As the daughter of an ordinary working class family in the Indian occupied valley of Kashmir, my wonderful and inspiring friend Maheen, worked hard to win a scholarship and come study politics and economics in the US. Her mother is her hero and against all odds, has been her greatest supporter.
As the tremors of warfare begin to resurface in the subcontinent, here she gives us a view of what an impending war between India and Pakistan could mean for families like hers living in the middle ground that is Kashmir.
The past couple weeks have been tough to say the least. And the next few don’t seem much better either.
My heart had to carry the weight of words that I never imagined it capable of handling. This is what my mother said to me –
“Maheen, listen carefully, no matter what happens, no matter what, you will continue your education and focus on working towards your dreams and aspirations. You will not stop if anything happens. No one has seen the future and Allah is everyone’s protector, but bad things happen sometimes and one has to carry on.”
I didn’t know how to respond. Both of my siblings are also studying outside Kashmir and I knew she must have said the same thing to them too. My Mother had just implied very clearly, the possibility of a war breaking out. Who knows what is left after a war, if anything at all?
I doubt many of you have felt the weight of such heavy words, it is soul crushing, especially coming from someone who you love the most in this entire world.
I still don’t think I have processed my mother’s words and with a literal heartache I have been fearfully following the news in anticipation of what might happen. I feel guilty for being away, in safety, far from my loved ones and Kashmir. How unfortunate that I have to feel guilty merely for feeling safe. The bar has been set too low.
As the ugly war clouds loomed over the subcontinent, the entire world seemed to wake up to this war that had left the confines of my beloved Kashmir and was encroaching over the safe spaces of others who generally watched such spectacles from afar.
Kashmir was yet again out of the discussion as it became about preventing a “war.” But I want to remind everyone – that it is my home that has been the battle ground all along and even if this war is evaded, my home will continue to be a battle ground unless a proper solution is arrived at. In Kashmir we live war everyday.
Right now, the political theater continues; ‘constitution’ is being ‘re-written’ to strip us of what little we have. And while Bollywood producers rush to create yet another distorted, romanticized and commercial narrative of our story, we, Kashmiris, will continue to do what we do the best, RESIST.
The purpose of writing this post is to sensitize people around the world to what Kashmiris live through everyday. I do not want any sympathy and definitely don’t patronize me or other Kashmiris. We are resilient people who are working to find our justice and will keep doing so till our last breath.
A common Kashmiri.
Thank you so much Maheen for sharing your words with us.
Maheen Akram is Currently pursuing a double major in Economics and Political Science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. At Wellesley , she is involved in Human Rights advocacy and raising awareness on issues around the world. She has done multiple fundraisers for Kashmir, Rohingya and Syria.
Upon Graduation, Maheen wishes to return home to Kashmir and work for the social and economic development there.