Sentiment in my stone

An  acclaimed columnist wrote recently  in one of his social media posts , I love to buy books written by our children . It gives me unique inner satisfaction .May Allah protect our children.”

One such young boy is Aazib Manzoor who has come out with around three hundred page debut novel titled “The Sentiment in my Stone”.  One special expression from the front cover page of this novel is the presence of armed security men, lot of stones, bricks and pebbles scattered on the road and the lone youngster with raised hand depicting throwing the stones. This picture is making a statement that skirmishes between security men and the youngsters have just come to an end. The stone and the pellet firing has been a regular ammunition   physically and the psychological harrying is, of course, through  sentiment.

Few years back the newspapers carried the head lines ;Dead eyes’ epidemic plagues Kashmir. This year, the police fired upward of 1.2 million pellets in the first 32 days of the protests in the region.
The patient’s eyelids have been stretched back with a metal clamp, so his eyeball bulges out of glistening pink tissue. The surgeon sits with his back very straight, cutting with tiny movements of his fingers. Every now and then, a thread of blood appears.

These news items appearing in various newspapers is testimony to the fact that the before the corona epidemic eye epidemic has occurred with pellet firings.

The present book under the discussion has been dedicated to all the victims of Kashmir conflict. Notwithstanding the fact that there have been ups and downs, this conflict in extreme volatile nature has already completed around three decades. This reminds one of the quotes by the revolutionary Che Guevara ; Above all , always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone ,anywhere in the world.

The author makes his pen meander through the intricacies of conflicted happenings including murder, human rights excesses , forcible abduction and the like. The pen rather records the tragic stories , poignant details and gory incidents of blood and flesh rising high at the spots. Even forcible abduction of cousin and brother of the central character by Khan suit armed men refers to the live and disturbing incidents. In earlier times of the armed struggle any one kidnapped by local boys getting the person back would be easy task , so Shahid and Rameez reach their home safely.

In the times of conflict the student community is believed to be vulnerable because they get attracted by the slogans and tread different path which can prove fatal for the emotional class of the society. This kind of stress is explained as , ‘Even our teachers seemed a bit concerned about students of the school skipping the classes at times to take part in the protests.”

Another community which fell due to conflict is the kashmiri Pandits . The author desists from going one sided while describing the plight and does not buy the arguments of either side . “ The destination we chose was a colony that had been abandoned by the Kashmiri Pandits.”

My heart stands hapless

As that dark down approaches

And I have to say a farewell

Though I want to return,

Remember me.

Some of the things that have become important in the conflict zones include an Identity card .Describing its importance as much as life saving device the author writes, “Another fortunate thing was that he had his ID card with him , potentially saving him from bullets or worse disappearance. There is a famous proverb in Kashmir that has developed over the past decade ,’you can forget your wife at home but never your ID card.’

Living in similar situations Palestinian poet Mahmud Dervish has penned a poem which became  an epic and is recorded partly hereunder;

I am an Arab.

My ID card number is 50,000.

My children: eight

And the ninth is coming after the summer.

Are you angry?

 

XXX

Write down:

I am an Arab.

I work with my toiling comrades in a quarry.

My children are eight,

And out of the rocks

I draw their bread,

Clothing and writing paper.

I do not beg for charity at your door

Nor do I grovel

At your doorstep tiles.

Does that anger you?

In the conflict zones picking of anybody without registering the case have been reported  with continuity. One such  alleged incident has been included in the book which depicts arrest of a groom who had returned with his bride. “Then , as the nights started turning to weapons of death ,there was a knock at  the door…….The captain handed over a polythene bag to the boy’s father in which lay the remains of the groom. “

As if such incidents were not enough for the people in the conflict zone to kill or maim innocents that Shia Sunni feud was being ignited .

“ You ate at the hands of a Shia woman”said my aunt.

“What is a Shia?”I asked.

“The area where you said you stayed all of them are Shia” said Abu.

“Did the woman spit in your dinner?”It was my aunt who had the most inhibitive questions.

“No! she didn’t”

“Then I think she would have when you were not around.”

Important events taking place have been picturised in words . If it’s human rights violations, innocent killings , revenges and the like get proper space so is the description of stone pelting and powerful rebuff through tear gas ,pellets etc.

“Azadi” was the ground palpitating reply.

And then the Thud sound of tear gas gun shot at us reached our ears, with the tear gas approaching at a lightening speed, to whither somewhere in the crowd, dissemination all of us. I ran away from the soldiers……

The Azadi slogan never stopped ,the screams, the cries of anger and anguish. It reminds the short story titled ‘Navi Bemari ‘ New disease by Akhtar Mohidin. A young man having lost his senses believes that entry spot needs a body search. And when nobody searches him on his own house entry the man searches himself and only then enters. Similar cases have been reported across the valley. The author now watches him and describes his actions, “ one night I saw him counting the windows of the room ,then beds and then pair of shoes………….It was the madness ,the lunacy that got him out of that God’s forsaken place.

The book runs couple of love stories and some of the murders in the conflict zone , notwithstanding the fact that such killings are special feature of the situation. The book is written in simple but attractive language and towards the end has a positive thought in the form of a poem as under;

We shall meet again in

Srinagar

By the gates of villa of peace

Peace

Our hands blossoming into

Fists

Till the soldiers return the keys

And disappear.

And as book reaches its final page words of the young author ,recorded here,

“It’s impossible to ignore the things that make us human getting trampled under the weight of occupation make sense” and is true for all situations where conflict devours its own youth.

The ace columnist and other book lovers will definitely be satisfied reading this book !!

(Writer is a Kashmir based columnist and author of the novel “The Half Widow”. He can be mailed at wanishafi 999@gmail .com)


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