An article titled "Promised Land, Cursed People" by a former boot-licking brown-nosing career bureaucrat – who post-retirement is striving to turn himself into a self-styled champion of Kashmir and Kashmiriyat – shook me out of my state of inertia.
In an article desperately trying to prove that Kashmiris were originally Jews/Israelites, he takes perverse pleaure in reprising vicious attacks made on the Kashmiri character by a number of foreign writers of yesteryears.
According to this gentleman, Moorcroft, Hugel, Drew, and Barnes describe Kashmiris as “selfish, superstitious, ignorant, supple, intriguing, dishonest, false-tongued, ready with a lie, and given to various forms of deceit.”
He also quotes some comments from the one man that gave the common Kashmiri a fair deal – Walter R. Lawrence, who came to Kashmir as the Settlement Commissioner during Pratap Singh's rule. "Laren Sahib" is still fondly remembered in villages across Kashmir. P. N Bamzai remarks about Lawrence that “his land settlement in the State marks a turning point in the economic and social history of its people.”
Curiously though, Lawrence himself checkmates the author:
"many of the hard things said about the Kashmiris are due to the fact that the official interpreters of their character have been foreigners, often grasping and corrupt."
I fail to understand why the article required the grafting of unsavoury comments made in previous centuries onto the character of the people of modern Kashmir. The author concludes that Kashmiris have God’s curse on them and that somehow we deserve it !
Why should we be apologetic or ashamed of who we are?
We Are Kashmiris
And We Are Proud Of It !
Kuchh Baat Hai Ke Hasti Mit Ti Nahin Hamari,
Sadiyon Raha Hai Dushman Daur-E-Zaman Hamara
Allama Iqbal could have penned these words equally aptly for the resilient spirit of Kashmir.
He was echoing Lal Ded's assertions of our historical identity and individuality.
Assi aess, assi aasav
'We have been and We shall be'
'My Existence Is My Resistance'
Thus beats every Kashmiri heart.
If you start to get seriously worried about the way things are shaping up, it is Iqbal who infuses hope yet again:
Jis Khaak Ke Zameer Main Ho Aatish-E-Chinar,
Mumkin Nahin Ke Sard Ho Wo Khaak-E-Arjumand
(The dust that carries in its conscience the fire of the Chinar,
It is impossible for that celestial dust to cool down)
An internet-sourced couplet that remarkably sums up our resilience and eternal search for …well…something…
Lafzon Mein Fasaane Dhoondte Hain Hum Log,
Lamhon Mein Zamaane Dhoondte Hain Hum Log,
Tu Zeher Hi De, Sharaab Keh Kar Saqi,
Jeene Ke Bahaane Dhoondte Hai Hum Log.
Take that, O Cruel Saqi !
P. N Bamzai – Culture and Political History of Kashmir (1994)
Walter R. Lawrence – The Valley of Kashmir (1895)