Descant is a word that is defined by the dictionary as “a discourse on a theme”. Given this meaning, what would be the descant of Kashmir? I would stick my neck out and posit that contemporary Kashmir is defined by the “descant of sadness and sorrow”. I am not a psychoanalyst but I know enough about the discipline to be self aware to a large extent. By this what I mean is that I am not guilty of deluding myself and projecting my psychic and emotional condition and projecting it onto the peoples of Kashmir. By and large, a thick and heavy pall of sadness and sorrow hangs over Kashmir and its peoples. It is as if, nature itself is lamenting and ululating on Kashmir’s condition. I wish I were a poet and write lyrics that would capture the essence of Kashmir’s condition. But, alas, I am not one. Prose is my specialty (somewhat) and prose is what will come to my aid to dwell on the Kashmir condition.
Kashmir is, as I write, at what I have called elsewhere, an “inflection point”. An inflection point is a point on a curve at which the curve changes from being concave to convex or vice versa. In prosaic terms in the jargon of business, an inflection point is a turning point or a point at which significant change occurs(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/inflection_point) . The reasons why Kashmir is at an inflection point accrue from a set of interrelated points and forces. These are political, economic, social, psycho-emotional, psycho-social and historical. In combination, these determine the nature of Kashmir’s contemporary condition. What undergirds these forces or the foundational theme that lends these forces potency and saliency is the conflict in and over Kashmir and the sub and super structure of politics that it has spawned. Yes, this is a hackneyed and clichéd assertion but it is the truth and the “ objective” reality of Kashmir.
Broken down, this “objective” reality means that the peoples of Kashmir are trapped in a crucible of suffering that is not of their making. A cursory perusal of Kashmir’s history reveals that its peoples have been objects of history where they have been victims. ( I may be critiqued here and it may be pointed out that I am harping on a typical meme of Kashmiri victimhood. My response would be: Yes, I am and why not? History has not been kind to me. I have, as a Kashmiri, been its victim).
The sad irony is that vast impersonal personal forces of competing and clashing sovereignties, so called national interests, territorial nationalisms and other powerful abstractions have collude or, it would seem, conspired with forces of personal ambition, quest for power and even opportunism to render Kashmir what it is today.
On a personal note, I tried to flee and escape these forces and memes. But, after wandering around half of the world, here I am , again in Kashmir and of Kashmir. I was taken out of Kashmir but Kashmir was never taken from me. Time and again, Kashmir exerted a magnetic pull on me and I , despite my attempts to escape, the place was of me and I was of it. The analytically minded might point out that I am waxing lyrical and my prose is “too flowery”. I would plead guilty as charged. Reams of analyses have been written on Kashmir and its problems but what has been the end result? Nothing but validation and revalidation of the Kashmir Curse.
What then is the point of this particular piece of writing?
My answer is that this writing is in the nature of an attempt at catharsis- that is , the process of releasing and seeking respite from powerful, repressed feelings. But, alas, this attempt will constitute a mere attempt or, at best, the effect will be ephemeral. The reasons are both prosaic and profound. I cannot and should not expect that I would be healed- emotionally and psychically- till my compatriots get healed and released from these feelings too. This is the pathos and bathos of Kashmir. No individual can really escape Kashmir- no matter how hard , he or she tries. The omnipresence of Kashmir’s pathos and pathos stalks every Kashmiri like a shadow. There is really no escape from it. Sad then are Kashmir’s lyrics. Will, the question is, these lyrics ever turn into a melody? Hope, as they say, rests eternal in the human heart.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org