Reading newspapers -- was something I adored since childhood. I don’t remember when I first started collecting newspaper cuttings but the oldest one with me dates back to 2007. I hold dear every piece of paper and treasure it in an album.
Newspapers have affected my life profoundly. Some days ago, while I was going through my album, I came across this cutting – preserved for years -- about Shopian double rape and murder case in 2009.
While sifting through others cuttings I realized how this piece of news changed my life in many ways.
Pictures of two young ladies in this cutting transported me back to the summer of 2009. It was a time when name of two places – Shopian and Rambair nalla, a place where bodies of two ladies were thrown after being raped and murdered, resonated in every alley of Kashmir.
Being a teenager this incident etched hard on my memory. It was sickening; it deprived me of my sleep for nights together; it pushed me into depression. I couldn’t come to the terms of how atrocious can an oppressor be.
That year was my first board exam and I too had night-mares though not because of fear of exams. It was the presence of the Indian Armed Forces’ at my place, Kashmir – which kept me awake -- all those nights.
I used dream of Asiya and Neelofar -- every night, surrounded by a bunch of men in uniform. It was my first such experience and believing it was becoming difficult for me.
Justice was evading and truth was heaped under falsehood. My days grew all the more gloomy, colorless, and barren. I would stare blankly on the walls. That was the only time when my tears would bring joy to my parents -- as my expressions were lost somewhere.
There was this fear breeding in my heart – a fear of being a girl; a fear of being in the same situation; a fear of pain of what Asiya and Neelofar would have been through.
I wanted to go to Shopian to know more about these two ladies and on one of those days I asked my Father to take me there -- which aptly surprised him.
At first he ignored my request -- as expected from any concerned parent. You never let your child, and that too an 8th grader, delve deep into a horrific incident like this one. But I was already in depression and my parents wanted to see me happy come what may.
I knew Rambiara would bring me peace but my family took me to all other places but to this stream. I went to school of Asiya but Rambiara was all on my mind and after my persistent insistence I was taken there.
I was at that spot where the bodies of Asiya and Neelofar were found. I just stood there motionless -- questioning my imagination how could one drown in ankle deep water.
I wanted to say something. It was something specific, but I wasn’t able to conjure up the words. Only thing I could do was just to gaze the water -- silently.
Tears finally began to trickle down and my family knew bringing me to Shopian was a right decision. I cried and cried for two days and began to feel returning to life but there was that sense of missing out on something.
In 2010 when summer erupted with Protests, Islamabad, my hometown, wasn’t an exception.
I saw a crowd passed by my home crying out Pro-Freedom slogans. One of the slogans was “Aasiyaa waali -- Aazadi. Neelofar waali -- Aazadi” (The Freedom that Asiya demanded, the Freedom that Neelofar demanded!).
It struck me hard. It brought back the same feeling and I followed the crowd in my imagination. I don’t know what I said, but it was surely what I had wanted to say, at Rambiara.
I just screamed! Azaadi!!!!!!!
(Insha is a blogger and a poetess from South Kashmir)