“Azadi” is also the chant whose echoes swirl in the Kashmir Valley with greater resonance each day, from the minarets and playgrounds, boulevards and alleys, schools and courts, despite the crushing screeches of teargas and bullets of the Indian (in)security forces. It is “scriptured” into utterance by each breath of Kashmiri women, children, and men; calligraphed by their blood on their emerald valley; embroidered by their bones in Kashmiri Arabesque on worn cobblestones of the downtown; and papier-mâchéd in paisley tears on the blue of their beloved lakes.
by Huma Dar
And the night’s sun there in Srinagar? Guns shoot stars into the sky, the storm of constellations night after night, the infinite that rages on. It was Id-uz-Zuha: a record of God’s inability, for even He must melt sometimes, to let Ishmael be executed by the hand of his father. Srinagar was under curfew. The identity pass may or may not have helped in the crackdown. Son after son–never to return from the night of torture–was taken away.
… But the reports are true, and without song: mass rapes in the villages, towns left in cinders, neighborhoods torched. “Power is hideous / like a barber’s hands.” The rubble of downtown Srinagar stares at me from the Times.
… And that blesséd word with no meaning–who will utter it? What is it? Will the women pronounce it, as if scripturing the air, for the first time? Or the last?
… What is the blesséd word? Mandelstam gives no clue. One day the Kashmiris will pronounce that word truly for the first time. (Excerpt from Agha Shahid Ali’s “The Blesséd Word: A Prologue,” in The Country Without A Post Office, 1997: 16-17)
Lies are created around the truth of our struggle. But truth has a habit of confronting falsehood. Occupation is based on a pile of lies. There’s truth in the resistance of unarmed people on the streets. And truth triumphs in the end. It always does, even if it takes time.
by Majid Maqbool
The street is the home of our stones. Streets can be occupied, but stones are free for us to pick up, and angrily fling in the air — in protest. From the hands of the oppressed, once pelted, the stones deliver a message to the oppressor: while you kill with no remorse on my soil, and stage false encounters with all your advanced weapons, I’m not going to keep quiet. I will not let you kill us without offering resistance. I have these stones on my streets. I exist in these stones. If your occupation is in bullets, our resistance is in these rough-edged, homegrown stones.
We, who come out protesting on the streets, are not an ignorant, frustrated and unemployed lot — as the occupier likes to frame us, and the whole world seems to simplistically believe. Far from it! We are the ones who refuse to keep quiet in tyrannical times. We are the ones who shape the songs of resistance, as we practice them in our streets. It takes much courage and conviction to come out on the streets, and protest against the heavily militarized state forces. The sentiment of freedom confronts the idea of occupation. In every stone that’s pelted, there’s a promise to bring down the structures of occupation, bit by bit, crack by crack. We know in our hearts and minds that this ugly structure of occupation — built on deceit over the years — is bound to crumble one day under the force of our stones. It is this hope that keeps the resistance alive.