By Nyla Ali Khan
This generation of Kashmiris is war-weary, embittered, and despondent.
I would venture to say that we crave a world in which social justice, political enfranchisement, cultural pride, and self-realization are the order of the day.
I yearn for a world in which the living tradition of legends, myths, fables of yore, is resuscitated, reviving the imaginative life of Kashmir.
Myths and legends have, historically, been the collective expression of a people’s identity, enabling them to voice their cultural reality.
The recuperation of a culture, the re-invigoration of Kashmir’s rich heritage, and the revival of Kashmir’s mythos, might not heal the greatly mauled body politic overnight, but it would certainly provide a much-needed step in the right direction.
In the greatly circumscribed “narrative public space” of contemporary Kashmir, folklorists and storytellers don’t enjoy the free rein that they did years ago, which is why multigenre and layered narratives would provide a much needed breath of fresh air.
Also, Jammu and Kashmir is a conglomerate in which regional, communal, and ethnic divides have been exacerbated in the wake of the recent happenings in the state.
I emphasize that these seemingly unbridgeable chasms underline the need for interdisciplinary academic interventions that seek to bridge the divide between the three parts of the state as well as explore historical linkages with parts of the state in Pakistan.
An Afterword from Patrick B. McGuigan, Publisher of The City Sentinel, founder of CapitolBeatOK
The words you wrote about the importance of “the living tradition” are true in every great world culture. Living traditions are or should be a part of daily life. Parents or other ‘wise ones’ best preserve and pass on the stories, legends, myths and fables that make the past live on in human hearts and in the imaginations of those who love and care for children. Others can assist. Some friends in this time and place call you “our Nyla.” You are near and dear to us. Until some sort of rational restoration of liberty is allowed in Kashmir, perhaps here, among your Oklahoma friends and neighbors, seeds of a better future can take root, to be nourished and sustained for that day, God willing, of restoration.