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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Stranger to My Home and History - by Raju Moza

My emotional response to the distortion of the facts before the onset of Insurgency in Kashmir, and how I feel when someone extends the ‘invitation’ to visit Kashmir. 

Every time someone ‘invites’ me to Kashmir, an excruciating feeling emanates within me. Invite from ‘home’...? I respect all those friends of mine who invite me; they genuinely extend the invite with no intention to provoke, ridicule or insinuate. It is not that I am rude to their hospitality... just that I am unable to come to the terms with the invitation from someone to my own home...   

Mere mention of the word ‘Kashmir and you are cordially invited’ evokes a tumultuous response... Thoughts become stagnant and memories jostle, occupy all the space available...

I have reconciled with so many things vis-à-vis Kashmir, but two aspects remain elusive to reconciliation: One, the irony of being invited to your own home, and two, how various stakeholders distort the pre-1989 history of Kashmir.

My words transcend to our days in Kashmir when all the present day clichéd neologisms like Occupation, UN resolution, rigged elections, Azaadi, seven exoduses, 'reh nahi rahe the, seh rahe the' ('We were not living; we were suffering' - a narrative of some Kashmiri Pandits on how they lived in Kashmir before 1989), etc. were conspicuous by their absence. For us, Kashmir was not only bestowed with nature, but had a unique peaceful and contented way of life. Like any childhood, it was a time of fun and frolic, 'Polka' brand of ice-cream, Enn Koul Public School (my school in Srinagar), cycling, playing cricket at our Muslim neighbour's aangun (Kashmiri for 'courtyard') without their prior permission. 

One born later cannot today imagine what Kashmir was before 1989...1989 being the awful year when Insurgency started. If we were to share our experiences with the new generation, who were born post-1989, they will think of them as if they are fairy tales. 

Unfortunately, both the communities Kashmiri Pandits as well as Muslims are trying to distort the history prior to 1989 in sync with their political objectives. In this misappropriation of narratives, the worst victims are my memories. I feel helpless at the distortion of my memories as they have been lived and I have relished those times. Those who are distorting this history should realise that they may revise history on paper, but they cannot obliterate living memories. How my land must be reacting to such appropriations, where everyone is trying to push their own narratives, history, past, and off course future as well! It must be painful for Kashmir. Painful.
My home in Srinagar

This picture is of my home in Kashmir. With such strong memories having occupied the major portion of my memories, the response to the invitation is bound to stir up my memories and images move fast forward at high speed to the unfortunate day of our exodus. Our exodus: day of grief. At least this event should have been left untouched by those who are hell-bent upon distortion of history. Alas, they ascribe a conspiracy to this as well. No, it was not a planned event; it was perceived at that time as a short exodus for saving life and limb, an exodus which unfortunately has prolonged beyond expectations. And protraction has now converted itself into perpetuity (my personal belief). Due to ongoing conflict and violence, my Kashmir has metamorphosed in thoughts, in outlook, in narratives, in nuisances, in several other aspects. 

Perhaps I, longing for a return back home, should construe this invitation from ‘New Kashmir’ as an invitation to see how I have changed and what has been inflicted and thrust upon me. I have no other choice but to accept the invitation, and visit this New Kashmir   albeit as a visitor, an observer or even as a stranger... 

© Raju Moza

The author is a Delhi-based business professional and occasional writer. Can be contacted at rajumoza@gmail.com or tweet him @rajumoza


  1. i salute your honesty raju. i firmly believe it is the best way to live with the reality. possible. though I did not go through the pains of exodus that you and your likes did ( my family had already left srinagar due to personal conflicts in the family, but i spent many school summer vacations in the valley at my grandparents, aunts and uncles houses and have very similar experiences as you mention)i totally understand and feel the pain at being invited to your own home. this should make the ones who invite us, reflect upon what they are saying and doing.i too feel that we did not have such thoughts earlier, as some express them now. we were all happy together, may be some very few with (nefarious)connections to pakistan were feeling different. hence do visit this land, even if you feel strange being invited to your own homeland by others.and share your experiences with us.

  2. Very well written and so true. Had the same feeling when i visited kashmir couple of months back.being just a 10 yr old when we were forced to leave our paradise, kashmir looked different than what it was in my memories.but yes couldnt stop my tears, it was overwhelming to be home.

  3. Well written with honest feeling. The write up has infused nostalgic feeligs about my earlier days in Kashmir.

  4. It is an honest piece. For me who has spent most of my summers in Kashmir the nostalgia when I visited Kashmir in 2011 after 24 summers was all consuming. I can well imagine the pain of actual inhabitants who were forced to leave their home and hearth and practically on a limb to start life anew. It is quite a monumental task to reconcile. Nevertheless, I urge u to go to Kashmir and banish ur bitterness once and for all, cause when u go with a clean heart, it washes away the pain to a large extent. However the pain will not be entirely wished away and tears will well up seeing many familiar sights, sounds and fragrances that were lost.