence some army men had entered their home forcibly and tried to impose themselves on the ladies. When the ladies did not yield they took them along with. Later, their bodies were found in a nearby brook. Both of them dead.

Rapes, forced disappearances and deaths were not new to Kashmir. But when this all happens to someone first hand it is difficult to bear. That day he felt helpless. His brother had not been given justice. And when he wanted justice for his mother and sister, he was met with same fate. Post-mortem reports were altered. Rules were bent. And the killers were given a free passage along with a transfer. Justice was murdered once again. Again, like all those years when 100’s of youth were killed and no one was held responsible.

The day he realised he could not get justice in the Indian legal system did he make up his mind. He wanted to avenge the deaths. Not just of his family but of Kashmir. Of the 1000’s of martyrs who laid their lives to free it from the occupation. That day he disappeared.

She could still remember the day like it had happened yesterday. (his name) had not appeared in any other exam. Nor could anyone get him to talk or do anything. It was the onset of depression. And this later led to his disappearance. Some said he killed himself in grief. Others said he crossed over the border. But no one did anything. Moot spectators.

It had been a year since his disappearance. He had returned as suddenly as he had disappeared. His eyes still spoke of the ordeal he had met. His pain had not died away. Time did not heal his wounds. Incurable.

Yet, whenever she had conversation with her Indian class fellows they held him wrong. He was labelled a terrorist even without hearing his side of the story. News anchors shouted to establish their point. People started discussing him on national television. But they never knew what provoked him. She wanted to ask them how they would feel if their brother was out to fetch snacks and was shot at without any fault. Was it some play? Was he a wax model? A target to practice upon? She wanted to ask them if they had ever reached home and found that some army men had misbehaved with their mother and later killed her? Would they still worship their country, their army as they do now?

Her staunch Indian fellows were blindfolded by the media and their national chauvinist mentality. The truth never reached them. She wanted to tell them his truth. But then are Kashmiri students studying outside the state not killed and labelled terrorists or lodged in jails for no fault? Or even worse, they sometimes merely disappear. And quiet she kept.

 

Perpetual…

Some rains are perpetual. However hard you may try to fight them off, they always find a reason to stay!