Co-authored by Hanan Zaffar:
It was an opium field, behind the school, Inder used to see every day back when Kashmir was a paradise of life rather death, youth were still thinking about their aspirations to become a doctor or an engineer rather than a militant, mothers and sisters will keep laughing at an incident instead of wailing. It was the home, which Inder remembers while sipping his coffee thirty years after the exodus of his community from Kashmir.
I see Kashmir in tatters, which is scattered all around me like atoms, invisible to the naked eye. Inder Salim, an artist by profession, recollects his memories of Kashmir, which drives him back to the vision of a stray dog running around the street of Bij Behara, vast paddy fields where he used to play along with his friends and the well near his house. “All of it is engrained within my memory of Kashmir,” he said.
While reminiscing about his life in the valley, he talks about his relationship with Noor Mohammad, his childhood friend. “Noor and I used to walk around the valley for long hours, and during the walk, we used to talk about life, girls (mostly about the hormonal changes we were going through at that time), and exchange a lot of personal experiences with each other. It was the best days of my life,” said Inder. He smiles, as a flash of memory comes to his mind.
It was after ten years, that Inder decided to go back to his home, he was in dilemma of what will he encounter. However, he mustered courage and went back to the valley. The first destination was Noor Mohammad’s home, which has now been shifted from Bij Behara to Anantnag. He went inside his home, and a sudden flashback of old memories came in front of him, he was continuously in touch with him. As they embraced each other, Inder came across a painting hanged on a wall smeared with blue colour paint, the painting was a gift from Inder to his beloved friend, and the fact that he still carried that painting along with him, meant a lot for Inder. “This was my Kashmir, where love and respect triumphs hate and intolerance,” he said.