As the dusk falls deep into the Valley, the azaan of at least a hundred muezzins rises across the fading twilight, ricocheting against the walls of the Himalayas and echoing off each other, till entire Srinagar , right up to the sunset skies is filled with a surreal crescendo, a concerted symphony that belongs to some faraway time.
In many ways time has stood still at Kashmir. It’s an arrested beauty. Fractured, yet full of fortitude. Ravaged by dissent, yet retaining an elegant eloquence. Fragile, yet summoning up a rare grace, as the sun’s rays slant across its snow peaks, and the mist covers its bruises like a blanket on a child who has silently cried himself to sleep. Kashmir is still stunning, hauntingly so, inspite of everything that’s happened to it.
No words or pictures can do justice to the experience of Kashmir. It’s roohani essence. Its restless magnificence, its tortured soul, its broken story. Its innate tehzeeb and tameez that weaves into its dialect the way snow melts on the slopes in spring and meanders through the colourful blooms. The hope still lingering in the eyes of those who row the shikaras, the rosy cheeks of children invested with innocence, as red and cheery as the apples in the meadows. The desperate longing for freedom as eagles span their ominous wings and circle high across the valley. And the poignant life that each and every Kashmiri native lives each day, clinging to the mirage of security, yet surrendering to fate, while toiling to eke out a living in a land that is, but a heartbreaking shadow of its former self.