Kashmir issue for Dummies
Piya has been waiting for her mother to reach school to pick her but her mother is late. Piya assumes it is because of the Mumbai traffic. After 15 minutes of waiting she sees her mother rushing towards her seeming irritated. So she has to cut short her conversation with Sameera and leave with her mom.
Mom – Sorry Piya! Sorry! The school security wouldn’t let me come in. I forgot my i-card so he did all unnecessary verifications. Uff! it was so frustrating. I come here every day!! He should know me by face!
Piya – Hmmm
Mom – Why is my little baby quiet today?
Piya – Did you know that in Kashmir people have to carry identity cards everywhere they go? Like even if they have to go for shopping or movies or malls, I mean like everywhere!!?
Mom – No I don’t think everywhere. Also they do not have any malls or theatres. Why today suddenly this thought Piya?
Piya – No malls??? No theaters?? Sameera did a project on Kashmir today. We had to do project on our country remember so she did it on Kashmir. She said there are no malls in Kashmir but I refused to believe her. There are malls everywhere in India!! She also said that after it gets little dark outside kids don’t even play outside. Is that also true mom?
Mom – It must be for safety from animals or because it’s too cold maybe that’s why.
Piya – No mom! it’s because people disappear there. Can you believe they disappear and no one knows where they are? Some moms are still finding their sons who disappeared 10 years ago. How is that possible?
Mom – Those people don’t disappear they are arrested by police because they do bad things.
Piya (on verge of tears) – Sameera’s dadaji had disappeared mumma. He didn’t do any bad thing he was a doctor. She showed us his photo. Sameera looks like him.
Mom – you kids are just 11 years old. You should not think so much about these things. I will call school and ask them how they allow such presentation.
Piya – But mom I have heard you and papa talk about Kashmir issue and Kashmiris when your friends come home. But whatever I heard you say is all wrong. They are just people like you and me, Sameera’s mom dad lived in Kashmir but they had to come out of Kashmir to be able to study more. They didn’t feel safe there and you know now in Kashmir, since 60 days, schools are shut. Why don’t our police make it safe for kids to go to school? I feel sad. What if I was born in Kashmir?
Mom – No! Never! Don’t even say things like that. Schools and everything is shut that is not Indian securities fault. It’s much more complicated than that. I haven’t read much but I know it’s complicated. The reasons go back to far history.
Piya – Tell me more na mumma I want to know, I have to prove to Sameera that I am right. Give me proofs mumma.
Mom – Piya listen! You are too young to get into such complicated political scenario. But you have to learn to ignore and just remember this. Kashmir is in India. The people there have to respect our army and our Army is doing a great job in keeping them safe. Don’t hear anything else. Don’t think anymore.
Piya – but mumma I want proofs. Many women were troubled, many kids were hit and all those things that Kashmiri people have been going through that Sameera talked about it is true or they are just like stories mom?
Mom – they are all stories ignore them
Piya – she showed us proofs. She showed Jawaharlal Nehru saying in speech something like Kashmiris can decide whom they want to be with or be alone. What to ignore? Why Kashmiri people can’t live like we do?
Mom – Piya now its getting too much. I am telling you India is doing its best and Kashmiris are just being ungrateful. That’s all there is to this.
Piya – You said that already mom but you are not giving me proofs. I am very confused. I will go home and google it myself.
Mom (getting agitated) – NO!!!!!! You will not google this.
Piya (more confused) – Why not mumma?
Mom (agitation increases) – because there are pictures that are not apt to be seen by your age.
Piya – kind of pics?
Mom (losing it completely) – pics of wounded injured people! Pics of kids with pellet wounds on their eyes, pics of blood and all of that.
Piya ( silent for a long time)
Piya (with a lump in her throat) – Mom
Mom –Now what Piya!
Piya (in the Sadest whisper ever)– The pics that you were talking about are of Army men and police or of the Kashmiri people?
At this point the mother put a hand on the kid’s shoulder and, pulled her closer and stayed quiet. She had a distant look in her eyes. This is a real conversation that I overheard as I was sipping coffee in their school cafeteria where I was waiting for my daughter.
I only hoped that the look in her eyes meant ‘thank you piyu for making me feel this compassion and will surely do my own research more about Kashmir issue and make opinions based on truth.’
Because that’s exactly what that conversation did to me.
If a child can, why can’t we?
By Mehak Mirza Prabhu
Mother, Storyteller, Writer, Entrepreneur
Born as Tejal Prabhu grew up listening to the likes of P. L Deshpande and evolved into Mehak Mirza studying Galib. The fascination of storytelling grew with very inch and ounce of me. Soon came the time to tell stories to my daughter. Now she is 10 and tells her own stories and doesn’t need me. But now I am severely addicted to storytelling. So I am growing a huge tree of boundless fiction, the seeds of which are the hardships I have faced and the memories I had burried. The sunlight being the reality of the world we live in and I water it with my soul. It’s shade I wish to share with all. As ‘Mehak Mirza Prabhu’ I seek simple pure happiness.