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Kashmir Valley: The Sleeping Beauty


Kashmir in natural Beauty

Whoever said Kashmir is beautiful told a lie!

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Kashmir is (very) beautiful. If God made a Heaven on earth, then it was here in Kashmir. Kashmir, is all about beauty and struggle. It is the Sleeping Beauty. You will know about it only when you visit Kashmir.
The Kashmiris sometimes have double standards, though we all do!
Alcohol is prohibited in Islam. And so you will you find a Kashmiri telling you not to drink alcohol. It is banned in boat houses in Dal Lake. There was a middle-aged man, who asked me, “Do you have alcohol? It is forbidden here.”
I told him, “I don’t have.”
“It is cold. You should have.”
“No. I don’t drink alcohol,” I said.
“If you have, then take it out. We can drink together.”
  The man was sly and alcoholic hypocrite!
“Well, alcohol is forbidden in Islam,” I said, and put the matter to rest.
Of marriage, a Kashmiri made the weirdest excuse. “You can’t marry girls here. Our boys are dead or what?”
And another said, “The climate is not good in other places. Our girls won’t be able to live there. Kashmiri boys can marry and bring the girls from all over your Hindustan. The girls can live here easily, like the IAS couple, Tina Dabi got married to Athar Aamir Khan.”
So, the Kashmiris girls are so much fragile that they will melt in the harsh weather of the plains. Yes, I think Kashmiris are made of snow.
Why are Kashmiri people disgruntled? Kashmir issue has been a problem through all these seven decades. There have been some cases, when an army personnel have misbehaved with a lady. Well, then the kith and kin had taken up the gun for revenge. Not all army men are good. A few can do the damage. And the army have special trial courts within. Court Martial. Don’t know how long it takes, but it is enough to make the general public unsatisfied. They don’t trust the army.
The common men are quite happy with their lives. Those who work every day, and needed money to survive each day, why would they participate in agitations? There are paid participants. And those who have something to gain by the agitations. With a negative media image, the beautiful valley has been scarred. The people make the country – beautiful or ugly. Kashmir was beautiful. No matter what the situation will be, Kashmir will always be beautiful.
My story began, when I first met the beautiful girl of Kashmir. It was during the AIIMS PULSE Fest (The Unfaithful Heart). I had been a laborious student slogging in the library all day long. I frequently haunt the library, and so almost every one of the library staff knows me well. I have a cordial relationship with each of them. It just chanced that, after I had come out of the computer reading room, that the guard introduced me to a beautiful Kashmiri girl. She was a Medical Student, and had come to the college for the Fest. She along with some of her friends had come to see the library. The AIIMS library is the finest library among the Medical Colleges in India. Anyone from a Medical College will be awed by the volumes of books it has to provide and the majesty of the rooms.
 We had a very short interaction of hardly two or 3 minutes. But then, I wanted a long term relationship with her, and so I had to inquire the necessary details that would reproduce the accurate results about her again. I asked her name, her batch, and her college name. That would help me to find her again. She answered her name as Rabail, and she was studying in Government Medial College, Srinagar. Srinagar is the capital city of Kashmir. Just then, her friends came to look for her. I need not say, Kashmiri girls in general are very beautiful. (I am not raising “very” to the power of infinity, again). They were in a group of four.
Someone has rightly said,

 “Having a railway ki naukri and a Kashmiri Chhokri are heaven on earth.”

 A Railway’s job, and a Kashmiri girl as a wife, will give you salvation on earth. The girl left, as soon her friends had come. It would be imprudent for her to talk to me. I was in a dilemma. I so badly wanted to talk to her. I felt so much similarity with her in my heart. But, she knew nothing about me. Not even my name!
Would it be a tragic story?
And so, just after we parted, I searched for her name on the Facebook before I could forget it. Though I knew I wouldn’t forget it, for her name was unique and something I heard for the first time, but when you are in love at first sight, you have the fear of losing the girl. And that is what gripped me. I feared, maybe I would lose her forever. I used the search terms well, and there she was on Facebook.
I am very good at finding people. Once, I talked to a girl for five minutes in a library. In the next half an hour, I found her on the internet. Maybe it is a flirty talent of mine. I don’t ever get into relationship, because I never found the one for whom my heart beat differently. The last time, I made friendship with a girl was in the exam hall, and one during the interview. And those were again hardly five minutes talk. But I had no such feeling in me for them, as I felt for this Kashmiri girl.
I use my knowledge to come to a natural deduction, what a girl will be. And it is easy to find and send her a friend request on Facebook, if she has an account. After that it all depends on luck and the talent of keeping the girl. Well, I am very nervous in front of beautiful women that I happen to like. Out of a hundred women, I find two or three beautiful. And out of ten such women, only one would capture my mind’s eye, to inspire me and to face life in a positive way. But the bad thing that happens with me is I get nervous in the presence of such women, and the way I look at a beautiful woman, is more of a stare which makes them uncomfortable. And all my emotions and feelings goes wasted because in return, all I get back is a cold fierce stare!
That had been my life all along. And that was what I had expected what would happen with the Kashmiri girl. I found her on the Facebook and immediately sent a friend request to her. It was my lucky day that day. After a few hours, I found she had accepted my friend request. Well, I had left the specific note that we had met in the library in the afternoon! She did accept the request.
I talked to her during the period, she was in Delhi. I don’t know, but I felt I had the responsibility of her safe-being in Delhi. It was a four day visit for her. I would message her once in a while, and maybe she was irritated, but I didn’t care. Once she was back in Srinagar I felt my responsibility for her safety was over; I ceased to message her. All I could say to her on the Facebook – Kashmir is beautiful, and Kashmiris are beautiful. I love the people of Kashmir. Maybe she could decipher the message. If only girls had mind!
Rabail was a medical student. She would be a doctor. Would her father marry her off to a non-Kashmiri? I had to find my love, and ask her for marriage. She would say, ask my parents. And her father would say, “No”. That would be the end of courtship and my hopes.
I had a weird dream of a beautiful snowy valley, where a sole rose grew. And I plucked the rose and buried it on earth. And someone called me in my dream, “Come to me…come to me.” I don’t know, but when I woke up, it was the girl’s image that came in my mind, and the dream re-played. Maybe, God had sent me that dream with some purpose. I immediately planned my visit to Srinagar which was the capital of Kashmir. Now I was visiting her with a weird dream. Of seeing her again! She was beautiful in her own way. Kashmir was a sleeping beauty because its beauty have been painted over with gruesome stories of conflict.
It was early days of November, when I descended my footsteps on Kashmir for the first time. It was all snowy. It had snowed the previous day, and Kashmir had welcomed me with a wonderful sunlit morning. I was wearing sandals, so I knew how cold it was, treading on the snow. As I trudged on, I could feel the enigma of unknown fear in me. What if the girl wouldn’t be pleased to see me? I did tell her on Facebook Messenger that I would come on the given date. And with her talks, I knew she was the least interested. Poor me! To give a sole heart to someone in five minutes, who wouldn’t know the worth! Rabail was beautiful but not vain. I never knew she would accept marrying a boy who hadn’t been chosen by her parents. Rabail loved Kashmir more than she loved me. Would she leave Kashmir for my sake?
It was snowfall. Kashmir was white with snow. Our hearts were as pure as the snow. I could feel her in my breath. She was the woman I needed in my life.
I had told her I was in Kashmir, I expected she would welcome me with open arms. But, alas, I was all alone in the beautiful world. Could we enjoy Heaven alone, in loneliness? She was busy with her work, and I had no options.
Maybe she didn’t understand my life. It needed to be awakened. Just like the plight of Kashmir needed to be woken up to people to the rest of India. Negative media coverage has made it feel unsafe for the outsiders. Yes, even Muslims who haven’t visited Kashmir think it to be unsafe. You will understand the hospitality of the people only after visiting the place. And you should visit Kashmir during the snow fall. You will see paradise. Though, the beauty of nature is at its zenith in April, but the Winter Kashmir has to offer has its own charm. The mountains and valleys are covered with snow. It looks like someone has spread fluffy white cotton all over.
I was keen to see the valley of my dreams. I don’t know, if I should be visiting the Medical College to find out about my love, or I should go in search of the valley. Something was insisting me to go to Gulmarg, which is around 50 km from Srinagar. Gulmarg means road of flowers. I listened to my instincts, and travelled on. It was all snowy. The pine trees were covered with snow. Everything looked so white! I could feel the familiarity of the valley. Like I had been there earlier. The hills and vales were covered with snow, and I hired gumboots to walk on the two feet deep snow.  



It was after I returned to Srinagar, in the evening, that I felt uneasy. By the time I reached my hotel it was about 9:30 pm. It gets quite dark in Srinagar, at this time of night. The roads are deserted with dense tree on each side making the surroundings look eerie. My hotel looked more like a haunted castle at the time of the night. It was frightening knocking the door, and getting no response. I considered of seeking a new hotel. But, where would I go at this time of the night. My mobile network was completely gone, and I hadn’t bothered to get a new SIM. Only post-paid networks work in Srinagar. 

I shouted,
“Hello! Is anyone there?”
And then a boy in his early twenties, came out of nowhere. He told me he had been expecting me. I checked in, to find the entire hotel was empty! Now only God could save me. Gulmarg experience had given me hope in the beautiful land. But here, I had landed myself in what I thought was a haunted hotel. And the worst thing was, I was all alone. It made everything all the creepier. I shut the door, and checked the windows. There was a window unlatched. I closed it properly. There was an electric blanket. I lay myself in the big bedroom meant for at least four people. But I was alone. And the word, alone, as I whispered, didn’t go too well down my throat.
I lay on the bed, wondering when sleep would overcome me. Sleep is a great boon in such isolated desolate places. I don’t know when I dozed off. But, when I woke up, it was with a start. I realised I was somewhere on a mountain road. I had walked in my sleep. And I didn’t know where I was!
It happened that the boy, chanced to hear the gates open. He searched for the cause of the noise. And he found my room was open and I wasn’t there. So, he crept out in search of me. I had gone quite far, when he came after me. I was on my way to what seemed Pari Mahal. Now, it is an old castle that was supposed to be the haunt of fairies. That was the popular folklore. But now, it is more of a sightseeing for tourists. The boy awakened me with a jolt from my night rambling. I was real scared, what I was doing in the wilderness of the place at night. I returned to my hotel shivering in the night air.  
I had no idea how I had travelled so far in my unconscious state. Something was wrong with me. But why had I been heading for the way to Pari Mahal? I hadn’t heard of it before, and the boy had told me about that after jolting me awake. Or was it just a coincidence? I lay on my bed, waiting for morning to investigate the matter.
As the first light of dawn burst in, I once again set off for the road to Pari Mahal. It was an hour walk, until I reached the grounds of Pari Mahal. And there is what I saw that surprised me. The sole rose bush with a single red rose! Well, that was what I had seen in my dream. But, I couldn’t decipher the meaning. Should I break off the rose and bury it, as I had done in my dream? It looked too pretty to be plucked. Maybe it was a distortion of reality. I had felt the valley of Gulmarg familiar, and the rose bush was somewhere else. Was I made to believe in something that had changed?


I had to wait until the castle was opened to the visitors. Meanwhile I loitered around observing the trees and bushes that grew in the garden. The flowers had withered and fallen off due to the snowfall.
It was a long time of waiting, when I was finally inside the castle. I wandered through the dark alleyway and the intricate designs. Everything had been crafted with wondrous skill. I looked around seeking for something, that my instinct told me, I would find something.
And then I saw her on the wall!  It was a painting of a beautiful lady. And it resembled Rabail! There was another painting with four beautiful ladies, and I could feel the resemblance that I saw to her friends. Was it something of a coincidence or my mind was playing a trick? I shivered like a frightened wet bird. The painting must have been over hundreds of years old.
Something whirled in my mind. Rabail lived over hundred years ago. Then who was the one who had come to the PULSE Fest? I quickly got out of the building, hoping to get some history from the native old folks. When I was back in the garden, I looked around to see if no one was noticing me. When I found none, I quickly cut the stem holding the rose. I felt a sense of calmness within me. Maybe, I had found my soul-mate. Maybe I was united with the girl I loved. I don’t know what was in the rose.
Later I inquired about the girl Rabail in Government Medical College, Srinagar. But then, no one knew anything about her. Yes, there was a girl who had a similar name. And maybe she looked similar to my Rabail. But I couldn’t say my Rabail had turned into her. Coincidences are more frequent than natural incidences. And the Facebook account, I wondered if I would get to know who it was! But when I searched for the messages, I found none. Everything had been deleted, and I couldn’t find the profile. Maybe she didn’t exist. And everything had been my own imagination!
I thanked the hotel boy and gave him my WhatsApp number, and returned to Delhi with a heavy heart. I planted the rose stem in a vase. The rose had withered, and I buried it in the vase. I watered the stem regularly, and hoped the stem would grow and flower again.
This hotel boy, one day messaged me on WhatsApp, about his desire to come to Delhi. I told him, he was most welcome. I would host him. And as we talked, he told me he was gay and asked me of my sexual preference. I told him I was straight as a rod, and blocked him.
So, we have Kashmiris, who drink alcohol, are homosexuals, and discriminate even people of their religion who are not Kashmiris. But it is Rabail, who is the true spirit of Kashmir, a hope that it would rise for all the snow and spread the fragrance of its beauty. The Beauty lies sleeping, and someday it will awake… 
Kashmir Valley: The Sleeping Beauty Reviewed by Polymath on 10:45 am Rating: 5

7 comments:

  1. It was worth reading. Thankyou.

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  2. it was good and i am waiting for your poem!

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  3. Kinda Like it !! Wanna More !

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