Regardless of this new gadget-heavy info-technological era set upon us, Kashmiris have always shared numerable traditional children’s games between multiple generations. In this ludic oeuvre, one sinister game emerged out of innocence, somewhere between 1989 and 1990. In those early days, within designated playgrounds in rural villages and within the cityscape, young children, and particularly boys, would play a game of chase and hide-and-seek called “Military-Mujahid” (translated “Military-Militant”). The game reflected the way Kashmiri children would come to internalize war, conflict and struggle while trying to make sense of a militarized reality within the prism of their innocent playfulness and creativity. Beyond the tragedy of such a game even existing in the first place, this story by Javid Ahmad Reshi delivers a narration that exacerbates tragedy into the grip of horror, grief, trauma and heartbreak, as Kashmiri children continue to play such a game to this day.
Shabir Ahmad Mir brings us a bone-chilling story that is set in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world where water and its purity and sustainability are at the core of narration and plot. Author of the upcoming book “The Plague Upon Us” (Hachette India, April 2020), Mir produces here a story that could easily be classified under the genre of science fiction from Kashmir. Even though the story does not have a concrete setting, if read from a Kashmiri frame of mind, it works as hyperbole fused with a metaphor for present-day Kashmir in its path towards impending doom. Readers from all across the world will be able to draw their own parallels and inferences since the story covers many relevant issues such as resource depletion, sustainability and human conflict, all revolving around the theme of survival.
Adbi Duniya, an audiobook store of Hindi and Urdu literature, brings together three pieces of Jorge Luis Borges’ writing, translated by Aasem Bakhshi and read by Tasneef Haidar.
All the way from Karnah, from the area of Kashmir that borders with Pakistan, Majid Magray brings this true-to-life fictional tale of the hunt for a “wild goat” in the dead of Kashmir’s winter.
In this short story, Majid Magray presents the small world of a boy from the Pakistani side of the Line of Control that divides India and Pakistan. The ficitionalized account acquaints the reader with life at the makeshift border between the two nuclear nations, shedding light on the struggles faced by those who live at the margins of far more densely populated areas. The young twelve year old boy, symbolically named Aazad, dreams of crossing the river from the Pakistani administered side to play a match of cricket with the boys of his age living on the Indian administered side. As the narration progresses, the world of those who live in close proximity of heightened cross-border violence comes to fore. In the process, the story reveals the simple aspirations for peace of a people who do not allow conflicting nation states dictate their relationship neither with their place of birth nor with that world that they inhabit.
In this fictional account that is far too close to reality, Wasim Malik relates the story of four young men from Pulwoam (South Kashmir) who venture out for a road trip on their motorbikes only to be confronted by the Indian Army during a surprise ID check. The narration develops into a greater reflection on life in Kashmir unveiling the world of young Kashmiri men stuck in a zone of conflict.
In experimental prose, Gowhar Yaqoob invokes an indiscernible narrative voice reminiscent of the narrative style found in the earliest texts that reflect on the genesis of consciousness and language. The narration progresses from myths of origin and philosophical reflections about ‘being’ and ‘world’ found in originary Shaiva, Buddhist and Islamicate narratives to meditations on the current state of affairs in the context of the Valley. Yaqoob’s text produces a mode of reading into ‘being’ in Kashmir and of Kashmir detached from concrete and defined sociopolitical, ideological and religious contexts. As such, the narration maintains a balance between abstraction and unfamiliarity while employing a voice that can traverse various histories and times when reflecting on what it means to have existed in the Valley through the ages.