|Posted on October 1, 2011 at 4:20 AM|
Here is a story, I believe you would all like to read,
The story of Kashmir’s Azad Mott
Sometime ago, in a beautiful small village in Kashmir, lived a mott (mystic or mad) called Azad. Having given up the realm of thoughtfulness for the sake of mindless freedom, he would roam around the village in his torn and worn-out pheran. The villagers regarded Azad, the mott, as a person who knew more about life than ordinary folk and would often seek his advice. But could also not resist patronizing him for his awkward and clumsy ways.
Azad spoke in a mixture of Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, Persian, English, Arabic, Punjabi and Pashto languages and quite often the combination of words uttered by him turned out to be pearls of great wisdom. The ambiguity of the message in his words meant that a person had to think long enough to grab the meaning. How answers would connect to their questions was a marvel in itself. For example, Azad had a habit of collecting all sorts of rags and bits and pieces as he wondered around the village. He would deposit it in an abandoned hut in the corner of the village and burn some of the junk in the evenings rejoicing in the dance of flames of the fire. Someone once asked him,"Paane chukh yoata mokur rozaan, telle kyazi chukh chande jamma kareth gaam saaf karan?(You keep yourself so unclean, then why do you tidy the village by scavenging for rubbish all over the place?) Azad stopped his babble for a second, as if considering an answer, and then replied, ”Wajood chuh paanas warey soarey kenh. Yelle su saaf telle bu saaf," (Existence is everything other than self. When that is clean, I’m clean)
At another instance he was asked, what would happen of the Kashmir problem,Azad reacted,"Poien chuh waarewaar baalas gaalan, weinne te cheh duniya wuchen.”(Water slowly brings down the mountain; the world has a world to see yet.)
Early morning, Azad would climb the small hill near the village, when enquired, why he went there everyday, he would reply, “Bu gasaan gash chhalni” (I go to wash light.)
One fine summer morning, a police battalion arrived in the village. They took young men from the village and built bunkers, barracks and walls to set up a police camp on the hillside. A camp on the hill meant that villagers going uphill to their field had to pass through the camp.
Within a few weeks, allegations of molestations, harassment and human rights abuse began to surface. The villagers protested by observing a few hartals (strikes) but as always the rituals of people were matched by the state with its own rites and the magical exercise of inquiry revealed nothing. Gradually, the forest above the village began to thin visibly and a band saw was established in the village. People began to groan when their walnut trees were cut to meet the veracious appetite of the blades of the band saw. But all their efforts went futile.
Meanwhile, Azad had a few encounters with the guards at the camp. They asked him the purpose of his uphill visits, so early in the morning. And he replied “Roshni dhona hae” whereupon he was heartily ridiculed. On one occasion, the village headmen intervened and requested the guards to allow Azad, but they would not listen. On their way back to the village, the village headman admonished Azad,"Tse kyazi karn hajje katha? Soed paeth banne na kath wanin?"(Why do you talk obliquely? Can’t you say a thing or two in a straightforward manner?) Azad replied, ”Danish dardastey qabelayea sitmgaraan dirham ast. Pi aasne neshe fikre tarun setha jaan” (Knowledge is the currency of the tribe of oppressors. Understand more, even at the cost of knowing less)
Azad kept arriving at dawn, the attitude of the guards turned from bemusement to indifference to open irritation. Salley, teri ma ki.., teri bhen ka.., subha subha aajaata hai disturb karne, dobara aaya toh goli maar dengay” ( Fu** your mother... fu** your sister, disturbing us so early in the morning, we will kill you if you come here again).
The next morning, Azad appeared again at the gate. This time the guards took him in—straight to the room they simply called Cell No. 2. Azad was tortured for five days. Electricity passed through his body, rollers rolled over his chest and legs and salt rubbed into his wounds. It is said during his torture,Azad cried,"Innal insaana lafee khusr, is it God’s position or man’s?”(Without doubt mankind is in loss, is it God’s position or man’s?)
When they became tired, they threw him outside the gate half dead. The villagers picked him up and the whole village got together to tend to him. The combination of so much care and the resilience of his invincible spirit ensured the commencement of a recovery even from such a mutilated state.
A few days latter, some young boys had an articulation with the soldiers at the gate over the right to pass through the camp. Matters heated up and ascended onto the slogan of “Azadi”. The soldiers fired upon the group. Four boys died on spot and three succumbed on their way to the hospital. A gloom spread over the village.
When Azad had recovered enough, he heard the news of the killings in the village. He directed a young girl to bring him some nettle (Soi). He took the nettle in one of his hands and caressed it. Then he said, ”Soi Soi, watte Khawoo” (Go nettle eat the path)
Presently, strange things started to happen at the camp. The soldiers slept in their barracks but found themselves outside when they woke up. The Poplar trees around the camp mysteriously began to fall down on the bunkers, injuring many soldiers and killing at least five. The largest barrack in the camp, which also housed the canteen, was built around a young chinar tree. The chinar suddenly opened up its branches, tossing the bricks and corrugated sheets all around. These reports were confirmed when the decision to abandon the camp was conveyed to the thrilled villagers by the village headman.
Although the officer-in-charge still maintains that the decision to remove the camp was a strategic one and had nothing to do with the seemingly supernatural events, the villagers are in no mood to listen. The officer even had explanations for all the events,” look we were based on a hillside, so it was quite natural that when we slept, sometimes we rolled out of our beds down the slope, and the poplars, may be some of the jawans urinated under them, which made their roots weak and they got uprooted. Same is the case with the chinar, it must have been getting more nutrients than usual because of the biochemical wastes from our canteen”.
As police left the village, few stones followed them downhill and Azad became the hero of a campaign against oppression and of a story to be retold through the ages.
“Water slowly brings down the mountain, the world has a world to see yet”
(The story has been abridged from the original that appeared in a Srinagar Magazine last year.)