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Monday, 29 October 2012

Portrait of a Pied Piper - by Sualeh Keen

It so often happens that vanity makes men commit an endless chain of blunders to justify the original mistake, maintain an ever-increasing account of the first miscalculation and sink more funds into a doomed enterprise called Greater Kashmir in the hope that it would all make sense when things turn around. If that time comes, then Basic Stupidity will become Original Foresight. Then even the non-believers and Doubting Thomases would laud him, and say, “Wow! What perseverance! What self-belief! Against all odds and all logic did you profit from Free-doom!”

So, under no circumstances must the drawn dagger be withdrawn lest the Herder look unsure of himself or a sell-out. In any case, he has no chance of ever getting elected through a democratic process. So he must not only stick with the original foolhardy plan, he must also get everybody to rally round it. “Judge an action by the effect it has,” or, in other words, the end justifies the meanness. Such lengths do power-hungry people go to satisfy their ideologies and ambitions.

As we all know, many sheep were slaughtered at the altar-abattoir of Greater Kashmir that makes us less of people and more of a dispensable commodity in the form of a revolting picture in a journal that earns brand equity for the Herder’s enterprise. There is always a casual approach to casualties (unless the dead person is an unarmed youth, over which a great uproar can be created). That thousands of armed youth from Kashmir perished is not just accepted but expected and demanded, for they receive salaries towards that end and are doing it for Mother Kashmir, religious and/or regional identity and lack of other employment or all of the above. In any case, on any day in any age, a Just Cause is greater than the individual, and Freedom is forfeiture of individual opinion that goes against the herd response.

What is this freedom really? True freedom resides only at the feet of the Herder, whoever He may be, and true happiness resides in living in His mortal terror, however frightening that may be. So what if the common people resent this compulsory mortification, these daily hartaals and curfews and protests and killing shilling… this uncertainty? The self-styled Herder knows what is good for the sheep; nay, what is good for animal kingdom.

How can one even think of giving up freedom struggle? The deaths of Kashmiri youths must not be wasted and the sacrifices they made to kill others and their own people and eventually themselves must never be forgotten. And if a detractor like some crazy skeptic criticizes the pointless campaigns, the grudging mothers of the martyrs must be brought forth. The weeping wenches should be used as eyewash to make the war seem necessary, when they are its worst victims.

“Did her son die for nothing?”

Nobody has the heart to tell the bereaved mother, “Yes, indeedy, verily, most certainly, such was the case. Sorry, but what a waste it was.” For the foot soldier of the Herder is also his victim and the Salvation Army of Sheep is the Wolfish Army of Destruction; to hell with the law of causation, to heaven with casualties. Does Kashmir need more grieving mothers like them?

We are an emotional people, always on the verge of self-destruction. With help from ghoulish journalists who keep filling us with rage, we let our wounds fester. So, we tell the mother this instead: “You should be proud of your son, who died for a worthy Cause.” And then we tell others: “Fight! Fight for Mother Kashmir! Be a worthy son and die young!”

And if more sons of the soil were to wither to increase the stock of the blood already gone down the drain, so be it. The Salvation Army must bravely face all obstacles, especially obstacles of the logical kind. What if the world is lost for good for a good Cause? This world is a fantasy anyway. Listen ye women, do not grieve for your sons. All mothers should become the mothers of the nation by throwing their sons into the mouth of death.

Buddha, an atheist, had said something like: “It is not death, but attachment that is the cause of all unhappiness.” Herders reinterpret it as: “Do not get attached, do not love your sons and mothers. Do not love people; love your Mother Land, you MF, and die and be happy forever.”

What if, after forty years of Wilderness Wandering, the Herder’s dream comes true and the sheep somehow reach a country called Promised Land (though it will look nothing like what was promised and will already be inhabited)? The incumbents and the aboriginals will be sent to the gallows, along with the odd skeptic who did not toe the hard-line. There will be a coup d’etat, a change of guards, a shuffle of characters, and the introduction of new elite. The exciting times will give people enough material to gossip about for years to come. History will be rewritten and the Herder would attain prophetic proportions. The sheep will bleat happily forever... until next time.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For the time being, 1947 will be the year of Greater Kashmir. As for the Fallen of 1931, too bad they will not get resurrected in Fool's Paradise. But yeah, the Martyr’s Graveyard will become a tourist attraction. Flower shops will open up in the vicinity. Not too far away will loom the Herder’s white palace, made of the pure ivory of human bones and guarded by demons. Once a year, the Herder will step out of his palace and place flowers on the graves, and say, “Thank you.”

Will history repeat itself?

Sure it will. There is no dearth of fools in any age.

© Sualeh Keen

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