Just the other day, I read a very touching essay by a friend in which he describes the all-pervasive sadness of growing up in Srinagar. He talks about the beauty of his city, its ancient culture and architectural landmarks, its closeness to nature, and even its spirituality if that is what one seeks. But more than anything he talks about how even as a small boy he never quite felt any real lightness of being because the ghosts of history were always walking right next to him no matter where he went or in which direction.
It became clear to me then that it is this very sadness that after a while one can no longer do without and which becomes the main ingredient of one’s relationship with Kashmir and the people.
I was luckier than most to be able to escape for a little while each day to my house in the mountains whenever I thought I might burst into a thousand pieces.
There were many days when I came home exhausted from feeling sad, happy, angry, and worried and all felt at the same time. But just sitting in my garden and listening to the silence instantly allowed me to stop holding my breath. It was there where I could pretend that all was fine outside the gate before once again facing the onslaught of the other emotions that encapsulate you wherever you go accompanied by the ghosts that never leave your side for a minute. And it is in that house in the Zabarwan Mountains of Srinagar where my heart is buried, and I am sure it will stay there for eternity. Some love affairs never end. And some lovers can never be replaced.