A-Z of Sabb

People in subcontinent earn for two things: Home and Wedding. People want a big house and a bigger wedding. Kashmir being the part of the subcontinent is no different. Here, let’s skip the Housing part and concentrate on Wazwaan! Any typical Kashmiri wedding ceremony consists of 3 days of function at groom’s and 2 days at bride’s.

  1. Mall’e Maenz

This is prelude to the Maenz raat (mehndiraat) and is celebrated by both the bride’s and the groom’s family. Waaze arrives on this day but before him Hatakh arrives. This is just a test drive for the days to come and is mostly used to differentiate Panin (your own) from Vopar (everyone else). Invitation to this day is seen as the attestation to the proximity of the relationship you have with the invitees, hence leading to numerous hatakh (sulkiness) which is the most important and the most vibrant part of any Saal!

Normally, Waaz’e (traditional Kashmiri cook) arrives on this day to start preparing the dishes and be a pain in the back for the Vodn’i vael (Most underrated guys who are the organisation and the backbone of any wedding). This day doesn’t find any mention on the invitation cards, so all the Saal’ar (guests) were invited through an intricate procedure called Dapn’i gasun– Let’s discuss that some other day.

The most important and the most exhausting happening on this day is the Waaz’e waan initiation. Waaza after building and starting the Vaerr (fireplace on which dishes are cooked) starts asking for ingredients, which he has already made the Yaezmann (The owner) note down months ago to keep them available on this day. Still, some exigencies may take place and you might have to fetch the items which Woste waaze (Head Cook) demands from the market, this literally means that Waaza can demand for anything from Shonth (fennel seeds) to nuclear launch codes. The worst part of this is that NEVER EVER EVER, in anyone’s lifetime, has any Waaz’e asked for ingredients in a single-go. It’s always that they demand things slowly and intermittently, it is as if the Verri Josh makes them have a deep philosophical contemplation on the combustion of Verr, hustle bustle around them, nature, and cosmos. The Batte (food) served on this day is usually Tzarvan Batte (bare minimum dishes)

 

 

2. Maenzraat 

Also called mehndiraat, this day used to be reserved for the application of Hinna on the hands of the bride and little finger of the groom. This ceremony used to take place at night after guests were served dinner. In groom’s case, the Panun Toall’e (close relatives) used to wind currency notes around the little finger of the groom but nowadays that custom is replaced by a new ceremony that consists of cutting a cake with Mehndi Mubarak written over it, application of Hinna in the case of the Groom is skipped nowadays. The dinner that is served from this day is ferried by the Vodni vael who always have the feast after the general guests have finished eating.

At the bride’s home, Maenz-koeri arrive. These are the young females of the groom’s family, comprising of very close relatives- mostly first cousins; their selection displays the proximity of the rishta, leading to Hatakh and Malaal. They take a Hinna bowl from the groom’s home to the bride’s. Ironically, this is the most recent malady and it came into existence about the same time when Maenzi-waajyen did. Maenzi-waajyen is the professional Hinna applying artist, he/she is fetched from some beauty parlor again by some Vodni voal and then needs to be dropped there by the same because they don’t accept auto kiraye now! So, technically, the Hinna from the groom’s arrive when the bride has already spent few thousands on the services of a professional!

 

3. Yann’i woal

Also known as Masnandnashini, this day comprises of some of the major happenings both on the bride’s and the groom’s side. The bride’s side has this day earmarked for the reception of the baraat along with the feast that has to be served in three different sittings to three different groups. First group comprising of the gents whom you can trust with the punctuality of the time with just +1 or 2 hour delay. Normally, the timing for the feast on the invitation cards is put at 2 pm sharp but we all know the desolation of the tent at that time.

I once remember arriving at a function at 2 pm sharp, while they had asked to arrive at 1 pm, I saw the Tent’i wael with tenting rods and furnishing in their carriage so I assumed that these guys have been punctual with their timing and the feast has ended and that Tent’i wael chu kaarkhaan wataan. The Yaezman saw me and asked me to wait upstairs, at this point of the time, I thought that latecomers will be served in the Hall of shame. When I entered the hall, I was the only person there who was born after 1960s! So, I sat among them listening to the siyasat (which again is the part and the parcel of any Kashmiri wedding) I barely knew about. They were talking of such an old past that every second person they mentioned had the jannatgaar suffix, so either they were discussing the ancient Kashmiri history or their childhood. When it was 4 pm, I thought now they’ll serve us as they must have been serving ladies for the 2 hours I have been here. At 4:30 pm, Yaezman again came to the Hall asking us to come downstairs. We were served the lunch at 5 pm, to my surprise, Tent’i woal was fixing the tent when I arrived instead of uprooting the same. To this day, I blame the Yaezman for making me listen to the Paatcha daleel because he, being my neighbor, could have said that lunch will be served late and I would have spent that time at home!

The morning of this day witnesses an important event at the groom’s which is his shaving and hair cutting. Unlike earlier times, this too has been reduced to the norm rather than necessity; as in the earlier days, the groom actually used to undergo shaving and hair dressing but nowadays nothing of that sort happens as just like the case of the mendiraat of the bride, the groom too has had an expensive salon treatment few days ago.

The gents sabb is followed by the ladies sabb which is deemed to be the most crucial sabb because they can and certainly will talk! “Tyem chye katthe karaan”. They will talk about everything from the Rass traavnik skills of the Waaze to Waaze vardi to how many Kokar each tream contained to kem kotah wartaav kor to malaal kemis kemis chu gomut to daisy laal’eni hash’i oas huth khaandar’as pyeth te yei logmutIn short, this sabb has more critics under one roof than all the critics of both bollywood, hollywood, tollywood, and Bhojpuri film industry combined! Hence, this sabb is considered to be the most delicate in terms of quality of service needed. The indicator of which is quite apparent on the face of Daspaak woal. By the end of the SabbDaspaak woal has developed few ailments in his back.

Nowadays, caterers are hired for the same purpose but some are averse to it for various reasons ranging from Vopar kot tzanokh zanaan’an manz to Temav seat chune mazze lagaan kenh (latter mostly said by the Chaache who spends all the 2/3 days enjoying Verr’i josh sitting on Kursi.)

After the zannan’e sabb has ended, preparations begin for the Mahraaz Sabb at bride’s and Mahraaz saal at groom’s.

Mahraaz Saal ranges from Kahwas pyeth to Battas pyeth and depends on the preferences of the groom and his family; from Sunnat’i hisaab’i chu pakun to Ase chuna lukan hyund khyomut. Baraat usually leaves around 10 pm and returns around 1 am. In case, the baraat is on Kahwas pyeth and haven’t had dinner before leaving then it’s literally a nightmare for the Vodni vael  (BTDT) who are resurrected from their sleep and asked to serve the Laezimdaar patxh (mostly Zaamtir) who were accompanying the groom in the baraat.

The bride is received by the Groom’s close female relatives, rarely his mother; like all the happenings at a Kashmiri wedding, the selection of the receivers also displays the proximity of the Rishte– one more thing that needs to be kept in consideration for the Malaal free wedding, which never happens. After taking her full time (a subtle way to show the bride who is the boss) the Hashh (Mother-in-law of the bride) arrives to lift her veil hoping to send her relatives into Gashh (state of unconsciousness from the sight of bride’s beauty) the event is called Mohar Tulin. This is generally performed by the Hashh or the Badde Hashh (Mother-in-law of the Mother-in-law) if the latter is alive. This marks the end of this day.

 

4. Wathijj

This is the final day of the Kashmiri wedding and is celebrated by the groom’s family alone. On this day, the groom’s family has a feast for the ladies among whom the bride has her lunch. Again, the three other people sitting around the bride on the Tream defines the proximity of the relation hence you know what…. malaal obviously. The Wartaav (small monetary/gold gift given to the couple) takes place here. It is important to note here that the Wartaav process also takes place in the Gents sabb but most of the gents who give their gifts there are the ones who don’t have a Wathijj saal for the female members of their family. There is a female/male in zanaan’e sabb and Mard’e sabb respectively, who keeps the record of all the Wartaav that has been received on the Naev JK Bank diary or some other diary. This sabb at the groom’s is at par with the zanaan’e sabb at the bride’s yesterday in terms of Katthe, Hatakh, and quality of service. With this comes the end of the Wedding in general. There are other customs as well that follow that are Satim Doh and Phirr saal on which the close relatives of the Groom’s and Bride’s visit each other respectively actually for the purpose of general introduction but now to make mends to Hatakh and Malaal dealt out during the wedding.

 

MORAL OF THE STORY: Weddings in Kashmir, being the only social gathering, are a funfair except if you are a Vodni voal.

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Kaeshur Rachav

A month ago, I started a section in this blog wherein I translate the kashmiri songs, I have started with the popular ones first. While translating the songs, one of the problems that I faced was that many of the songs that I came across were nice to hear but I was clueless about the words that were being spoken in them, I couldn’t find the meaning of the words in the modern lexicon, that we use nowadays, as this modern lexicon stems from the urduisation and englishisation of our language. We barely know our language and our culture, that we inherited, as it existed. Partly because it is considered condescending if some child deigns to speak in kashmiri and partly because we don’t want our accent to give away our origins. We are somehow ashamed of our culture, our identity. Yes, it is true, we are ashamed of who we are!

Go to a social gathering and check for yourself, the child speaking in broken urdu  is quickly deemed to be refined and intelligent; and henceforth becomes recipient of affability, love, and generosity of the guests whereas the poor soul who has kaeshur on his tongue becomes the eyesore of the party even if his broken kashmiri is music to ears, he ends up receiving the cold-shoulder from the guests as he is an uncouth fellow just like his parents who didn’t teach him to shun his mother-tongue and ape the foreign language! Such brutes!

This leads to the Urdu-waala guys ending up with kashmiri that is worse than those with ST/GB certificates. I am not making this up, I have had the pleasure to be with such guys at school and college and trust me they only ended up making my Urdu worse. They know that they are speaking an alien language and in a bid to fit in they end up with linguistic disasters.

Tu shikaslad hai, zara kar kaam, zara ja dafa, tu balayei/kalle hai, hum lipper pe thay, usko waaze naatihyen thi aaj syun main saath are some of the examples of trying to fit in which became sort of urban-lingo at school leading to degradation of not just one language but two!

The second reason that I mentioned above is that of being afraid/ashamed of our origins, our identity that is ostensibly present in our accent. Urdu helps to mask the accent so nobody will know what part of Kashmir we are from. Some people are ashamed to belong to a particular place and it is not just one place! I, like all the sane Kashmiris like snow and it gives me immense joy to see a heavy snowfall, somewhat like we had this winter. I once asked few guys from other districts to tell me about the level of snowfall that they receive and surprisingly even at places that receive snowfall in several feet, their replies made me certain that we either receive as much as them or even more! Because, again, somehow the level of snowfall would have made me believe that they live on mountains, maybe!

We want our children to parrot English and Urdu because these are the official languages of the state with former being the global language, fair enough, this will definitely help them in getting acquainted with the functioning/happening of the state and the world easily but they have a lot of time for that, they first need to get acquainted with their own society, their culture, and their roots; they first need to know about the past they inherited then only can they appreciate the future they will build. In a world that demands polyglots, why are we robbing new generations of a language, that too their mother-tongue? In the process of doing so we are doing a great disservice to our land, our culture, and our forefathers. We come from a place that has a written historical document dating much before than that of Europe! Our poets were documented when English were learning to read! We are being dishonest with our past and robbing our future at the same time.

 

There is a silver-lining though but that is generally when we are no longer part of the Kaeshur society, I’m talking about NRks- these people being away from the motherland find that spirit of belonging and try to be more connected to their roots and in that process they impart the mother-tongue to their children and use their resources to safeguard the language and culture for future gens. If you google about Kashmiri language over 90% of the content comes NRKs- lessons about learning Kashmiri language, Kashmiri texts, commentaries on Kashmiri culture, cuisines, documented cultural shows and what not! They sponsor the cultural shows there and most important of all- get that documented! We are slowly getting rid of pheran and kangir but thankfully some ingenious people got pheran in vogue. So for the time-being pheran is another fashion accessory but kangir, still for some, is for photos only. Our so-called regional channel that is there for the promotion of the Kaeshir language broadcasts majority of programs in Urdu, and surprisingly, in English as well, that too at prime time!

Documentation is really important for the future generation because we come from that part of the world where it is shameful to speak in your mother-tongue, to learn your culture at school- we know about Harrapa but nothing about Burzhama, to practice and follow it! So, when in future, a kid wants to know what cacophony his grandparents murmur in, he might google the sound and find that it’s the language he was supposed to speak in!

So, document your culture as much as you can, write about anything and everything that is Kashmiri because if you don’t write your own history as you witness it someone else will as they want it to be!

Cheerith be haave yas dil

This is a famous poem of Bashir Dada. In this poem, the central theme revolves around the wishes of a lover. This is my interpretation of the verses, your interpretation might be different. Errors and omissions regretted.

Cheerith be haave yas dil, mye gasum su yaar aasun ~

Jaam’an be chaak dimeha goas raaze daar aasun

I wish to show scars of my heart to someone, if only I’ve such beloved?

I’d tear apart my robes, if only he be my confidant? 


Naal’as be chooni jareha, tschaayan be rang bareha~

Namme’nei be khoon mal’eha gosum aekhtiyaar aasun

I’d decorate the robes, I’d colour the shadows
I’d dye nails with my blood, if only I have any authority over myself


Bozum byemaar ketyah tsei nish yiwaan ilaaj’as~

Be te roi choan wecheha, be gasus byemaar aasun

(THIS IS MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE)

I’ve heard, so many patients visit you for cure

I just wish to see you, if only I too was ailing


Baagah dil’uk sajaevith tsol baagwaan rooshit~

Ade phael gulaab kaetyah, ya goas shumaar aasun

The Gardner of the garden of my heart left midway after decorating it

Those florets that couldn’t bloom, if only there was an estimate.


Basaan mye chum marr’e ma, bass chum akh tamanah~

Waaih! Chaani braand’e kanni tael gase mye mazaar aasun

I fear, I might die, now I only have this wish-

If only your stepping stone becomes my tombstone.


Praanyan Basheer kare kyah goas nov zakhm aasun~
Yodvai tse teer laayakh, be gasus shikaar aasun

What’s the worth of these old scars, they should be fresh

Would you shoot an arrow, if only I was the target

Lalwun Naar

This happens to be one of the most popular poems of Rasul Mir- Keats of Kashmir. The theme of this poem revolves around the helplessness of a person- in pursuit of love and then after finally meeting the beloved. Some of the famous verses of the poem are as under.

 Again, this is my interpretation of the poem. It may vary from yours. Errors and omissions regretted.


 Gaste wesiyay, Laal chum dooray

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

Dearest friend, you go and lookout for my beloved,

For my saplings have an inferno to bear.

*(Moor- sapling of a plant, that’s too feeble to stand on its own weight)
*(LalwunTo rock something as in a cradle )


Domb’e daadai traayem cheerai

Dash mye ganjmai aastaan’an

Yas ne dai dei tas Kate pooray

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

I even looked at tarots for motherhood

Tied sacred threads in shrines

If lord doesn’t provide you, you’re no good

For my saplings have an inferno to bear

*(Domb’e daadai-  condition of a hopeful mother who’s unable to conceive )

*(Cheere- To cast a lot )


Garre draayas gare’kyan tsooray

Neel naag’ai loosum doh

Raat lajemo raah musaafooray

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

Out of my home I sneaked 

Alas! It was nightfall just at NeelNaag

All night like a wayfarer, I roamed

For my saplings have an inferno to bear


Maaje raechnas khon’ne mastoorai

Aame doad’e seat navnaevnam tann

Sui paan logum metche mozoorai

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

Mother held me with love sweetest

Best of nourishment did my body get

That same body now toils in dust

For my saplings have an inferno to bear

*(Aam’e doad- fresh milk rich in nutrients, that was a luxury for many during old times )


Hash’e laeinam zaevij mooray

Pootche tsotnam paekh anzul

Gaseha maalyun su te chum dooray

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

Mother-in-law beat me with whips

Tore apart the border of my veil

Would’ve ran back home, but far away it is

For my saplings have an inferno to bear

*(Zaevij Moor- thin stick that makes a whip sound when swung )

*(Pootch- headscarf )

*(Paekh anzul- used to be special brocade over the headscarf )

Aes kokil’ah maedaan dooray 

Sua che paraan Allah’hu

Sua che laejmech waalwaash’i dooray

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

A bird in some far away forest

Is reciting Allah’hu

She’s away, in a trap caught

For my saplings have an inferno to bear

*(Waalwaash- A luring trap used by hunters )


Ye Chu Rasul Mir Shahbahdooray 

Tem Chu trovmut aeshq’un dukaan

Yeevu aashiqo, cheyiv toori tooray

Mye Chu mooray lalwun naar

There’s Rasool Mir at Shahabaadoor

He has opened the tavern of love

Lovers go thee and drink cups full

For my saplings have an inferno to bear

Haa jaani’azeezo 

This poem has been composed by Waaze Mahmoud. And in this poem, the basic theme revolves around the vagaries of life and how dear we hold our life. Following is my interpretation and understanding of the poem. Do correct me where I’m wrong. Errors and omissions regretted.

 Haa jaani’azeezo, wala goor karayo~

Matt’e laal jaraeyo, wala goor karayo

O’ dear self, let me sing you a lullaby.
Let me adorn you with pearls, let me sing you a lullaby



Panen’yav te parayav, dost’av te rafeeq’av
Banne’nas te gyool hamo, wala goor karayo

Knowns and unknowns, friends and dearest of them

All mocked at my misery, let me sing you a lullaby



Tharr’i hind gulabo, kath waari pholhamo
Meshq chaanay balayo, wala goor karayo

Rose of my garden, where did you bloom? ~
My elixir is your fragrance only, let me sing you a lullaby.



Daryav ye aeshq’un aab, saer paeth mye gov saelaab ~

Kamm’e taar’e taraeyo, wala goor karayo

This River of thy love, drowned me in its flood.

I don’t know any passage for crossing, Let me sing you a lullaby


Rosh’e Wala

I couldn’t find the poet of this song, I think it’s Habba Khatoon but I am not sure. If you know who it is, please let me know in the comments. I have tried to translate it to the best of my ability, in case you find something wrong do let me know. Errors and omissions are regretted.

  • Rosh’e wala myaane dilbaro ~

           posh’an bahaar aav yoer walo 

          Come out of sullenness, my beloved

          Spring has finally arrived

  • Ath shama roeyas path

           chi karaan pomper’in gath

           wigne wanwaan tsei path, 

           posh’an bahaar aav yoer walo

         This illuminated face of yours

        Attracts myriad of moths

        Nightingale in your honor sings

        Come, my beloved spring has finally arrived

  •   Mass’khas pyaale baryo ~

            toase mann maale karyo

            yikh shabah te mokhte jareyo

            posh’an bahaar aav yoer walo

           I’ll fill wine in cups

           I’ll make exquisite garlands

           Come, and I’ll adorn you with pearls

           Come, my beloved spring has finally arrived

  • Chaeshme loosim mye pyaraan 

           kate chukh tse paan paeraan

           yaawun chu kael soaraan

          posh’an bahaar aav yoer walo

(This is my favorite couplet)

        I lost my sight in your longing

        You still adore yourself?

        Beauty fades by morrow

        Come, my beloved spring has finally arrived

Domestic Abuse

Marriage Or Mirage

Marriage is described to be a pious, personal, and the perfect affair by almost all the religions of the world. It’s a relationship in which two souls reunite to be one but unfortunately, here in subcontinent, it’s presumed to be two families instead of two individual souls that are meant to be reunited! Some incredible and astonishing analogies thereby come to forth that, I believe, are among the basic causes of all the marital problems in this part of the world. I won’t delve into the marriages of the entire subcontinent but want to give the reader a purview of the marriages in a kashmiri society. So, in case you are easily offended, find my observation way out of line, or choose to bury your head in the ground like an ostrich, now is the time to leave. If you still want to waste your time, please go on.

Congratulations! You chose to stay.  Now is the right time for me to apologise for my grammar and writing skills, and of course for anything that you may find repulsive up ahead.
Kashmir is the Muslim majority state proud of its kashmiriyat, and rightly so. We kashmiris have gone through the violence from time immemorial and haven’t given up any of our traditions or rituals; a simple wazwan (kashmiri food feast) didn’t see much change since its inclusion. We’re known for our hospitality and for our spirit. Kashmir is also known as reshvaer– land of saints but with time only the land remained and all the saints decided to get buried under it.  I am not here to tell you about Kashmir but about the evils that surround, and have enshrouded, our marital system.

Being a 90s kid, I haven’t got any chance to know the other, and equally important, half of our kashmiri culture- Pandits. So, my sophomoric observations are mainly based on the Muslim marriages.
We, here in Kashmir, don’t leave any chance to boast about our muslim identity. We aren’t self-sufficient in anything apart from masjids and the loudspeakers that come with them. There’s a masjid on every corner. I can count some 10+ masjids in a 500 step radius around my home. There’s no harm in building masjids only if they serve their purpose throughout the year and not just Ramadan. The point here I want to reflect is that by this show of Muslim strength we wish to affirm our Muslim identity in the society but the teachings of Islam in our day-to-day life are somehow overpowered by the society in which we live. The moot point here is that 100% of the population in this society is of Muslism. Let me describe this overpowering nature in points.

1. CASTE SURNAME SYSTEM

We are muslims, alhamdulilah! So, we don’t believe in the caste system that is highly prevalent in the Hindu society UNTIL a suitor is sought! Here the Hindu caste system is subtly changed into the surname system. There are various classes of surnames in our society. And mind you, we’re (most of us) really serious about it. The surnames, thought to be inherited are primarily all farce! In Kashmir most of the surnames, more than 90%, originated either from a nickname, occupation, place of origin or some incident that happened to your forefathers. The analogy about some being descendents of the Prophet pbuh and thus they command greater respect is a farfetched idea, and as far as I know my Prophet pbuh, he too would have censured this idea with a strong hand. After the analogy regarding the descendents of prophet pbuh, there are also the descendents of the saints that have passed in Kashmir. Remember reshvaer? Now, I don’t want to debate the technicalities and thus probability of the ancestry being right or wrong, for all I know is that in a world where at least 124,000 Prophets pbut have passed, we all are descendents of at least 2 of them!

Furthermore, with this sort of classification, the chances of having a stable marital relationship is really difficult forget about witnessing a blooming love story. We are all adults here (if you’re not then please leave this website for your own good) and know that when two people fall in love they don’t demand a manzimyaer parche (piece of paper, matchmakers carry were all the details about the guy or the girl is given, primarily the surnames of the father’s family, and mother’s family as well) beforehand. Had that been the case things would have been hassle free. You like someone? Demand the parche, if you’re compatible continue, else farewell. Maybe Kashmir will come up with something like that of our own- our version of Adhaar card!

In past, people hardly cared to seek the surname when looking for marriage but now with more ‘education’ and ‘global exposure’ we are adamant on seeking the surname approval!

If the relatives find something fishy about the surname of the match, you hear those 4 magical words:  aem aase paanai kormut which can be ‘audaciously’ translated to “this is a love marriage.” Henceforth, a blasphemy!

These divisions are still there among our society. A person having X surname wants to marry other with Y surname but parents are against this marriage, it’s not the guy or the girl they are against but his/her surname! So either you succumb to their pressure or they do. If you succumb, then love gov phail and gives rise to social evils, infidelity, and a bad relationship! If they do, then it’s just a beginning to the slys and the innuendos that will follow, all through your life.

Also, the reputation in society, nobility, character, habits, manners are all believed to have originated from your surname and your surname alone!

There are only a few who rise above surnames and make a name for themselves.

2. SHAHER-O-GAAM

Apart from the surname malady, the other severe disease that we are suffering from is our ethnicity, our place of living or origin. There’s this word Groous that people of city (by city I mean Srinagar only), who have some urban delusion, use for the people from other districts. If you ask someone in city what this word means, they will tell you that it primarily means someone from the village- uncouth and uncultured. There’s this delusion that everything apart from Srinagar is a village, so, by default all the other districts of Kashmir become villages de facto! Not just all the people living in other districts apart from Srinagar but the people from the outskirts of the Srinagar as well are known to comprise of this category, of Groous for the people of Srinagar. Now, if you travel to the outskirts of Srinagar and ask the people out there who the Groous is, according to them. They will point in the direction of the other district. Now, visit that district and ask them the same question, they will point to their outskirts. Ask the people of these outskirts the same question; they will point upwards to the inhabitants of the mountains. Ask them the very same question; they will point to the inhabitants at higher elevation than they are at. Ask the inhabitants at the highest elevation, they too might point upwards which I fear is the habitation of God!

There’s this moronic divide between the people of the Srinagar and the other districts that apart from disturbing our regional harmony also disturbs our social harmony. I remember my initial days at the college where my later-to-be-friends from other districts used to taunt us, guys from Srinagar. Initially, they had a biased approach towards us, maybe because of some misconception towards the people of Srinagar in general but later on they became some of our close friends. One of them, who was most radical, who used to maintain a distance, became one of my finest friends, shared a lot of personal stuff, confided many secrets and sadly, requested for some important piece of advice (pertinent point here is that you don’t come to me for advice. I’m bad at that.)

Leave the intercaste and interfaith marriages; interdistrict marriage is the new taboo. I don’t know much about the other districts but here in Srinagar it’s like the next big thing. Dosti pakki district apna apna.

There’s this question asked to every matchmaker here: yem katik asli? (Where are they actually from?). Mostly, if you’re from Srinagar, you’ll be traced back to the Downtown. So, our Adhaar card needs a new entry! Let me mention this that Kashmir is so vast and vibrant that we have had ancient kingdom capitals in every present-day district, even many capitals within the same district. So, next time you meet someone from some other district try observing things other than his accent. In Islam, there’s absolutely no provision for this nonsense. If you’re still so much biased, next time don’t pray Salaah in your local masjid because 9/10 chances are that he ain’t local!

3. PAISA

This is nothing new, like all the other places, monetary conditions are a prerequisite here as well. Here in Kashmir we don’t have a dowry system, at least we don’t call it dowry. There’s this Voldemort like reference whenever dowry is mentioned, we ask, “Temav rota kenh?” (Did they accept anything?) It’s only the reference in general, nothing is mentioned in particular. Please note, we are not uncultured like rest of the subcontinent to demand a dowry Astagfirullah! You are wise enough to know, as the father of the bride, what is expected of you. So, in general a dowry is expected from you, there are no demands ye khosh karre (whatever you wish to give) then it’s the prerogative of the groom to accept or refuse the same.

Thankfully, the new generation refuses all forms of subtle kashmiri dowry but there are still some cunning, ibn-iblees who use innuendos or will ask blatantly for something making it really hard for other people to marry off their daughters. Here, it’s important to note that it does not matter how much literate or religious you are to ask for a dowry, what matters is how much educated you are!  Education and literacy are quite different.

In Kashmir, we also believe in the forgotten eleventh commandment: vehement display of money on weddings. If only they could empathise with the father of the hoping-to-be-bride, who cannot cope up with the basic voluptuary customs present-day marriage demands, most of our social evils would be wiped out.

Aasun baasun laayakh (something, of some value) and panun haakh batte che khyewaan (they have their ‘small’ morsels) are the ways to describe the financial conditions of the family of guy or the girl to protect them from the evil eye! Mostly, the surname scrutiny is done because it is believed that the surnames are divine and are a celestial certificate for the character of the guy or the girl

(fun fact: restaurant owners or in most cases, college canteen owners are more privy to the character of guys and girls than their parents, so better to get a character certificate from him!)

There’s also a fourth classification- spirituality but who cares?

Lover’s Destiny

PART TWO

“Wa’ala’kum’asalaam,

Yes, I was a bit busy these days and didn’t get time to check for your reply. You have put me in a predicament; I don’t know how to respond. You ask me questions I don’t know answers of. But let me tell you this, I never felt as if I am in love with you. I don’t think I can be. Yes, I too felt as if we crossed a line somewhere, and as you have mentioned it would be better if we parted ways.

 

P.S Keep up the good work going on your blog and be blessed.”

 

She really sent a timid telegram to his plethora of emotions. Why did she do that? Were her feelings deceiving her or was she trying to be cautious in her approach? “After all what do I know about him”, Aisha murmured to herself, “apart from his name and his interests? Maybe he was feigning his way through, how difficult is it to appear pious online? How difficult is it to gather bits of knowledge here and there? Maybe he is not what he says he is. He might be someone who knows me, and, has tracked me down on the internet, and now is in pursuit of making me fall in love with him. Maybe he knows me much more than I am aware about myself, and all of this is merely a gambit in itself to lure me into his trap.” These were the thoughts that were troubling Aisha after she sent her email. Sometime passed and she heard a call for dinner from downstairs.

Aisha was the only surviving child of her parents. She was the third child of her parents, the other two both being girls like herself had died soon after birth. This was another reason why she was very much loved and adored by her parents, her uncles and her aunts, much more than their own children. Both of her parents were teachers and had made it sure to raise Aisha in the best, amiable environment. She was a grownup now and her mother was found discussing suitable suitors for her with her father. Upon feeling Aisha’s presence nearby, her father used to evade the question with a frivolous saying “I won’t let my daughter go” and used to hug Aisha tightly, Aisha used to reply “I am not leaving my father as well”. Both well aware of the fact that one day she will be married and will have to leave her father’s haven forever.

After finishing her dinner Aisha returned to her room and somehow thoughts of Abdullah were still haunting her. Now she began to reason with herself, ‘How can he possibly have tracked me down? It was me who commented on his blog! His blog about Hijab was genuine and it didn’t have any proof that he was feigning besides that, his blog is older than mine, containing topics that have been written when I was alien to the internet itself!’

In her heart she knew that she loved him but like him, she too was afraid of love! She always enjoyed the smile on the faces of her parents whenever they talked about seeking husband for her. They, like every other parent, wanted to make sure that, the person their child is to spend his/her life with is best for them. Like every other parent they wanted to enjoy those tiring, exhausting discussions on the list of the suitors. They wanted to satisfy the insatiable heart of a parent. And Aisha didn’t want to rob them of this happiness. She always used to change the topic whenever her parents seemed to incline towards discussing the fate of their previous children born before her. She wanted to be married with the consent of her parents, and perhaps if her siblings would have outlived to reach the age of marriage, she might have considered Abdullah, but being the only living child of her parents she decided to trample the flowers of her ‘Garden of love’ when they were nothing more but buds!

But in pursuit of saving herself from any emotional suffering she had torn apart Abdullah. Abdullah read the mail several times trying to decipher the hidden message that was there all along but could only be seen through the eyes of a lover. He thought that the screen was getting blurred without realising that it was some viscous fluid secreted in his eyes that blurred his vision. After failing to make out any other meaning apart from the one that was there in simple English, he sighed rubbing his eyes with the palm of his hands and went to sleep.

Days were passing by and more and more marriage proposals were coming Aisha’s way, she was coming up with excuses, dilly dallying the issue for some time. Why was she doing this? Perhaps she wanted Abdullah to take a more formal approach, perhaps she wanted him to talk with her parents and make it official, but why did she give him a cold response in the first place? Why was she unable to express her feelings in a plain simple manner? Why do lovers behave as strangers?

Meanwhile, few years passed, Abdullah now with a doctorate, was Professor at some Saudi university. He still used to continue his blogging journey and this time, apart from his conventional topics, he was discussing the topics relating to love, marriage, and children. He shifted from one field to another mainly because he was writing the blogs for himself rather than his audience, he was doing more of introspection instead of delivering sermons to masses, he wanted himself to gain something from his blogs, and if some of his readers gained something that was a bonus!  And yes, he was not practicing everything he was sharing but he was trying.

 Last year he came to know about the marriage of his own brother! Umar had married a girl at Ireland some 6 months after he had landed there and was thus dillydallying for years now. Abdullah came to know that he even had a year old niece. All of this news about the newest family member was announced by Umar’s acquaintance at Ireland; he was of predisposition that Abdullah already knew the fact. Actually, Abdullah had met this acquaintance at Lal chowk, where the latter congratulated the former for the recent blessing, and apologised for not being able to congratulate Mrs and Mr Amjad personally!

 

Abdullah smiled and left. Initially, he didn’t believe that his brother would have married that too without the consent of his parents but today after a long time since he had actually let his mind believe that he was thinking about her, he got reminded of Aisha. He never had let her be in the oblivion, even for a jiffy, but he was just pretending as if he never thought about her. The greatest lovers are biggest cheaters, they don’t cheat their beloved they cheat themselves. They call it infatuation when it’s the only thing that tells them “Today wasn’t that bad either, maybe tomorrow you will meet her, let’s live another day, who knows? Miracles might happen. She may want you like you want her, if not today, let’s wait for tomorrow” and this continues until the day where either She embraces you or you embrace death!

 

‘Lovers are helpless,’ He thought. What is it, that drives people mad? So much so that they are not ready to consult the only people in the world who will never wrong them in the matters pertaining to the most important decision of their life- Their parents regarding marriage. If you want to marry someone, tell your parents, they will not be displeased, for all their life if there was something that they wanted, it was your happiness and nothing else. A smile on your face is solace for them, you are all they have. Since the day you were born, your parents are dreaming about your wedding, they want everything to be perfect, perfect for you, and what will become of them when they will come to know that, they are not even invited to the wedding of their own children? Finally, he somehow managed to tell his parents about Umer, they weren’t angry but a sudden melancholy enveloped them. They felt betrayed, not because their son chose to not tell them this personally but because they felt as if they had made their own child to distance away from them just because of some principles that he was meant to adhere to. But little did they know that it was because of the respect Umer had for his parents that made him to be reluctant. The family asked them, Umer and his wife to visit their home in Kashmir to attend the engagement ceremony of Amir. The family received them with great zeal and fervour. And during the regular family talk, Umer suggested to marry Abdullah along with Amir. So, it was decided. He was married to Khadija, a simple and beautiful woman.

Finally, Aisha too was married, to Zakarya, and few months after her marriage, she came across Abdullah’s blogs, and got the feeling as if he too was married, she felt happy for him, and even prayed for him. Abdullah continued his blogs even after his marriage to Khadija out of his passion, and not because he was still waiting for Aisha, as it was the only way he could communicate with her, tell her that he is out there, and yet pretend he did not mean any such thing! Maybe he did or maybe not. Who knows? Lovers are simple people with strange emotions and stranger actions; they are always in the pursuit of their beloved but prefer to think that, they are not!

Both lived happily ever after!!!!

 

Wait! Is this how such a unique relationship was meant to end? They met yet they did not meet? Is this how the prayers of lovers are answered?

Today, on 9th of Muharram, some months after Abdullah had applied for Khadija’s visa, they were going to Saudi. Aisha too had her husband working there in Saudi somewhere and was travelling on the same day as she too was not living in Kashmir anymore. Ah! Some way or the other, destiny finds a way to keeps lovers close to each other! Maybe they might be travelling by the same flight or not! They might be in the same flight, at least from Delhi to Saudi! And let me tell you, yes, they were in the same flight! Not just from Delhi to Saudi but all the way from Kashmir to Jeddah!

 

At night, at their residence, before going to bed, while Zakarya asked Aisha to check for some email they were going to receive from Embassy, he quietly laid his head on her shoulder looking at the screen while she was using laptop as per his request. He loved her dearly but did she also love him like she loved Abdullah? Or was this all she could do now? Maybe she had really put Abdullah in the oblivion. She was happy to have not raised any hopes in him by sending her last and final email to him. While checking her mails, there was no mail from embassy but there was one mail, from Abdullah!

Everything was now revolving right before her eyes, she blushed from embarrassment, and she could hear the blood flowing in the veins of her neck and head. Zakarya was looking at the screen besides her! What was she supposed to do now? She apprehended that Zakarya may ask about it, she could definitely not procrastinate to check it later as he was all the while staring at the screen; well she could at least try! She did try! She tried to get up from there making an excuse to go back to the kitchen but as destiny had it for her, Zakarya asked, “Who is this?” her hesitation said it all, it was all written over her face, which she hoped He could never read, her body was clearly showing signs of her guilt which she prayed he would never decipher.

Now Zakarya wanted her to open the email, it was more of a command then a request to his newlywed wife. What could a spurned lover have written after a long hiatus? What made him to do this after so long? And Viola! He mailed her today, when she was checking her email in presence of her husband! Of all the days of their longing he rather destiny chose this day!

The email was dated, today!

It read:

Dearest Khadija,

I knew my prayers won’t go unanswered. I knew that you would be my Queen of jannah! I had trust in my lord. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s just a prank. 😛

P.S Don’t forget to wake me up for fasting, tomorrow.

 Zakarya

 

Amidst cascade of tears Khadija looked at Zarkarya and hugged him, She wanted to throw a tantrum at him but instead her emotions decided to betsy her. That’s what your heart does to you in Love.

Zakarya used Abdullah as his online name while Khadija used Aisha as her! Abdullah (Zakarya) came to know about it when he saw Aisha’s (Khadija’s) email address mentioned in the Visa application as that of her beloved! Adam met Hawa on 10th of Muharram after hundreds of years being dismissed from Jannah. Abdullah too chose this day to reveal it on the 10th Muharram itself!

 

Now you might be wondering, how they addressed each other?

Let’s leave it to them.

For lovers don’t need names to communicate, they only need love! 

I Fear To Be

                                                      PART-1

A sunny afternoon in the valley when everyone was busy returning to their homes after a long autumn day. Abdullah, a young boy of 18, was leaving for his tuitions after praying ASR nimaz in the local masjid. Abdullah was a bright student always loved by his teachers, his friends, and his family. He was the third and youngest child of his parents. He had two elder brothers, who were both in college, Umar-eldest studying business administration while the middle one, Amir-was pursuing MBBS. Abdullah, inspired by Amir and somewhat expected by his parents opted for medical in his post matriculation studies. Abdullah being a meritorious student all his life like his other brother was expected to shine in the qualifying entrance examination. His father Amjad, a govt employee, and his mother both were proud of their children. This family of five lived in a modest house located in a respectable neighbourhood with a small garden in front where all the three children had spent their childhood mostly playing cricket. They were considered very pious and were revered by their neighbours. All the three children prayed five times a day, attended a Darsgah as kids, learned the quran and were now living an ideal Muslim life. Their day always started with Nimaz followed by recitation of Quran and so on.

While going to the tuition, Abdullah used to walk on the bank of Jhelum and used to do the same while returning. There was something that attracted him to water; he always felt it to be intriguing, fascinating, and attracting him with some hypnotising force far strong than all those forces that he has studied in his physics and chemistry classes. Whenever he was confronted by female folk on his way to tuitions, he used to remind himself about the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad pbuh stating, “If a woman passes in front of you, lower your eyes until she has passed by.”  He incorporated his lifestyle according to Islam or at least was trying to do so.

Years passed by and now he was studying literature. Why? Because it was what he always wanted to do, it was the only thing he could concentrate on. It took much more than just courage to reason with his parents after he couldn’t qualify for bachelors in medicine. His parents wanted him to try again but he was tired of trying, the very thought of having those sleepless nights once again would make him sad more which would have made any other to shudder. He had given it all he had and in his heart he knew that there was no stone left unturned, no book unread, no plan unexecuted. He knew that there was nothing special that needed to be done. It was a decree and the only thing that he could do was to accept the will of God. What else can you do rather than accepting what the lord has ordained for you? Often he reminded himself of the Islamic saying “What is meant for you will not miss you and what is meant to miss you will not befall you!”

His dream was shattered. Sometimes it is really hard to even breathe, when the dream you were breathing for disappears like the fog breathed out in winters. What are you expected to do when you find that everything you loved was falling apart? The only thing you were asking from your lord was not granted. What now? Is the life worth living anymore when you know that the only thing you loved won’t ever be yours? This was the most common question his heart asked his mind. There are times when you are in love and you start projecting yourself with your love, life changes gears, everything moves so fast, all hurdles are overcome and in the end all you are left with is something rare, something precious, something called ‘happiness’. You build your own memories, you start cherishing them, and you start securing them oblivious of the fact that there is a force capable enough to shatter those dreams of yours in a jiffy.

Abdullah seemed to be cornered; he felt nowhere to go now and was considering committing the most dreaded sin- SUICIDE. Whenever he got reminded of his dream he used to feel a lump in his throat. Things were getting on his nerves. One day he was listening to some bayaan on his mobile when the orator narrated a life changing anecdote for him. The anecdote was:

‘Once someone asked Hazrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) “How did you recognise the presence of Allah?” Hazrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) replied “whenever I failed to execute my plans, I understood that there is some Supreme Planner whose plans are always executed and I knew that He is Allah”

Now here he was living his dream, doing what most of us cannot i.e. pursue happiness. Life was going on smoothly. Umar got a job overseas in Ireland, Amir was now preparing for M.D entrance exam. And Abdullah himself decided to go for further studies at KU. Umar was happy with his  job so was his family. He was now taking the responsibility of being the big brother; he used to send them money at regular intervals, helping out his father and in a way providing to his family. After all, our family is the only candle light that keeps us driving through those dark times when all the bright stars decide to change their orbit.

Abdullah, being inspired by the religious sermons that he used to listen from time to time was trying to be a Daiee– one who invites to Islam. He decided to take this venture a step further and began to start his journey ONLINE. He created an account on a popular blogging website and was inviting people to embrace Islam. His account used to be a busy one. Many muslims were inspired by his thoughts and many disliked him for being ‘extremist’, some with believed he was one with medieval ideology in this modern era. Once he happened to write about the most discussed and most misinterpreted issue- HIJAB. Hijab is as if a taboo, people know about its importance but fail to incorporate it in their lives, they don’t want to discuss it like other religious issues, and rather people dislike talking about any religious issue. People tend to believe in ‘more you know more you will be accountable for’. Hence being ignorant is as good as being Jannati!

This hijab blog of his received many praises and curses alike. One such critic was Aisha. She had literally torn apart his blog by writing a rebuttal- apparently another blog, and providing the link to it in the comment section. The renegades, as Abdullah called them, were praising her open mindedness and her bravery to step out against the common cult, to defy the diktats, to break her ‘fetters’! Abdullah decided to mail her rather than mentioning her blog in his next post, just to gain few brownie points. A correspondence started between the two. Doubts were being cleared on both the sides like that breeze of the dawn that sweeps the sky clear of all the clouds so that the day will be bright and sunny, quietly doing its job in darkness without expecting any credit or appraisal, making your day gilding while you sleep.

Slowly they began to share their religious beliefs, knowledge, and queries with each other. Time passed by and now they slowly knew about each other. Both of them were startled to know that they studied at same university. One such thing about religion and religious talks is that you never need to mention any thing about your place, origin, or culture; Mecca and Medina were the places, Arsh was the origin and Islam itself is the culture, that’s why it’s called Deen- the way of life rather than a simple religion.

Something strange started to happen between these two souls since they came to know that they lived in the same city and studied at the same university. The religious debates began to transform into political ones and over a period of time they were discussing the pro and cons, in fact only the cons of the education system. Few months down the road they were discussing their hobbies and childhood, most of which was spent collecting nightmares and dodging bullets, remembering nearest relative that resides around so that when you came back after the school and found that a crackdown is in place at your locality, you can find a safe haven at the home of your relative. They started correspondence discussing hijab in our culture and somewhere behijabi became their culture or at least they were heading towards it.

Every day after their college they used to communicate with each other, this was becoming the wont now. Both these souls were interested in the life partner like each other. So what was this now? Was this any sort of omen? That you’ve found your soulmate? Your companion in Jannah? Or was it simply some infatuation that was clouding their judgement to decide what to stand for? What were they delivering sermons about? You might get tired but Devil doesn’t! Both of them were deciding to ask other for a meeting, a rendezvous as they both studied at same university and were friends from couple of months but ironically neither of them had seen the other. This meeting was more to see other than to hear him/her out. You know that you love Allah and know about his existence but you never demand him to show up, why? Because in your heart you know that he never will, but this is not the case with us humans. The next person you love and respect more than anyone else in this world apart from Allah is the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Don’t you desire to see him? To know what he looked like? To watch him smile? There are books published about his looks only! Anyone who has loved will know what it means to see the face that fades the beauty of moon, which hooks your attention taking you into a trance state. They too were experiencing it as everyone else who has ever been in love!

It is said that Allah never lets his blessed slaves to go astray; he shakes them every time they decide to go numb. Similar thing happened this time around; Abdullah was travelling back from his college listening to some bayaan and Aisha was reading some Islamic pamphlet that was distributed at the University. It happened as if at the same time. Both of them came across a similar saying at the same time, one was using his hearing senses while other her sense of sight, it was like this “Whenever a shaitan fails to lead a pious soul astray, whenever all his ploys and plots fail, he goes to Iblees and asks the cursed one for help. Iblees being the most shrewd and wicked knows that all other gambits will fail except one! Iblees deceives him/her by asking him/her to give Daawah to opposite gender in private!” and Viola! They have already digressed!

After reaching home, unlike their daily routine at the evening, no mails were exchanged whatsoever. Initially both of them thought that the other is busy and hence tried to feign busyness themselves. Earlier both of them only came online at the evening, knowing that the other will also be online at that very moment but since couple of days both of them frequented the website whole day in a desperate hope that the other might have left a reply for them.

Ah! Love! But stranger than fiction! They desperately wanted their beloved to commune only to rebuke him/her away, to tell him/her that he/she was no longer interested in such a relationship of mere correspondence to enlighten other of the saying “when a bachelor man and  girl meet alone, shaitan is the third giving them company.” This too was a way of impressing the other so that the other will feel more attracted according to the saying “Desire for a life partner who will help you in your Deen!” Meanwhile their virtual meeting was as good as any real rendezvous only this time there was no worry of being seen or being late to home! If you ask me I think both of them deserved each other, May be you too might be feeling the same but who knows how the events will turn out in future?

It was Sunday, 3 days had gone by since they had shared any sort of communication. You too might remember your first draught in your love life, if there was any or maybe you were too prudent to venture such haunted alleys. In the evening Abdullah decided to leave a reply, he sat down to write and it was:

Dear Aisha,

As’salamu’alai’kum, first of all sorry for writing ‘Dear’ at the start, I don’t think I command any such authority or deserve any position for addressing you that way but I felt it would be impudent on my behalf to start without it! I didn’t communicate with you since Thursday evening and you didn’t either. I don’t know about your reasons but as far as mine go, I want to state them. On Friday, while returning home, I was listening to a bayaan by Maulana Nouman, there I heard this, “Whenever a shaitan fails to lead a pious soul astray, whenever all his ploys and plots fail, he goes to Iblees and asks the cursed one for help. Iblees being the most shrewd and wicked knows that all other gambits will fail except one! Iblees deceives him/her by asking him/her to give Daawah to opposite gender in private!” and by the grace of Almighty Allah I immediately got reminded of myself. No! No! I am not saying that you are someone alien to Islam and its practices and it was me who was trying to get you acquainted with it, I don’t mean that, how can I? I apologise if you felt such. Honestly, if you ask me, you are one of the most pious people I have ever met. On the contrary, it was me who was inspired by you; you have left a deep impact on me and on my being. Thank you for that.

 Now about my recent awol, the reason was that very bayaan, I think I am crossing my limits as a friend (if you ever considered me one) and most importantly as a Muslim. It might be sooner or later that we might (God forbid) commit a grave sin and thus serve shaitan- the cursed one. I am not raising finger on your credibility, please don’t take it that way, I don’t mean that. I am merely pointing out predicaments we may (God forbid) find ourselves preoccupied in. To be really honest, I am pointing out to my weakness, I am not a Wali, and I am not a saint either, I am the worst sinner you can ever meet (why would you meet a sinner anyway? May Allah always save you from that. It was a preposterous question, forget it) and I fear I might fall in love with you or perhaps I already have, I fear being committed to someone, I fear to embark on a journey that has to be taken out in dark, I fear to arouse expectation in someone and then failing to fulfil them, I fear to hurt someone, I fear to break someone’s heart, I fear to be a futile hope, I fear to be myself!

I have always believed in love after marriage rather than before it. As I believe that it is much better to discover new things in your partner everyday for the rest of your life rather than knowing each and every trivial detail about her and then live a completely boring life afterwards. Some may argue that love before marriage saves you from high expectations of arranged marriage. And after failing to find those etiquettes, that behaviour you sought all your bachelor life in your life partner, you are dismayed and it always results in a divorce. Yes, maybe! But can those people who advocate such arguments confirm the fidelity of a love marriage?

Sorry, I did digress there. The point I want to make is that I don’t want to lose the one I love but I love you! I don’t know what I am writing. Sorry! Sorry again! If you felt offended. My apologies are doing overtime today. I didn’t write this letter (mail) to tell you how I perceive the world. I want to tell you that I think it’s better for both of us to never communicate again as our communication have evolved (digressed) from Islamic perspective to private perspective.

P.S Yes, I have never seen or heard you but I love you and I want my life partner to be exactly or Allah willing be better than you or if Allah wishes I want her to be You. And I wanted to ask you for a meeting but now I pray that if we ever met recognising each other then it either be our wedding or the jannah!

 

Tears rolled down Aisha’s eyes. Why was she crying? Did Abdullah give words to her thoughts? She sat down to compose a reply and it ran as: