Murree. It carries sweet loving moments of time, lost, yet precious, incidents, happenings, tours, travels, visits, picnics-the uphill mall road with closely lined shops made one breathless but so free on the way back that all load would become light. Murree, I miss you…
I was still lost in the enchanting world of this hill station , my first real life station, where I opened my eyes heart and soul to a new country and fell in love with it, when tremors of terror , whirring whispers of swirling machines , unheard sounds of shots fired , touched the trembling spirit to the depths of silent helpless sadness- the remnants of war hover dangerously around getting closer step by step, incident by incident, forcibly probing the unknown kingdom of fear- why? when we all have to leave this world one day, why, when we all have to die anyway, why ?why is this machine age so disturbingly destructive?
Murree! I wish it was the same and I were young and happy-like I see myself in this picture, with my sister and a friendly uncle-my sister is now far across the continents and oceans, in a land of the free’ but I cannot go there, it is too far away and I have no way, and also no one will let me go -I cannot see my sister now, nor meet her, sit with her, talk to her, …share …and I know if I leave this world, she will not come…
Murree is a place.It has a strange aroma, a romantic scent of pine trees, rising tall and high in the sky, it has a soft grassy touch and a cool sense of the breeze, its winding ways bring the movements of the renaissance overture waltzing over the hills, the cones would burn and sizzle and so thoroughly enjoyable would be the ‘roasted corn on the coal’, dipping the hand in the coat pocket would fill up with fresh walnuts and never does the warmth of the teacup become cold …cold only to enjoy , sitting in the front side of the Lintots Cafe watching people passingby and sometimes waving to a friendly face or two-
Murree-you are safe I hope-your hills be free and green always, I cried today because I saw a ripe field of wheat destroyed by some trespassers in the night.How much of hard work, time and effort must have been spent …food is already scarce and expensive… and I remembered the words’ fire and ice’, this time it was just ‘fire’ and ‘fuel’ -we need fuel , we all do but for different purposes. Oh Murree, my story begins to slow down as words become less- I liked a phrase I read recently that ‘lets gather words’ and perhaps this is what we need to do, not only gather words but gather our thoughts feelings , ideas, and gather our love and care and try to share it around the world-gather the courage to drive away the fears…gather…ourselves as good human beings…gather the flowers…while Spring is visible…gather
all that is good…help me …to remember…help me to be good…
I was born in the beautiful city of Srinagar, Kashmir. I have heard stories about it. Visiting my home city is impossible because of the political status, but I can still keep the memory alive by preparing the delicious food common there.
So it is going to be ‘YAKHNI’ this time.
Yes, surely and definitely, though I find its preparation a bit expensive due to the rising prices of fuel affecting the eatables’
Well, I am really looking forward to this day’
We were talking my friend and I, about the coming Eid, our Holy Festival after the Month of Ramazan, the fasting month of Islam.
‘Yakhni’ is the easiest and tastiest of all, at least I find it so’
‘Mom , why dont you serve it as soup this time?’ my son lounging on the sofa cum bed nearby, trying to sleep away the fast, had his cusinary bud towards us . Well, it can be taken as soup, why not, it can be thick as well as thin in the gravy.
Okay Mom make it like you always do and tell us some new story this year, maybe a fictitious one’ my son was smiling because he knew his writer Mom had had very little success with stories though more fame had come as a poetess.
Let me in, on the recipe and preparation, then, my friend was more than eager now.
My brother in law had sent me a book on Kashmiri Cooking’ by Neerja Mattoo and I had kept it close to my heart and kitchen. I opened the page on ‘Yakhni’
Lets see now, it says ‘Mutton’ in Yoghurt Gravy’
Mutton in Yoghurt Gravy
- 1 kg mutton you can buy ribs, I mean lambs ribs-or other fatty mutton cut into medium size pieces
- 4 cups yoghurt
- 60 ml oil
- 2 tsp ginger powder
- 4 cloves
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Garam Masala AH
Hot spicesBoil with cloves ginger cardamom salt powder and make the meat tender.Pour whisked youghurt over the meat stirring all the time , simmer till it comes to the boil. Make it into a smooth thin custard like consistency…
I was reading from the book, when suddenly I realised the strange silence, I looked up to find my friends perplexed face… well?
Well, I would prefer to see you actually make it then I would know how to do it myself.
Oh well, then lets wait till the day of festivity is near shall we?
I had a vision of the green gardens of my city ,
the famous Chinaar Bagh, and the Dal Lake with the houseboats, and the song ‘BHUM ro BHUm ro shaam rang Bhum ro’ The small drum called ‘Duff’ and the stringed instrument called ‘Sarod’ being strummed far away in the hills and valley.
Oh my Kashmir , would I ever go to see you in my life time? Would you ever be free?
The news on the TV showed fresh protests, freedom democracy where are you now.
Greeks Roman Countrymen?
I was hardly a year and a half
born in war, like a refugee I am told-
I crossed barbed wires , to a new land;
It was a divided nation
an unstable station ,for some time
there was- a celebration;
but soon it was all -devastation
loneliness parting degradation.
I crossed other barriers-
I tried to make another home
I thought I was free-
I struggled through invisible fires-
I slipped on mud and mires
My faith only, kept me strong
Oh where do I belong?
My body will be dust my soul will fly
Will my story find , a respectable place
Should I know the clue to the destination’
If it is all so simple-is there a solution?
For what crime or punishment was I taken away from a land, a place where I was born, now no more mine, I cannot go there, Ah why do I feel for the touch of the soil, and long for the pure air where I opened my eyes and breathed for the first time.
Yet,now growing up in adopted space, a nations theory on the stand, hand in hand, in this land, I do but stand, on half the sand,my footsteps are invisible. Lost for me is my place of birth how can I celebrate in mirth?
What words can express the joy of my aching heart, real freedom real bonds never break, as true friends remain and never part-
I am silent but I can see the sacrifice amidst the beauty all these years I have been told,” This is how we lived in the warm summers and this is how we beat the cold” .
My Land was sold.
I was born in the beautiful city of Srinagar, Kashmir. I have heard stories about it. Visiting my home city is impossible because of the political status, but I can still keep the memory alive by writing about it and sharing my stories with readers all over the world.
Chapter 1 The Circled Territory
Kashmir is on the map in the circle. It is a disputed area. The fate of the Kashmiri people has not been decided .Are they going to be free from domination? A question awaiting an answer.While many young have sacrificed their lives and are still dying from bullet wounds.
Many famous names are on this list. Around the world we have seen people like Nelson Mendela, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Gandhi,and K H Khurshid. In the East and far East and The Middle East, many great names are remembered. How far do we remember those who were not in the lead?
Caravan of People
The people left their homes for the Greenland of their Dreams, in caravans of bullock carts.A few or literally none , belongings of clothes or household items, hardly any food. Many were lucky to get something to eat by friendly villagers on the way. Otherwise death was lurking on every step and corner.
The Plight Conditions during the long journey.
Kashmir is still a dream.
My memoirs may not make me a writer.I know people do not wish to read about a disputed land.But ask those who have no identity.No home, to go to, no freedom of being called a true citizen. They are the Refugees.
Who is a Refugee?
One, who lives in another land which is not the birthplace. But is the land really owned by the people?
All these words and terms are just words-aliens, displaced persons, affectees, shelterless, asylum seekers, who are these people, and will they ever be settlers?
My homeland Kashmir is a dream for me.I can not go there till I have special permission, the house where I was born still stands somewhere.Who lives in it now, I have no information.Who plays there in the yard, or who sleeps in the bedroom, I wonder? My restless soul and spirit will always think of all these questions constantly arising . These questions will always be asked, maybe till the Day of Freedom.