How do you place yourself in a situation when your oppressor comes with all guns blazing to make you forget your history and erase all the memories and shape you in an altogether different individual with no memories of what you are and have been doing to exist in an overwhelmingly abnormal situation?
Defenceless and isolated, you keep going without any surrender by what Agha Shahid calls as, “My memory keeps getting in the way of your history”. Memory my dear friends remains the sole tool to resist the onslaught on your glorious past and never lets you forget what you have been going through all your lives.
Recently, India’s occupational authorities jailed a renowned research scholar for his magazine article which he had written In 2011, a year after the disputed region witnessed a mass uprising against Indian rule in which over a hundred people mostly young teenager’s were martyred. So, what exactly was so rebellious written in an article written a decade back that forced our tormentor to revisit it and put the author behind bars?! And do this action of jailing a writer validate the school of thought that believes ‘writing back to empire’ under such searing atmosphere becomes indispensable to sustain your struggle for justice?
When you go through the article, what you find is the reaffirmation of the unshakable belief in freedom, Azadi. The author warns us against the disease of forgetfulness and appeals us to remember the sacrifices given to attain our goal of Independence. He writes:
“Let us build the memorial walls, in which the names of our martyrs are inscribed. Let us institutionalize their memories in our daily lives. These memorials will become an instrument of our strength, solidarity, remembrance, and motivation for future”
Agha Shahid Ali in his poem Farewell gives us an idea of how our memory is a tool of resistance against the efforts of our colonizer to wipe out the memories of what we are and what we have to do! In a place like kashmir, the most militarized zone in the world, it becomes important to never forget our wounds, our history, resistance, and our oppressor who wants us to become some passive beings with idea of our past and the fact of us being slaves and steps that this fact demands to come out of it. And we remember all of this as our jailed writer says:
“We remember the killings of two and a half lakh Muslims of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi in 1947. We remember the killings of fifteen hundred people in 1953. We remember the killings and incarcerations of thousands of people, especially those of Poonch and Rajouri from 1965 to 1989. We remember killings of more than 1 lakh people since 1989 till 2010. We remember the molestations and rapes committed on thousands of our daughters. We remember those ten thousand people who have been subjected to enforced disappearance. We remember the bones and bodies of our men discovered in thousands of unmarked and mass graves. We remember the arrests and detentions of thousands of Kashmiri people. We remember the worst forms of tortures and humiliations being inflicted on us by Indian troopers. We remember and we shall never forget all this”
We are not alone in this. The lessons that our scholars persistently try to teach us is something we should stick to. “Forgetting is a luxury oppressed cannot afford” was always the caption on our placard that we raised high during our processions against injustice in our university under the sacred guidance of such scholars. They have shown us the path of dignity and honour and shall all follow them come what may.
Freedom. Dear friends, the shackles of slavery will break and we shall see the dawn of freedom for which our scholars traded bullets only to let us have free and better tomorrow’s. We remember them all!
Are you traversing “alone” through the path of thorns and Shackles to the altar and Alps of Freedom? Nay,
You are not alone!
“How am I to get there?” Reason answers: “here is one way, and one only. Down the banks of Labour, through the water of suffering. There is no other.”
The woman cries out: “For what do I go to this far land which no one has ever reached? Oh, I am alone! I am utterly alone!”
But soon she hears the sounds of feet, ‘a thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, and they beat this way!’
“They are the feet of those who shall follow you. Lead on.
And the Caravan of unflinching sacrifices has been and will remain, unhesitatingly, moving on and on until it smells the musk of Freedom