“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep slowly, and then all at once.” – John Green, The Fault In Our Stars.
On 20th July 2019, the fault lines between us started getting wider. She said, “Let’s get out of this mess, this is not working”. Pretending to be cool, and understanding, I said: “Yes, let’s call it off”.
A few days later, I realised what she meant to me. I started to repent my words, but all in vain, thanks to mobile telephony; with a single click, she blocked me from everywhere, be it WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram. She even blacklisted my number – the harshest punishment any lover could ever get.
With every passing day, I started getting anxious, and curious; why such hatred? To seek answers to my questions, I dialled my friend, who lives in Dubai, “Yaara bae chus khatam” (I am dead).
He replied, “Don’t worry, let me talk to her”. After rounds of negotiations with my friend, she agreed to unblock my number and talk to me. On 3rd August 2019, things were getting normal between us, and I was literally on cloud nine. On the evening of 3rd August, she said: “Enjoy your vacations, you have come after a long time, I will call you on the 23rd of August”
My flight was scheduled for Delhi on 22nd August. I argued that this was not fair. She replied, “What is not fair in love you tell me, darling”.
Before I could make a plan, and meet her in person, I started to calculate the number of days I had to live without hearing from her. I felt 19 days was not that much time. In the late evening, on 4th August, the Base Transmission System (BTS) started declining, the internet was down by 10 pm, and calls were also barred by 11 pm. On 5th August, the government of India decided to scrap Article 370 from the Constitution.
I felt like I belonged to no man’s world; on one side, she said, wait till 23rd August, and on the other hand, the government had taken an unprecedented decision. I felt like I was robbed in the middle of a voyage.
Fighting this double whammy, I started giving bold explanations and arguments to the Sarpanch, Panch, and other people at large, about the advantages and disadvantages of Article 370 and mostly argued that scraping it was good. I said this out of insanity. I acted like a hypocrite, to hide the pain of losing two of the dearest things in one go. When I say, let Article 370 be scrapped, and let the battle be fought in court, I mean, in whose court should I take the case of my beloved?
Every night, before going to bed from 5th August, I prayed in the hope that the situation would remain peaceful so that the government could restore mobile telephony at the earliest.
Like an ambitious student, waiting for results, I was waiting for a statement from the Principal Secretary of Government of Jammu and Kashmir, (Rohit Kansal), on mobile telephony. Every time he spoke to the press, my depression got worse, and I started feeling helpless.
I became pessimist about talking to her anytime soon. In the middle of the night, wild dreams about anarchy, chaos, and lawlessness, would wake me wonder, what if there is war and we all die? How can I tell her how much I love and miss her? How can I tell her, that in the countryside, I will build her favourite hut, facing Apharwat Gulmarg?
I want to tell her that I like English music and that I am listening to one song on a loop – ‘Love me like you do’. I want to tell her that “my friends call you Selena Gomez, and I argue, you are more beautiful than her”. From her favourite Selena Gomez songs, (‘I miss you like rain in the desert’) to Sufi songs, I listened to all genres to heal myself, but nothing worked. The beauty of music is that you feel it when you are alive inside, but I was dead, so it sounded like noise to my ears. Rolling through her photos and old conversations on WhatsApp became routine until 22nd august.
My parents, with numb eyes on 22nd August, said: “Gaas Khudayas hawale” (May Allah protect you). This time, not only my immediate family but my uncles and aunties along with first cousins, came up to the car to see me off. I found it strange because I had never witnessed that before.
I have been living away from home for a decade now; It was like they knew there would be no communication with me for months. All the way from Baramulla to Srinagar, I saw traffic plying on the roads, and I asked my friend in eagerness, “Look everything is normal, why didn’t the government restore telephony?”
He gave me a dead look and said, “You are not normal, rest all is; God speed your normalcy”. It took me a month in Delhi, to understand what my friend meant, by saying, rest is normal, you are not.
Juggling around my daily routine like a cog in a wheel in Delhi, the frustration and depression kept mounting. In despair, I started consoling myself, that by 27th September, after the United Nations General Assembly session, communication would be restored.
The cold response by world leaders broke my heart. Words like climate change, felt very small, in front of the catastrophe I was going through on a personnel level. I was fast melting, like glaciers, and I knew the results. I was dying a slow death, which was imminent and unavoidable. What could I do about climate change, Islamophobia, self-determination, RSS, and terrorism, which might pose threats in the future; when my present was lost to a communication blockade. I wish I could dare and confront the leaders, about how they failed to talk about my plight and those of many others like me; just as Greta Thunberg did.
After many ‘shawwals’, (Islamic month in which ‘Eid is celebrated), I sighted my moon in a haze. The government of Jammu and Kashmir on 11th October announced that postpaid mobile telephony would be restored at noon, on 14th of October. I was exuberant and thrilled; I felt like I had been released from the gallows via a miracle.
On Monday, noon, before my family, I dialled her number; to my surprise, I found it switched off. In desperation, I recharged her number, finding out later, her Jio number was prepaid.
I talked to my Mother after 65 odd days. Like every other Kashmiri mother, my mother was more curious to know how my roommates were doing, she said: Yaar cheye theek, pounse chekhae?” (How are your friends, do they have money?)
I was literally in tears; how can mothers be so strong? I wish I could say to my mother, “that deep inside, I am was as strong as you, else I would have succumbed long back”.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” These lines kept me going for the last 75 days. I find courage every time I rewind our old conversations. Writing her name on a piece of paper, keeping her photo as a display picture, setting a romantic and sad caller tune, in the hopes that she will call and listen to how I feel about her. From dawn till dusk, the time has not moved at all, since the 3rd of August. I am still there, talking to her about romantic poems, picturesque meadows, and the two of us.
“The happiness of the king lies in the happiness of the subjects,” writes Kautilya in Arthashastra. By revoking Article 370, the government has made all of us sad, the ideal king would have made efforts to listen to his subjects.
Nothing is personal, everything can be politicised. A poor guy, who could never find the strength to talk about his love at home, is forced to write an open letter to his beloved, crossing various hierarchies of social order. This small and beautiful love story of mine was introduced by the state reducing me to a carcass, with anxiety, depression and sleep disorder for life.
The prank of partial restoration of communication added salt to my wounds when despite million dial-ups, I could not connect to her.
Dear Beloved, we will surely meet someday here, or hereafter, to feel the snow.