I have come back from Kashmir, my third trip in the last two months. This time I almost got lynched at Nawhatta, in downtown Srinagar. My colleague, photographer Shome Basu was also caught badly in an incident of stone pelting.
The Kashmiris are too angry.
But in between, we got some time off and, one afternoon, the two of us went to the Ahdoos for lunch. The hotel’s restaurant was empty because, one, it is the month of Ramzan, and two, a strike had been called by the separatists, and nobody was in a mood to enjoy lunch. So, we got the seniormost and, obviously, the most experienced waiter to serve us.
We had rice, Roganjosh and Haakh.
I felt so sleepy afterwards that I was tempted to cancel all my post-lunch appointments. But after a strong Kehwa, I continued my interviews, and also managed to witness a major clash between a bunch of youth and the paramilitary forces.
This was when a young man died – a man who was not even taking part in the protests. He had just stepped out to buy toffees for his nephew when a rubber bullet him, and he died on the spot.
A day later, I met that two-year old nephew of his. He is still under shock and all his chirpiness is gone. He is almost paralysed by the shock.
Back at the hotel, the image of that boy kept on haunting me. Till Muzamil Jaleel arrived, and till midnight regaled us with his anecdotes.
As we invoked Bacchus, 'Z' drooled at Sridevi’s rain dance sequence in a film of 80s. Noticing that, Muzammil made a dig at his alleged virginity at the age of thirty-two.
“It makes no sense to watch someone hurl a grenade; one has to do it himself,” he said.
In Kashmir, only examples of grenades or bullets serve as metaphors.