Kashmir: A Postcard with an Address

Their bodies have not been found. Their hands and eyes and skin and shirts and shoes and books and identities have not been found. They have not been declared dead by the Indian State or its armed forces

Amit Sengupta Delhi

If you are looking for a didactic, self-righteous message from filmmaker Nilosree Biswas, then this short film on Kashmir’s infinite, finite, relentless pain and resistance, is not the template you should be looking for. Broken Memory… Shining Dust: If there is a message, it is subsumed in the lucid sub-text of the camera, and in the resilience of Kashmir’s people, especially those women who have lost their beloved ones in the ravaged twilight zones of history.

If the conjecture that there will be one day a sound of hope – and all of them are eternally waiting for that familiar sound of a shuffle, or footsteps, the rustling of clothes, and that knock on the door or window, even while snow falls in torrents like ancient whispers of solitary soliloquy – then that conjecture of optimism has definitely been squashed by the successive heartless regimes in Srinagar and Delhi.

And yet, the longing and the struggle remains as that sound of hope, like all the sounds of silence in the valley and beyond, across the endless expanse of amazing purity, at once sad and beautiful, trapped by the four seasons of great expectations.

Pablo Neruda and Rilke’s poetry recited by Heeba Shah move like the camera’s slow, unwinding angst, as nuanced as the images, as the mothers of disappeared boys and men move from frozen tears to saline tears, solitary embrace to solidarity embrace, emptiness to eternal emptiness, and God’s many residences scattered across India; they move from the uncountable, innumerable, impossible pillars and posts of (in)justice and democracy, this jail and that jail across the Indian states, that cop station to that interrogation chamber, this politician to that visionary statesman, clutching dry straws, just about floating, across long journeys, often trapped in stark poverty and despair.

They have tried all that, and they are all still waiting, for the countless who vanished into the blue, even as they picked up their bags and told their mothers, “Will be back soon.”

How soon, not even God knows. It’s been a long and terrible wait. Their bodies have not been found. Their hands and eyes and skin and shirts and shoes and books and identities have not been found. They have not been declared dead by the Indian State or its armed forces. There are no graves or mortuaries that can spell-check the story of their life and times.

There are no graves or mortuaries that can spell-check the story of their life and times

There are only these great women of destiny left behind, holding hands, making food in the smoke, looking out of the window into Kashmir’s pristine landscape, waiting for a knock on the door, at least for the full knowledge of the destiny of their loved ones. The film tells the story of this epic battle. Parveena’s epic quest, and the many stories of many homes ravaged forever.

And yet, they will not accept defeat. Never. One day he will return. And then, they will hold up his picture, like a postcard with an address.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MAY 2012