Dr. Nyla Ali Khan
I take great pride in the conviction of my ancestors who climbed every mountain and forded every stream to relay their political message of regional pride, Kashmiri nationalism, and assertion of people’s power.
I grew up seeing the flag of Jammu and Kashmir flying over the Secretariats in Kashmir and Jammu, as well as over my grandparents’ house.
I come from the once paradisiacal region that was coveted by kings and mystics alike, albeit for different reasons.
The region where snow-covered peaks majestically tower over flowing streams bordered by lilies gently swaying to the cadences of the gentle breeze.
But now my home, by a quirk of fate, has become a valley of turbulence.
I come from the beauteous land in which even a dull-witted writer could find her/his muse.
The land of majestic chinars, fragrant pine trees, and luxuriant weeping willows that provided harbor to those buffeted by the fates.
The land where mesmerizing gardens with their refreshing springs and breathtaking waterfalls bemoan the state of the the devastated people.
The palpable contrast between the enchanting beauty of Kashmir and the glazed eyes of its people is cruel.
The land in which dervishes meditated to willingly renounce the self is now a chessboard for wily politicians.
The strains of mystical music are now drowned out by the cacophonous sounds of hate and virulence.
The soothing fragrance of pine-covered hills has now been overwhelmed by the odor of uncertainty.
The tranquility of the region has been shattered by the heavy hand of political and military totalitarianism.
Thank You: A big shout out to Saba Shafi Makhdoomi for this beautiful t-shirt I wear for this story. It is a keepsake!
NOTE: Dr. Nyla is an Oklahoma educator whose native land, Kashmir, is presently under a form of martial law.