Last week I read the sad news of the death of Sajjad Iqbal. I had never met Sajjad and my thoughts immediately turned to his father, Iqbal Khandey, whom I happened to know very well. The grief and suffering of Iqbal can only be unfathomable. The void left behind by the loss of his son is the one that can never ever be filled. All one can do in this hour of grievous loss is to wish Iqbal peace and power to endure unendurable. As I mentioned I had never met Sajjad but courtesy a facebook friend (Dilnaz Boga) I read an article written by him “Long drive to freedom” and published in Kashmir Dispatch. The article started with a poem by Agha Shahid Ali
“We shall meet again in Srinagar,
by the gates of the Villa of Peace,
our hands blossoming into fists
till the soldiers return the keys and disappear.
Again we’ll enter our last world,
the first that vanished
in our absence from the broken city.
We’ll tear our shirts for tourniquets,
and bind the open thorns,
warm the ivy into roses.
Quick, by the pomegranate – the bird will say –
Humankind can bear everything.”
And once I went through the article, a convulsing realization dawned on me that it is not only Iqbal who lost his son; Kashmir has lost an intellectual with a sharp and analytic mind. The manner and depth with which he had articulated the reality of Kashmir could only come from a person of high caliber. The travesty is that he was only twenty seven years old. But after reading his article I also realized that freedom struggle in Kashmir has come long way; and that struggle has become way of life and state through its apparatus of repression has only stiffened the resolve of the suppressed population. And the clichéd silver lining is that there is a whole young generation of people who are able to understand and more importantly articulate Kashmir in a rational form. The rationality of the youth from Kashmir set them apart from the irrationality of Indian establishment and mainstream Indian media who at its best spreads ignorance and in their worst form don’t even hold back from demonizing the entire population of Kashmir. Sajjad Iqbal represented the young generation of intellectuals in Kashmir; even though he is not there anymore but his writings will always be there to inspire youngsters in the valley. His writings and his work will always be source of pride for aggrieved parents.