Thursday, July 27, 2006

Your almond eyes

Tumhari aankhon ka aakash
Saral aankhon ka neela aakash

(The sky of your eyes
The blue sky of
Your simple eyes)

You were too young to have inspired the above lines of a Hindi poet, who wrote it decades ago. But if you ask me, Priyadarshani, I would like to compare your eyes to the raw, green spring almonds of Kashmir. I have been told that you were an award-winning singer, who performed in faraway nations like Russia. Tell me, did they look at you, the Russians, and utter: Mera joota hai Japani, ye patloon Hindustani – did they?

I imagine you walking on the road near your South Delhi house, humming a tune gently. Or smiling shyly in affirmation on being asked: Are you a Kashmiri? Yes you were and to be recognised on the streets as one, you did not need the symbolic Dejharu.

Long before you turned 26, your parents, like almost all Kashmiri Pandit families, must have begun to amass many small and big things to be sent along with you at the time of your marriage. Kashmiri shawls, carpets, silverware. They must have spoken in hushed tones about this or that boy who they would have seen during marriage ceremonies of friends and relatives.

These days, I visit your area quite often. I am just trying to help my friend Ajay in his next film. He lives just behind the road that Santosh Kumar would have taken to approach your house, rape you and then kill you by strangulating you with a telephone cable.

You are no more than a faded picture in this mortal world. Your killer is a practising lawyer. But you know, Priya, I have just been back after listening to a man’s story who witnessed the 1947 Indo-Pak partition as a five-year old kid. There is no heaven or hell. Every account is settled here on Earth. His will be too. But don’t you know that already?

This evening, a friend sang Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s song:

Ik kudi
Jidda naam mohabbat
Saad muradi
Soni fabbat
Gumm hai, gumm hai
Gumm hai

(A girl
Named love
She is lost
Lost she is)

Where do I find you? Hey don’t pinch my shoulder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Slightly drier than your usual style, your story has a porousness that carries Priyadarshani's life right to my face, where it slaps me so I don't forget her. Great tribute to a person, and to the principles that failed, so she lost her life. A fire burns in you about those principles, so hot and hard that you turn your face sideways to it and write like this. Like this.