Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Until My Freedom Has Come

Currently reading Until My Freedom Has Come, a collection of essays and personal accounts of the summer of 2010 in Kashmir, edited by Sanjay Kak. Most of the writers either grew up there and currently live elsewhere, or still continue to live and work there. However, there is an acute sense that most of the writing emerges from a distance engendered in the writers' minds because of their dislocation from the epicentre of violence and dissonance that is their original homeland. Last summer was a particularly volatile period in the history of the valley, which has, for the last three decades, been overpowered by a helpless civic and political breakdown. The discovery of the bodies of three civilians shot in a false "encounter" killing in Machil - purportedly buried in an unmarked grave by paramilitary soldiers, who sought to win some monetary reward by passing their bodies off as the bodies of militants - sparked off large-scale protests, where further violence and the shooting of unarmed protesters led to protests, strikes, more violence and the use of greater military force against the restive populace. The book is written by a generation of writers who have grown up against the backdrop of a militarily "occupied" Kashmir, and their stories are brutal. There is so much hope in their writing, it makes one not wonder but shudder at the status quo.

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