Strings Without Music

Strings Without Music

The musical instruments are mouldy. It’s been a long time since someone had a song in their heart to sing. The six strings of Rabab stare at me from a distance. A distance that pierces through me like a shard of nostalgia causing an unusual ache remembering a place that is my HOME.

My friends tell me to think about happy things. That we only live once. YOLO, right?! The urban dictionaries do not have abbreviations for the phenomenon of experiencing many deaths and the struggle to feel alive. Look into the eyes of my people from Kashmir and you will understand what it means.

I see a beautiful memory sailing in the boat moving across Dal. I remember how the grounds cracked under the autumn leaves this fall. Memories are a double edged sword. The boat sinks along with the song in my heart.

Our pain is beyond the reach of any poetry or prose. Yet we still give you the waters of Jhelum to wash the blood off your hands. We give you our pashmina to add a layer of warmth over your cold heartedness. You give us your misunderstandings and we return to you bouquets of tulips. You divide us into muslims and pandits while our mothers teach us about Kashmiriyat.

Lives have been lost. Whose war is it anyway? I have seen women beating their chests. Are they mourning the deaths of their men – their husbands and sons? Or are they trying to harden their hearts to numb their perpetual pains?

I hear a grandmother’s bedtime story to her grandchildren. “Ours is a beautiful valley. People come here and fall in love. We are the guardians and the gardeners of this valley. Make sure everyday you sow seeds of love, peace and hope.” Somewhere outside a gun fires. The grandmothers wipes away her tears that involuntarily fall from her eyes.

A gentle breeze touches my faces. I close my eyes and think about the Rabab again. A distance separates us from peace. My fingers caress the six waiting strings.

I hum a tune in my head “we will break this distance and return to the valley of love again/our hopes may lie wounded but our love will blossom from our pains/a single drop of tear is enough to agitate the fires in our heart/but under the scarlet heat of the sun we will first pray for peace to rain/“

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