My Kashmir Files story part 3

In March this year, It had been a couple of days since I saw TKF in the theatre.

I was feeling anxious and disturbed and barely slept for a couple of nights.

One night I woke up at 3 am and vomited out our Jammu ordeal on paper for hours till I saw the early rays of the rising sun- and then went back to sleep.

It felt like catharsis.

It has been 8 months since then, and I didn’t have the emotional will to revisit my diary & document it in a form of a blog.

Recently #TheKashmirFiles was called vulgar propaganda.

I couldn’t take it and finally, decided to go through all 20 pages and share our ordeal with the whole world.

So here goes my story.

-> One random day in march \ April in 90\91, dates are blurry – but what I remember was mom waking and dressing us up at midnight, and while we were still sleepy and it was pitch dark outside our taxi starting from Anantnag.

-> I, my younger brother, Mom Dad, and 2 cousins (~ 19\20), we all in a 4 seater taxi, carrying 1 small VIP attache few documents in it, 2-3 small bags & some of mom’s gold jewellery hidden in a small पोटली – that is all they could manage to bring with them.

-> Surprisingly I was super excited for my first long drive.

How naive of me, I remember enjoying rajma chawal on the way, but slowly when the terrain & climate started to change – I started feeling uneasy & restless.

-> Every hour I would nag my dad “Kar vatav” (when will we reach). He would reply back saying “Bas veet” (soon), and I would show my displeasure and crib ” Toh vanvu bas 1 gante lagge” (you said we will take only 1 hour).

-> I vividly remember entering Jammu, the ugly-looking red-maroon-yellow wildflowers welcoming us on the way ( rarely see them now in Jammu, 90s kids will surely remember them). I could smell them from a distance & feel nauseated. We got rid of our sweaters as soon we crossed patni top, and the sun was yet to set when we reached Jammu.

->Finally taxi dropped us near an under-construction shop in Janipur (a small town in Jammu), my Mama Ji’s family had left a week before us and had rented 2 small rooms there.

->We had dinner & since there was no place to sleep, All the men and kids slept either on one side of the road on चारपाई , or in the under-construction shop. It was one of the longest nights of our lives. I don’t remember sleeping much that night, thanks to the heat & hundreds of mosquitos sucking my blood. 😡

-> I felt betrayed, angry & irritated, my last couple of months in Kashmir were heavenly. A few months back we had shifted from our Srinagar home which was next to a mosque to our Mausa ji’s 3-storied mansion in Anantnag for safer refuge.

->I didn’t understand the situation outside, we kids were having a good time. No school, unlimited playtime, and getting pampered by our older cousins. Masi had a huge house with so many rooms – A big garden with so many flowers, we never felt we were locked in for months.

-> The only irritating factor was the 6pm electricity cuts on Sat & Sunday when we were looking forward to our weekly movie on Doordarshan.

They did it on purpose, as soon as the movie was about to start electricity will go away.

-> When we reached Jammu, I didn’t realise what we had left behind & what we as a family were getting into. I was only excited to meet my same-age cousins in Janipur.

->My dad decided not to risk his life and didn’t report to his job in Srinagar, he started looking for the cheapest of rooms, and we finally shifted to one in a very dingy locality.

->That room was totally opposite to how we had been living in Kashmir. It had no window, door opening into a big aangan. Basically, It was a cowshed which the landlord had cemented in a hurry to get some tenants. The route to the room was downhill and a bit slippery, and all around surrounded by झाड़ी (weed).

-> Since there was no kitchen, mom cleaned a corner of the room and made a makeshift kitchen, dad bought some utensils, a single bed, a table fan, 1-2 small trunks and 2 mega-size buckets – blue & green ( to store water). This is how we started our early days in Jammu.

-> The house owners lived next to our room, the family was nice but culturally very different from us. Their kids were a couple of years older than us, and they would physically bully us – which we would hide from our mother.

->They were not into studies & would use foul language all the time, my brother picked up all the bad words in no time. Comparatively, we were shy, into books, scared & always warned by our mom not to get into any trouble with them.

-> Jammu wasn’t ready for such a mass migration, Almost 3-5 lakh people landed in Jammu in a span of 2-3 weeks. There weren’t enough schools, water, electricity, and clean accommodation available for such a huge inflow of the Pandit population.

-> There were so many Dogra families who went to any lengths to help pandits, some even accommodated more than they could take – helped them settle in Dharamshalas, and managed food and water. Every day 100s of trucks with pandits stuffed like animals would land on the borders of Jammu & Udhampur.

-> And Jammu (blessed by Maa Vaishnavi) absorbed us all in her आंचल like a mother would do, so many came to help us re-settle, sympathized with us and would say “बहुत बुरा हुआ आपके साथ – दुख होता है”.

I don’t know if we would have been this gracious if we were at their place.

Something I will be grateful to Dogri brethren till my last breath.

->There were few who didn’t understand our situation, they saw us as a weak community who left their motherland without a fight.

->One day on the way to school – 3 teenage boys grabbed my 5-6-year-old brother by his p***s and started saying “yeh hai Kashmiri lola (dick) – haath main kangdi – muh main chole – aaye dekho yeh Kashmiri lole”.

->I don’t know from where I got the courage, I scratched one of them with my nails, bit his hand – grabbed my brother’s arm and ran from that place. Shaken till core we avoided that route to school for many days – but promised each other not to share it with my mom as we didn’t want to add to her problems.

-> Some people in Jammu saw us as an opportunity to earn some quick money, so they started making basic rooms that looked nothing more than a cowshed.

->But Kashmiris were desperate, they needed a roof over their head and a room to ensure their women could sleep with some dignity. All my relatives lived in very dingy places during those initial years.



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