For a long time, a gap between two curtains was a major issue in our home. My late mother used to get upset and scolded us for not drawing the curtains properly. It didn’t matter to her that all the windows and doors were shut. Every evening, she would take a round of the house to ensure everything was firmly closed—her measure to keep her children safe from the searching eyes of forces patrolling on the road nearby. Over the years, we all built all kinds of walls around ourselves to protect our walled existence.
Reading Farah Bashir’s Rumours of Spring brought back memories of growing up in Kashmir in the 1990s--memories I hated. A friend would tell us that ours is a fight against forgetfulness. But it seems we exist because of our habit to drown ourselves in the sea of forgetfulness. Rumours of Spring recalls that searing Kashmiri memory. Bashir reminds us how 1990 changed everything--the way we talk and sit; decisions like when to open a window or not; how and when to walk on the road. A mere walk became a cause of anxiety. People started following ‘rules’ without even realising their existence. You were not supposed to look at a soldier; you are supposed to look down and walk on. Scarves made women feel protected; pherans made men vulnerable. And a whole set of protocols involving burials and funerals.