Friday, September 23, 2011

Not until Justice is Done......

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir is trying every trick in the book to somehow get Kashmiri Pandits back to Kashmir.It would be a welcome gesture if it would not have been wicked.An year before the government announced that it would give jobs to Kashmiri Pandits who wish to return.The applicants were asked to fill a discriminatory bond saying that they are prepared to work in Kashmir under all circumstances and if they dont then their jobs stand annuled.

The Government also formed a committee of its hand picked people who would,I bet you would laugh,represent Kashmiri Pandits.Since most of the people on this commiitee were people of doubtful credibility with no popularity or mandate from the community we all knew where it would head.A group of yes men and some women too was thus formed to facilitate our return to valley.Basically what it meant was that some bread crumbs would be thrown at Pandits and from their concentration camps they would be flown to the idyllic valley.

A slew of measures was also announced.We would be given jobs,money to build houses,a transit camp to live but no justice.We would have to live alongside the same people who raped our women,killed our brothers and sisters,burnt our houses,razed and desecrated our temples.Unsursprisingly the so called Apex Committee concurred ,well not only concurred but even suggested that there is an urgent need for intercommunity dialogue between whom,i bet you will laugh again,between the predator and the prey.One has to be brain dead to even believe that a man whose brother or sister has been killed by a Yasin Malik will go back and live in the next lane in Maisuma where this monster Malik lives.

But since these Apex Committee members were simply his/her masters voice there was little else they could have done but agreed to wilfully let the community be exposed to pack of wolves.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the Pandits will go back to Kashmir but is this how it will happen.What happened to the good old adage that there can be no development unless justice is dispensed?Needless to say that the dummies or figurative heads that Government nominated to the Apex Committee do not represent us.Let it be known that most of the names are not even familiar to Pandits or some of them are so hated in the community that they are simply the agents of the enemy.

Roots in Kashmir is the voice of the young Kashmiri Pandits and the young Pandits want to return to their motherland but not until government acts against the people who killed and raped Pandits.If Omar Abdullah and his tin men the Apex Committee members believe that by throwing bread crumbs at us they will make us follow them then it is time they smell the coffee.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Geelani Farce

The spin doctors told him so and off he went to Vessu to "assure" Pandits who were driven away by his ilk some 22 years back.What he said is here.
Our reply as reported by the media is here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Geelani - Among the Civilised!

There is an interesting take away from the following press report (on Geelani at the recently concluded India Today Conclave) of a gentleman called Arpit Parashar in the Tehelka. It nomenclates Syed Ali Shah Geelani as Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference but prefers to call us as a right wing Kashmiri group.Even by my own godless ways of life and belief in the Nietzschean ideology of a dead god I wouldn’t be apologetic to call Geelani an Islamic Bigot. Look at the inverse logic that our journos including Arpit use.Geelani to them needs no affirmative fixing label irrespective of his regular pronouncements that Kashmir should merge into Pakistan because it is a muslim majority area.That he believes Islam is the glue between Kashmiris and Pakistan obviously isn’t feeding any frenzy at all,right or left.That he got Abdul Ghani Lone killed because Lone had apparently looked towards India for a solution doesn’t set any alarm bells ringing into our friend Arpit or the likes of many such apologists of hate.That Geelani invokes religion (Islam here) to drive mobs and to frenzy is pious and just because we protest against such ideologues of hate is being right wing.

I wouldn’t mind being branded a radical Hindu provided I was one. In 22 years of our exile Kashmiri Pandits have not killed, maimed or even injured one Muslim. They have not brought down,burnt,ransacked or even partially destroyed the properties of any Muslims despite the fact their own houses lie destroyed and their places of worship desecrated.Yet Arpit and likes have a nomenclature for us.

But humko kahein kafir, Allah ki marzi Hain

The idols nomenclate me as the infidel,there must be God’s will in this.

That brings us back to the India Today Conclave. We at Roots in Kashmir do believe that we must be statesmanlike when it comes to finding solutions to issues as vexed as Kashmir. Neither is it our argument not to involve people who differ with our viewpoint on Kashmir.Infact we would welcome every move that would result in a solution to the Kashmir issue. What we all need to decide is whether people like Geelani are or can actually pave the way forward for any kind of solution at all, or are they a part of the problem itself. Before a reputed media organization like India Today decided to call Geelani(unless they wanted to call his bluff, which I do not rule out) to address the conclave don’t they believe that it is necessary to do a basic background check on the man who is a sworn Islamist and known fascist even by the most liberal standards. It is not for nothing that even NDTV calls him a hardliner. Not the first time though has India Today invited a killer of humanity to its Conclave.Earlier in 2008 they had Yasin Malik to address a session on Youth.Yasin Malik is to Geelani what Chemical Ali was to Saddam Hussein.So it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to expect the Burmese dictator or even a Qadafi next year.

If India Today believes that such people could be a part of the solution then either they are too naïve or too conspiring.

Now that he was allowed rather graciously to be a part of the Aroon Puri’s solution to Kashmir let us see what he brought to the table. He looked sheepish from the word go. Clearly this wasn’t his territory.There weren’t many in the crowd albeit some Pakistani diplomats and was Nayeem Khan there too, who would purchase his blood red wares. He was incoherent, gone was his nonchalant way with which he dismisses opponents in Kashmir.The village boy looked clearly like a cat on a hot tin roof that too in a huge city. Obviously he had nothing new to say. He mumbled the usual stuff but had neatly packaged it, though he couldn’t deliver it well. He spoke of “human rights violations” and the” brutality” of the Indian State the same state that paid his medical bills and appealed to the US government to grant him a visa. Haven’t we heard that before? He didn’t explain why it took him a week despite huge public pressure to announce a hartal when two girls in his hometown were recently murdered by forces loyal to His Master’s Voice. He tried to his best evoke some sympathy among his listeners and was getting exasperated by the second because people could see through his spiel.

Though he was the last speaker of the session and thus had the opportunity to reply to Arif Mohammed Khan’s fervent, logical and passionate speech but it seemed Geelani had clearly lost it. Seemed someone had understood the essence of Holy Koran better than Geelani and obviously had more to do with Kashmir’s glorious but pre-islamic or even secular past. He was stumped by Arif Mohammed’s references to Kalhan, Lalleshwari and Nund Rishi.Arif Mohammed had his day.But the worst for Geelani was yet to come.It was left to a young exiled Pandit to tell the audience how his mother wrapped him in a cloth to escape death at the hands of Geelani’s zealots when he was barely nine months old.The more inconvenient question was why Geelani had Abdul Ghani Lone(one of his own Hurriyat members killed). Aditya Raj Kaul had the audience cheering and when Geelani tom tommed the usual conspiracy by Jagmohan it was received by jeers from the crowd.

(Conclave Video - )

It is well known that people with dictatorial tendencies brook no opposition and therefore are not used to civil means. They are at their wits ends when questioned about their ideology or the means that they use to achieve their ends.No one in Kashmir dares ask Geelani such questions. That person would be history. Pity Ghani Loni made that mistake.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mobster Syed Ali Shah Geelani stands exposed at the India Today Conclave

Aditya Raj Kaul, a young journalist and Founder of Roots In Kashmir in the audience, talked about his own experience and accused Geelani of being true only to his "masters" in Pakistan and not even to his own moderate leaders, such as Abdul Gani Lone who was allegedly killed by the Hurriyat hardliners. This happened at Taj Palace Hotel where the India Today Conclave 2011 was taking place.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reh 2011 - Kashmiri Pandit Youth Festival

Be it the chords of music or the cords of emotion, it does create ripples. Far away from home, a new generation of us has grown. Time may have elapsed and distance may have hazed our view but the moment the chords strike and the music begins ,it sets us all swinging, singing and turns back the wheel of times, the valley in us resonates.

On the 13th day of this March we will all sing together, dance together shout aloud til...
l our voice resonates in the valley. As a new generation of Kashmiri musicians change tacks from Chakri to Rock to fusion or the more mellowed form of music, we will sing to the celebration of life in a new way and mark the arrival of the next gen of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Renowned bands like Prithvi, October, young Santoor masteros and the nightingales of the valley will set the stage on fire and illuminate the flame within us. The flame of continuity – Reh as it is aptly called in Kashmiri.

Reh - the flame of eternalness, the flame of warmth and togetherness, the flamer of love and brotherhood, the flame of enlightenment, the flame that keep the young generation of Kashmiri Pandits treading.

Come, lets all celebrate the joy of togetherness, the commonness of our roots, the bond of love.

Lets Rock!!!
Entry by Complimentary Pass only.

To obtain passes contact:

Amal Magazine - 9873900479
Anoop Bhat - 9911543003
Sanjay Peshin - 8527764911

A Roots In Kashmir Initiative

Thursday, January 20, 2011

“Yi chu poore Kashir hyu….”

It is cold in here. It’s chilly enough in April; January is pretty much a lost case. The rain joins in randomly from time to time... October was bright and red. Today is white, with amassed snow. But the rain overshadows it all; it is slushy and gloomy.

Yi chu poore Kashir hyu”, Mumma had said, back when she was visiting.


It is cold in here. You need a strong wind-and-rain-proof jacket outside.

But, indoors, the pheran will do.

The one I’m wearing is my first actual big pheran. At least the first one bought in my name. It has pastel-coloured kadhai on a camel base. I didn’t like the look of it at first, aside from the small matter that it reached right until my ankles. My grandmother, expert tailor that she is, immediately took out a one-inch lad, out in the front. The pheran remains voluminous. I was also sceptical of bringing it here. This is as un-American as it gets. But a week ago, I took the bait of wearing it, feigning élan. It works. People like it and the other smaller pherans I keep on wearing. Though a friend did get curious, seeing me repeatedly wear these ‘traditional clothes’. “Is it by any chance because you hate the West and are making a statement out of it?” I clarified; this was traditional ‘winterwear’. I just like wearing it, I said.

But who knows if I was making a statement out of it? Kashir, and any connection whatsoever with it, has always made me feel special. It is entirely possible that I show it off. Knowingly and unknowingly; before Indians and Americans.

“Where are you from in India?” - standard question anybody mildly interested in you will ask. “Oh! That’s complicated.” “How so?” “Umm…so, I belong to one part, Kashmir; I was born and brought up in another part - a small town in the east called Ranchi, but I live in yet another part – Delhi.” “Oh Delhi!” “Yeah, Delhi.” “That’s so cool!” “Yeah.”

Few understand the ‘belong’ part. You don’t belong to places in America, in general. And certainly not if you have spent a grand total of 9 days in that place.


That fall night, there was a cool breeze, yet it was warm enough to sit outside. My favourite tree in the college courtyard was glowing. It was the tree, for me. In daylight, it was bright orange, shining above the humble green ones and making me smile. That night though, with the lamp shining right below its hood, it looked like it had been set on fire. The moon had long hidden itself; the sky was illuminated.

But the carpet of dried leaves at the bottom of the tree kept on growing, with every gust of the wind. There were beautiful leaves up there – most had a shade of the lightest green at the base changing into the brightest red at the tip - but slowly and surely, the dried ones were falling off.

The moon had long hidden itself; the sky was illuminated, but the tree was undoubtedly dying.

I didn’t understand what to make of it.

Or probably I did.

Then came nausheen. My dark and gloomy Yale suddenly metamorphosed into a white princess. Beautiful is a gross understatement.

People huddled indoors… I went walking out in the snow; I danced, out in the snow. I caught it with my lips…I kissed it, I ate it. Euphoria is a shallow word.

This was way too similar to the first time I had ever seen falling snow. But that was Kashir, right? This was America, for goodness’ sake.

The happiness persisted. It felt like a new dawn.

Perhaps exile begins when you start making new homes, outside home. As someone who values stability zealously, I doubt if I have ever been able to have it truly, or ever will. I left Ranchi midway while growing up; I reached Delhi too old to really grow up there again. Kashir I made up in my mind. None of them belong to me.

This place is different – I haven’t joined it midway; I will not leave it midway. This is real. Nobody can kick me out of here. These four years are mine to make what I want of them. I will belong to them. And they will belong to me, forever.

Above this hard, strong, reality however, I will make my castle in the air.

Because thankfully, castles in the air don’t need roots.

I will keep on thinking that I’m a Kashmiri, much as that Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha kept on thinking that he was a knight errant.

I will speak my language, till I am the last one left to speak it.

I will wear that pheran, with the lad taken out.

I will look at those orange elm trees in the fall as if they were the red chinars of Tulmulla.

I will look at the falling snow as if it were falling in Srinagar.

I will live what I can of my land. My grandmother’s stories and my own eyes have given me enough to do that for a lifetime.

Oh, I know it might be too hard for you to believe it.

Just like it was for the Kashmiri Muslim guy I met at JFK, traveling with his wife and baby.

“Toh chuv Kashir?”
I had asked, imitating Papa, as soon as I heard my tongue in the melee of the airport. He was speechless for a few moments. But his eyes betrayed his disbelief, in me. He couldn’t believe that a Kashmiri-speaking Hindu girl, alone in America, could exist. Let alone the fact that she had asked him if he was a Kashmiri.

Delude yourself. I will live on.

Burn my pheran and call it ‘unfortunate’; I will keep the ashes. Shred it and call it ‘a thing of the past’; I will keep the threads.
Because these aren’t just any threads; they are the same ones that made my parents’ pherans, my grandparents’ pherans, my bhagwanji’s pheran. They are the same threads that root me, that root that burning orange elm tree. The winds will come and go, and winter will approach. But I will be the last leaf. I will burn and never fall.

Let the moon hide itself; the sky will still shine.

- Radhika Koul

Radhika is a freshman at Yale University. She can be reached at radhika(dot)koul(at)gmail(dot)com

Photos courtesy Eun Sung Yang, Yale '14.

"Yi chu poore Kashir hyu" means "This is just like Kashmir."
A pheran is a loose fitting woollen gown, reaching below the knees.
Kadhai is embroidery.
A Lad is a fold made near the bottom of the pheran to reduce the length. The fold was made on the outside among the Hindus and on the inside among the Muslims.
Nausheen is the first day of snow in the winter.
The chinar is an oriental plane tree, big, with maple-like leaves, indigenous to Greece and Turkey but very common in Kashmir.
Tulmulla is a shrine devoted to the Mother Goddess in south Kashmir, held extremely sacred by Kashmiri Hindus.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I did my best to stem the Exodus-Jagmohan

We are not writing the editor's note on this one simply because a word that we may write may be construed as support by the jaundiced eye.

Here is what the ertswhile Governor of J&K has to say on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.

I am deeply dismayed to see that a national daily of the standing of The Indian Express should have given so much prominence (‘Forces, Jagmohan, Mufti Sayeed drove Pandits out: Farooq’s brother’, IE, January 10), to an apparently false allegation of Mustafa Kamal, a politician of little standing, about the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in “early 1990”. Is it believable that practically all the members of a highly intelligent community like that of Kashmiri Pandits would leave, from every village, town and city, their hearths and homes, without caring for their properties, business, children schooling and their future, merely because some one in government asks them to do so? The concoction is writ large on the face of the allegation itself. And yet, shockingly, it has received wide publicity in your newspaper!

Let me tell your readers, on the basis of concrete facts and contemporaneous records, what the conditions were in the Valley before my arrival on the scene on January 19, 1990, and how a permissive and paralysed coalition government, headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah, had virtually abdicated all authority to the militants and allowed them to establish complete sway over the Valley.

From June 19, 1989 to January 19, 1990, that is, in six months, there were 319 violent incidents in the Valley — 21 armed attacks, 114 bomb blasts, 112 arsons and 72 incidents of mob violence. To demonstrate to the whole world their total hold over the Valley, the militants kidnapped, on December 8, Dr Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of the Union home minister, from the gate of Srinagar’s Lal Ded Hospital, and released her only after the state and Central governments capitulated and conceded their demand of freeing five top terrorists. This capitulation left the general public in no doubt about the ultimate victory of the militants. Even the doubting Thomases went over to their side and swelled their ranks.

Under a sinister plan to throw out “infidels” and “agents” of the Union from the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits were especially targeted. Prominent members of the community were picked up for slaughter, one by one. For example, Tikka Lal Tiploo, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was shot dead on September 14, Judge N.K. Ganjoo on November 4 and journalist P.N. Bhatt on December 28.

The terror-stricken Pandit community, in a memorandum dated January 16, 1990, to the then governor, General K.V. Krishna Rao, said: “Instead of the government, it is the militants who are the de facto rulers in the Valley today... Happenings in Anantnag, Sopore, Baramulla, Tral, Nurran, Pulwama, Ishber, Vicharnag, Shopian and other places in the Valley are indicative of the fundamentalists’ designs regarding their planned targets of attack on the minorities... The pace of exodus has further accelerated now... Not even a single assailant of the minority leaders and others has either been identified or apprehended by the police.”

Soon after I took over, I did my best to stem the exodus. This would be clear from the press note of March 7, 1990, which was given wide publicity at that time. This note, inter alia, said: “Jagmohan appealed to the members of the Pandit community who have temporarily migrated to Jammu to return to the Valley. He offered to set up temporary camps at four places, namely, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Kupwara for those who return from Jammu.”

In the meanwhile, treacherous and brutal killings of innocent Kashmiri Pandits continued in the Valley. Those killed included prominent persons like engineer B.K. Ganjoo, poet Sarvanand Premi and his young son Virender Kaul, Professor K.L. Ganjoo and his wife, the teacher C.L. Pandita. Press notices were prominently put out in the widely-read Srinagar dailies Aftab and Alsafa, requiring Kashmiri Pandits to leave within 48 hours, failing which they would run the risk of being exterminated. Photocopies of these notices have been printed by me in my book My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir.

There are many other pieces of hard evidence which show that the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was caused by relentlessly pursuing the ISI-sponsored plan of “killing one and frightening 1,000.” Disinformation was built into this plan. Tragically, for petty political ends, persons like Mustafa Kamal have been committing the crime of disinformation. They have been butchering truth, while the militants have been butchering individuals.

The writer was governor of Jammu and Kashmir between January and May 1990

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Garden of Solitude by Siddhartha Gigoo - An Extract

 To order your copy write to or visit

Book:                The Garden Of Solitude
Author:              Siddhartha Gigoo
ISBN:               978-81-291-1718-2
Binding:            Paperback
Publisher:          Rupa & Co.
Pages:              260
Language:         English
Price:                195

‘Life teaches us that there is beauty in ugliness,’ Sridar said. 

Then Pamposh said something that Sridar was not prepared for. 

‘Every day I lead the life of a centipede. I crawl. I lick. I hide. I sting. I wake up to the fumes of kerosene in the morning and the sting of speeding ants, feeding ravenously on the sugar spilled on the floor of the tent. It feels as if I have never had a morsel of rice for ages. I wake up hungry and go to bed hungry. I lead the life of a centipede, I crawl. All around the camp, there is stench of human excrement and waste. People wake up in the morning, hungry and muddled. The awakenings are pallid. The water in the water tanker smells foul, and children lie whole day in their own vomit. The quivering smile on my mother’s face is false. I want to peel off that false smile from her face, so that she is beautiful once again. Father spends most of the time playing cards with the other migrants near the highway tea shop. I am a mute spectator to the horrors of the life inside my tent. The air inside is squalid. My grandfather barely speaks. He lost his voice while leaving the village. A young man had shown him a gun as he was returning from a butcher’s shop. He still thinks that the young man is hiding around a corner, with a gun, waiting to scare him. He stopped talking after we crossed the Banihal tunnel. I saw him look sadly at the fading mountains for long, till they disappeared completely, one by one, into his frozen dreams. And he swallowed his fright. Today I cannot hear what he says. His words do not come out of his mouth. When we are asleep, we cannot even stretch our arms and legs. There are no hangers to hang our clothes on. No cupboards to keep our personal belongings in. We have no portraits of our gods and goddesses. No pictures of our ancestors. During the day, we hide from the blazing sun. At night we live from one insect bite to another. Centipedes, millipedes and spiders are our companions. We must learn how to live with them.  

‘My grandmother does not recognise the insects. She confuses a lizard for a plastic toy paralysed on the wall. Her gaze is fixed at the crucified lizard. For hours and hours, she just gazes endlessly into a dark nothingness! It is a vacant gaze into a world of oblivion and amnesia. Petrified with a sense of desolation, she does not even feel the presence of hundreds of mosquitoes circling her head constantly, while she stares into blank space. I do not know if she is hungry or thirsty. When asleep, she resembles a corpse. She perspires. I wake up to feel her pulse and feel happy that she is still breathing. She would be happy in her death, I pray. My mother and sister wash their clothes and the utensils in a puddle of water outside our tent. They line up for hours in the morning to use the makeshift toilet made of torn shreds of canvas, pieces of cardboard and tin. They await their turn at the filthy and stinking toilets while the loitering men watch the women wait to relieve themselves. Many women prefer to go to the stinking latrines at midnight, away from the stare of men. Even the mosquitoes keep away from the foul smelling latrines. Sometimes, I hear women shriek, fall silent and then cry in solace behind the filthy tank. The nights bring squalor, pallor and heat. We live in fear of the mangled and naked electric wires, crisscrossed around wooden poles that hold the canvas of the tent together. 

‘There is a large rash on my grandfather’s leg, a rash perhaps from the bite of a millipede. The rash has swollen and become a sore now. It oozes puss and resembles a horrifying wound. He scratches the wound with a knife. The festering wound will never heal. I want to burn the wound. The old man looks at my sister change clothes at bedtime. She puts out the light. There are no curtains to hide behind. She sleeps in snatches, sandwiched like an insect between her mother and her grandmother. She dreams nervy dreams of crawling insects in the sun and the shade. The old man wants to touch her clothes hanging from the hook. He smells the clothes of his own granddaughter. And he relishes their putrid smell. We lick the hours that weigh heavy on our half-asleep existence, and tread laboriously into an endless strain of nightmares. The earthen pot in the tent is empty. A discarded plastic bottle used for the toilet contains a few drops of water. I grab it and empty the drops into my parched mouth. My tongue is dry. It can fall off anytime. My grandmother shrieks when she sees the sun. She dreads stepping out of the tent for fear of fainting in the sun. She soils her clothes every day. She can’t even use the bedpan which my mother got for her. From morning to evening she clings to the old box, which she brought along. It sticks inseparably to her chest. I wonder if there are any ornaments or valuables left in it. 

‘Never before have I felt the desire to unknow myself and others. The smell . . . the touch . . . . the breath . . . the sigh! 

‘In an adjacent tent a family of five torture an old man, their foster-grandfather, who lost his mental balance upon seeing his house fade away in a hazy distance. The old man is a burden for his son and daughter-in-law. Another mouth to feed, they feel! He moans at night constantly, and intermittently wakes up to a cold shiver - a nightmare. His son and daughter-in-law taunt him for their amusement. They whisper in his ears that his mother was dead and that she was beaten mercilessly to death. The old man groans and pleads them not to utter the atrocities. Every evening, the torment continues. The maddening laughter of the men ricochets from the tattered canvas tent. Every night the old man cries. He gapes at his son and daughter-in-law and gives them his blessings. 

‘Darkness! Darkness! 

‘I wonder what is moral and what is immoral.’

Sridar stopped breathing for a while as Pamposh described his experience and condition. He picked up Pamposh’s pack of cheap cigarettes. For the first time, he lit a cigarette and took a puff. The smoke danced its way into the air and disappeared in the whirl of the ceiling fan. 

That day Sridar wrote his thoughts in his journal. He wrote about Pamposh and the horrid mine of his consciousness. 

‘What would it be like to be Pamposh?’ Sridar mused. He remembered the last words Pamposh had told him the previous day. ‘I long for a child’s laughter,’ Pamposh had whispered in Sridar’s ear.

Pamposh never spoke of his days in Kashmir. Sridar tried to strike such conversations with him to get to know about Pamposh’s childhood days in his village in Kashmir. Pamposh’s family came from a village in Kashmir. Some students in the camp told Sridar that Pamposh’s family owned an orchard in Kashmir and grew pomegranates, cherries and walnuts. Pamposh’s childhood may have been full of pranks, Sridar thought. Someone mentioned that Pamposh’s family was the only Pandit family in their village, and that they had to run away from their home in the most horrifying of circumstances. No one was able to narrate what had happened. Pamposh had lost one home and he was not in search of another. 

The migrants sat all day long on a rocky mound and discussed the affairs of their community. Days were spent sitting and talking about whatever came to their minds; their plight and their sordid condition. Waiting kept them busy. For many it was a lacerating wait. They had not yet realised that this waiting was not to end. They did not know what they were waiting for. This waiting was not for returning to their homes, not for peace in the Valley, but for a new day to dawn and the new evening to descend. They prayed for a day without a sunstroke and a night without a snakebite.

Pamposh met Sridar every day after school near an anthill. He wished to demolish the anthill with a spade and to render the snakes homeless, so that no snakebites would take place in the camp. 

There was only one question to be asked during the funeral processions that left the camp every day. 

‘Snakebite or sunstroke?’

In the coming days Sridar and Pamposh saw many camp dwellers line up, one by one, in the crematorium. Between them breathed words bereft of any meaning! Words! Silence! .....................................


The author Siddhartha Gigoo can be reached at