Once I asked a young boy with a slant face, “what is that you wish for?”. He answered with a faint smile, “to live in this serene landscape where ‘Kashmiriyat’ is celebrated.”

The idea of ‘Kashmiriyat’ entails communal harmony where everyone treats fellow humans as their own and the idea of oneness is revered. This very sentence reflected his upbringing and the environment he dwells in. In my next question, I asked, “What makes you believe this?” and found an answer which highlighted the compassion and empathy, all entangled together. But the series of events over the years was a testimony to the indelible fact that vile forces have penetrated into this scintillating piece of heaven. It is this diabolical entity that has infused venom into the minds of the gullible and polluted the pool of ‘Kashmiriyat’. Every child in Kashmir yearns to bring back those days, and by days one means the era, the era of prosperity, love, brotherhood and happiness. This era looms in the minds of the people like a simmering phantasmagoria. But to him, it is a visceral understanding of what he has heard from his parents. But I should say the dream is floating like a piece of thread swaying in the breeze waiting to settle down. If you speak to a Kashmiri, he will talk about the goodwill that flourished in Kashmir once upon a time.

I asked him how old he is and he said he is seventeen. I thought he spoke quite maturely for his age. Out of curiosity, I enquired,” what will happen now?”. He replied with the conviction of a scholar, “The inimical forces trying to obliterate this peace will never be forgiven by the people nor the world”. Mothers who lost their sons, fathers whose dreams got shattered in a flash, the countless sisters who miss their brothers will now pave the way for the Kashmir of my dreams. He knew that good times are not far away. I felt his words resonating the truth that Kashmir will emerge from the ashes like a phoenix ready to fly high and merge in the clouds. These are the hearts where ‘Kashmiriyat’ flows abundant like a stream gushing through this valley. He narrated to me the story he heard from the elders in his village about their youth when they strolled among the lush green meadows with the sun shining on their face, fearless, unstoppable. But misfortunes of life have crushed them. Yet, they hold on to the hope of strolling again in those meadows like the west wind.

He was growing restless talking to me, so I asked him one last question “Will your dream ever come true?”. His reply astounded me, “Yes! my dream will come true, when everyone will think like a child whose heart overflows with Kashmiriyat, when everyone will think like the mother who lost her son, like the father with unfulfilled dreams, like the elders who want to stroll among the meadows”. The time has come for Kashmir to rise up from the embers of a by gone era. The people have to raise their voice against the corrupt practices.

Decision makers have to keep in mind the dreams and work with zing to differentiate the marauders once and for all. The youth should rise up and make their voices heard. I left the place spell-bounded praying that one day his dream would come true.

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