Relying on research and interview material gathered during his stay in Srinagar, Subhajit Pal discusses Kashmir’s historical connection to Central and West Asia as it manifests in contemporary times.
Negative Female Portrayals in the Folktales of the Raantas, the Kikimora and the Banshee — by Aadil Hussain
Aadil Hussain problematizes the portrayal of sinister and fear-inducing female figures in traditional folktales from multiple cultures, starting with his own.
Majid Maqbool curates a list of 10 must-read essays on Kashmir by Gautam Navlakha, taken from a larger body of work that spans decades of Gautam’s engagement with Kashmir. The curated list includes a general introduction by Majid and a summary and preview for each of the pieces linking back to the original sources where these writings were published. Inverse Journal has also provided relevant links (at the end of this curated list) directly embedded from Indian and international organizations in view of recent events pertaining to Gautam Navlakha’s detention at this vulnerable time during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Six months before he was born, Muhammad Hanief’s maternal grandparents and two maternal uncles were murdered by a group comprising of two Ikhwanis (counter-insurgent renegades) and two BSF (Border Security Force) troopers. The case was finally resolved in the courts in 2009, with the perpetrators sentenced to life in prison. Given the sensitivity and horrific details of the case, written permission was sought for the publication of this account from the family of the writer. All of the particulars provided in this account, including details pertinent to the case, are available in the public domain via a series of news reports of the event and further specified in the FIR filed by the family members of the victims. The author has compiled this account based on several years of conversation with his mother who has narrated it to him so that he may write it down for posterity.
A stranger in a strange land, Bushra Punjabi reflects on the condition of being away from home and at home within the confines of memory. In such a mode, she reflects on what it means to be Kashmiri in an uncertain present, between an imposing past and an impending future. In this quagmire of time, the writer and sociology researcher retrieves a sense of being Kashmiri, contemplating her belonging to a troubled Kashmir and her longing for a Kashmir free from tyranny.
When Peerzada Sheikh Muzamil was eight years old, his father was shot by unidentified gunmen. Twelve days after the attack, on 15th February 2005, the young writer’s father succumbed to his injuries in Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar. To liberate memory from trauma, these letters are an attempt by the writer to engage with his childhood and confront his tragic loss at a vulnerable age. This February 15th marks the 15th year since his father’s tragic death. We present two such letters from an entire series out of which some were published first by Mountain Ink Magazine.
A feminist activist from Israel revisits her partner’s all but eye-witness account of a young Palestinian woman in occupied Ramallah who was forced to provide sexual services to Israeli tax officials. Years after the facts, she turns the rigor of her critical gaze at her failure of vision and potential action. Privileged Jewish, Ashkenazi, educated, middle class, she is also placed beyond the pale by her dissent and her lesser gender. But, she says, “This telling is not a ritual of absolution. It is not a confession. I am trying to understand, to locate where and how it works – the trap. The paralysis. The silencing. … The record I’m keeping admits to the guilt, takes responsibility for it. Squirms with it. Dwells with it, squirming. It also recognizes the wisdom; of managing within constraints, of identifying the possibilities, of slow, persistent negotiating, of painstaking work against the grain of, but still within, femininity.” Originally published in Hebrew in the collection “Home Archaeology: Essay Tales” and re-rendered into English by the author, this piece unearths some of the most unspoken, deeply buried and horrific layers of occupation, subjection and collusion.
Having graduated recently from the Summer Institute at the Iowa International Writers Workshop, young Sheikh Saqib summarizes his experience of the ongoing lock-down and media blockade imposed on Kashmir, right upon his return from the USA. As a student barely past his teens, Saqib describes the atmosphere observed and felt by the people of his native Srinagar, days before the Indian government’s announcement abrogating Articles 370 and 35A on August 5th and the weeks that have followed since. Accounts such as his are essential to understanding the situation in Kashmir from a Kashmiri perspective, and are welcomed at Inverse Journal, from Kashmiris of all walks of life, to narrate and describe what they have felt and observed under the latest siege that has put the Valley under complete lock-down and in an unprecedented halt. This time, the account comes from a young student who, just a few weeks ago, was learning how to write more effectively under the guidance and mentorship of faculty at University of Iowa’s prestigious MFA program to then landing back in Kashmir to face the present and enforced circumstances along with the rest of the Kashmiri population.
In a quest to find himself within a greater history of his place of birth, Murtaza Fazily recounts his conversation with a renowned historian of Ladakh, Haji Sadi Ali Sadiq Sahib, who narrates the tales of castles in ruins brought back to life (through the oral tradition) and the rise of the kings who built them. From the mouth of an aged historian and the man who sought answers and lent a persistent ear, here is the story of Purig and its forgotten history.
Murtaza Fazily visits his birthplace to meet young and senior archers, sports officials, bureaucrats, prominent cultural figures and residents to gather their perspective on archery and its essential place in Ladakhi society and its culture. In the story narrated mainly from the dialogues with such figures, a history of archery, its tradition, its transformation and its present condition is discussed thoroughly. The writer has chosen to remain loyal to the words of those who inform his research about the status of archery in Ladakh by providing ample space for their statements and accounts. As such, the story that follows is primarily driven by such statements and accounts by the same people who practice and promote archery while struggling to keep it relevant.
Majid Maqbool recalls a night in the Kashmiri 90s when a band of unexpected visitors come knocking at the door. The account told from the perspective of an adolescent narrator recounts a story that is far too familiar to the Kashmiri population that has seen war and conflict at their doorsteps. However, such stories many times remain unwritten and have been transmitted more often through word of mouth and in many a conversation. The writer here successfully captures one such story and narrates it through the written word, introducing elements of storytelling and memory-making that are not habitually put into practice around such topics given the air of trauma, fear and censorship that keeps Kashmiris from recalling their own experience of Kashmir, particularly since the early 90s.