Sunday, May 29, 2016

Throwing the cat among the pigeons

When our parents were growing up, there used to be a huge sheri-bakra divide in the valley. So essentially there were lions and there were lambs. Srinagar was a very dangerous jungle. The lions would attempt to frighten the lambs and call it fair. These were democratic rules of the jungle. The circus masters in Delhi cheered them on. This carried on for a long time.

Then one day the lambs got together in Srinagar, in Sopore, in Islamabad, in Bandipore, in Kupwara, in Kokernag — all over the place. They decided enough is enough. If the lions can maul us, and call it democratic, let us beat them at their own game. Let us run for elections. Let us show them we are not meek pushovers. The year was 1987.

Sure enough the lions panicked. The circus masters in Delhi were alarmed. They were afraid of two things — a) lions are a better deal. When they perform, the audience claps, b) lambs were untested. They were ideologically inverse, even if easily bullied. Also the lions had many ruffians and butchers on their side. Intellectuals are brilliant but they are not good at rigging elections.

So the lions — cunning old boys that they were — beat them at the democratic exercise. Lambs lost badly. Their votes floated in the Jhelum and flowed all the way to Pakistan. The ringmasters breathed a sigh of relief. Geelani sahib — whom Sanghi retards like to call a broker these days — and others went into oblivion. The lions continued their rule, unchallenged.

A few years later there was mutiny in the jungle. The lions fled. Their ringmasters vanished into thin air. What started as a take-over, a revolution of sorts, soon turned into pandemonium. While it is true that uprisings, because of their very nature of insubordination, are usually messy, ours was a little extra sloppy. Two and a half decades on, we are still unsure about what hit us in 1989.

What we remember — for sure — is everything that transpired in this interim. The horrid, hellish stuff that took place. But even before we could figure out how to make our way out of the woods — that are deep and dark, the ringmasters were back. This time around they had another set of creatures to cheer on.

And as if to paper-over everything that we have been through, and make little of our collective indignations, we now have a new name: cats. Suddenly it feels as if a cat has kittened in our mouths. Move over, bakras. The cats have cometh.

Ms Mufti is a fellow Kashmiri. If we have cat whiskers, she too has cat claws. Eventually all cats are gray in the dark.