Naseer A Ganai
On a wintery morning, a young teacher wanted to amuse his journalism students in the class. He started recollecting many incidents about the black humor of Kashmiris. This incident took place in Yari Pora village of Kulgam district. He was speaking in a manner as if he was witness to whole drama that unfolded on a pleasant summer morning outside Yaripora in the nineties.
A milkman of the village was on way to his home when he was stopped by troops. They asked him many questions: who he is, where is he going, where has he come from? This was not unusual. Those days every Kashmiri, even if they were not used to speaking Urdu, would practice at home how to answer those “who they are?” questions. Mothers would ensure that their sons would carry their identity cards along. The identity card was the only guarantee of your right to life. And questioning was a routine affair.
Even elders, with long white beard, would answer these questions in half-baked Urdu when they were dragged out in frequent crackdowns and raids. We all were witness to this mass humiliation. Children have seen humiliation of their fathers, and fathers were witness to humiliation of their children.
As the milkman was bombarded with the questions, he started fumbling. He was tense, nervous, and his heartbeat raced. And he had a reason to worry now.
In those times during crackdowns troops would keep a hand on your heart to know the speed of your heartbeat. If they felt the palpitation of heart has increased, it would mean that you are afraid of the situation. And that was an indication that you are the suspect.
Milkman’s mind started recollecting the meaning of milkman in Urdu. And promptly he came up with the Kashmiri translation of Milkman in Urdu.
“Sahab mein gaun ki gori hun,” he said.
The teacher didn’t elaborate on what happened to the Gaun Ki Ghori after the encounter. Instead, he went on to narrate another incident. This time from a village of Bandipora district of North Kashmir.
During a house to house search operation, the troops knocked on the door of a young farmer. He opened the door. Who is inside your house, they asked him. “Sahab, Baap hai, Harkat say hai” replied the farmer. His father had paralysis. The teacher didn’t elaborate this too and went on to narrate another incident. The students laughed.
All of this Kashmiris have forgotten. But what brought these incidents back to our life is the zoi-say-zalim FIR. The zoi-say-zalim FIR also brought back Kashmir to the international headlines (New York Times also carried the report.)
Now it has become a foreign policy issue as well. And really a real challenge for educationists and academics here who have to work hard to replace zoi. It is a daunting task. But given the repercussion of zoi at the State level and its implication at international level, they have to do something and replace it forever with some beautiful alphabet. After all Zoi will not be allowed to sabotage ‘peace’ and ‘tranquility’ of the State, and at the same time it will not be allowed to make Kashmir an international issue again. It is better to replace and bury it deep somewhere in unmarked graveyard so that other alphabets will not even complaint about its sudden disappearance and seek exhumation and DNA test to identify it at any stage.