Kashmir: The ‘menopause’ in Tral forest

She was an air-hostess. On March 21, this year, Malaysian Airlines MH -370 landed in Yemburzal , Indian-controlled Kashmir. She closed her eyes. Her little red nose involuntarily smelling spring and accomplishment of her mission simultaneously. FLK (Force for Liberation of Kashmir) had done it. Though the motive of hijack corresponded with name of organization itself, I was still confused. She had recruited me. She was not a feminist. She was a slave. She was raped in Kunan-Poshpora. She was killed in Shupian. She was tortured in Sopore. She was a stone-hurler. She was no activist. She was no poet. She wrote no obituaries.  She wrote no blogs. She wrote for herself. She wrote for her own memory. She didn’t hide in victimhood. She died. She was born. She didn’t claim to be a sister of revolution. She was a revolution. 


I met her in the jungles of Tral. I met her but she didn’t. I was hired. Sorry! Kidnapped to treat her. I was a doctor. I was a bookworm. I had read 99 books in last two years  of my medical degree. I was ignorant and ignorance is no curse. She was unconscious. She remembered me of the cotton candy that would melt in my mouth in childhood. I had renamed the candy Afsoos Mithai (Regret candy) as it just disappeared in my mouth leaving me regretting and wanting. It was paradoxical though to resist the temptation of having it and then to regret. I didn’t want to touch her as if she would melt like the Afsoos Mithai, and disappear forever leaving me regretful. I couldn’t resist either.  For I hadn’t taken Hippocratic oath, I would spend rest of my life gazing at her. I had never seen a more beautiful creature or a thing or a place like her. She wasn’t created by God himself. God wouldn’t indeed create something that would derail faith of his people. God is kind enough. I believe God. I believe in God’s mercy. But I believe in God’s wrath too. She was perhaps the wrath. She was my hundredth book but she was my first love and there is nothing like a second love. Second love is a vicious construction of people who fail in love. Love is no menstrual cycle to repeat itself each month. It is a menopause and I had mine in the jungles of Tral.


She had high fever and I had to give her an injection of Paracetamol. My hands shivered. I was sweating. I was here to cure someone. I was now a patient. The needle of an injection never felt so cruel to me. The piston of injection felt like trigger of a gun. Gun – that she had picked and I hadn’t. She had decided to fight and die. I had decided to read, suffocate and die. She was as they call them a guerrilla commander. She killed me without firing a bullet. I cured her in a week. She thanked me. I thanked myself. I was recruited as a doctor in FLK. I was doing it for her. She taught me resistance. She taught me life. Resistance isn’t taught in virtual classrooms. It is practiced in battlefields.


Last year, on June 24, she had a mission in Hyderpora Srinagar and then she disappeared. I kept waiting for her. I did everything she told me. I hugged all the trees that she once sat by. I drank from every stream that she once had. I kissed every bullet that she gave me to fight. I began to write graffiti on tree trunks, with her name on the arrow piercing my heart, increasing its chambers, making it six chambered and each chamber beating louder with the cries of her name overlapping the slogans of Azaadi and then synchronizing and becoming synonymous.


On March 20, this year, we were asked to wait at Yaemburzal. She came with the plane next day. She  got herself a job in the airlines as air-hostess. She had hijacked it. I saw her after months. She was cold. She didn’t smile. She couldn’t even if she wished. She was a guerrilla. She was no air-hostess.


(Umair Gul is a PhD student at Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.)