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Far far away

I'm in office right now. Waiting for the pages to come in so that I can upload them on to the website. And then I can leave. It's quiet today here, with the TVs switched off, half the people gone and the office strangely quiet for what is actually dead line time.

My mind on the other hand is far away. In Kashmir and Ladakh.

I remember Yusmarg valley and the drive to get there. How I wanted to get off the bus and walk there among the grassy meadows, dotted with sheep and little log cabins, ringed by dense pine forests with awe-inspiring snow capped mountains towering behind.

I remember the way my heart sang when we walked into Yusmarg and witnessed the river gurgling by, singing a merry little song. Of panting up one crest in the meadow with wild ponies cantering around and running crazily down the other side only to be ankle deep in a pool of mud.

Of sitting by the river in a little alcove formed by rocks, scribbling in my little notebook and then lying back and quietly humming A Hundred Miles and One Day At A Time. Two of my favourite hymns. They always make me feel at peace and calm, which is not something many things can do.

Kashmir has captured a part of my soul in a way few other places have. It called out to me and laid claim. It made me want to dig in and never leave. To fix all that ailed it and polish it until it was bright and beautiful and sparkling again.

It made me shed silent tears. It made me a feel like a foreigner in my own country. It made me realise how much my eyes needed to be open, how little I actually knew. How little I understood.

Of walking through one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen in India and only later knowing the pain that lay hidden as I heard the students of the law faculty speak about what they had to endure not just at the hands of militants but the Army. Of their voices brimming over with frustration and despair.

Kashmir calls out to me every time I read a news report about blasts and clashes. My heart bleeds a little for the valley every time I hear it and Mynie said it here, summarizing all we felt, that I don't think anything I could ever write would top it.

I think the only hope for the people of Kashmir now is a referendum. Autonomy, Pakistan or India, whatever they choose, as long as they're able to breathe easier and live happier without a military presence around every corner. Without the hassles of convoys and curfews.

And if they choose autonomy, we have no one to blame but ourselves.


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