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Survival he may look silent and weak

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Survival was more important than
resistance as the narrator became the reluctant

collaborator. Survival is a natural and
biological impulse of every living being. Almost

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every activity of living beings is
biologically calculated for survival and evolution of life.

Struggle for survival is universal but
humanity is unique as it strives beyond mere

physical existence. Struggle for survival
sharpens human intellect and leads to further

invention of various strategies for
survival. A survivor is a determined and committed

self to thwart any threat to his life and
dignity. An elevated notion of identity and

morality busts a survivor to fight the
debilitating and destructive forces. A survivor does

not mean a superman or heroic warrior; he
may look silent and weak from outside but he

keeps on employing various strategies
against the anti-life surrounding without losing his

identity and human character. During his
first visit down in the valley, he is horrified at

the prospect of his job. The area is full
of dead bodies, both intact and dismembered.

These bodies; some huddled together and
others forlorn are in various stages of their

decay and are surrounded by yellow
flowers. The dreadful sight of the dead bodies makes

him cry and he wants someone to give a
proper funeral to these rotting corpses. The

description of protagonist’s visit to the
valley of corpses is written in most harrowing and

haunting prose.

I look at the few corpses and am
immediately horrified at the

prospects of what my first ever job
entails. There are bare wounds, holes

dark and visceral, and limbless, armless,
even headless, torsos. . . . There

are erstwhile legs and arms and backbones
and ribcages surrounded by

sparkling swathes of yellow created by the
thousands and thousands of

flowers all across the valley. . .

It makes me cry, it makes me want to run
away, to disappear. . . .

And these people die, after all. Someone
has to pay visit, pay respect—

offer
a secret fateha. (page 7-11)

While at his frightening work involving
dismembered corpses, his thoughts vacillate

between macabre present and idyllic past.
After an evening consorting with the bodies in

‘no man’s land, the narrator while picking
his way back to home is reminded of his past.

His past consisted of relatively peaceful
time preceding the militancy. The protagonist

revisits his happy childhood, where he
spent an enjoyable childhood with his four close

friends; Hussain, Gul, Mohammed and Ashfaq
forming famous five. Growing up with his

friends in the village he used to play
cricket on lush green fields, swim in fresh waters

and listen to the Bollywood songs sung by
his closest friend, Hussain. They all used to

loiter the village streets without caring
for anyone in the world. They are shown spending

their childhood among the idyllic capes of
snow clad mountains, babbling brooks, blue

skies, greener meadows, etc. But soon
their beautiful and peaceful world was turned

upside down with the stirrings of
insurgency in Kashmir. Their happiness vanished, when

militancy in Kashmir found its way to
their village. The stories about how young men

wronged by the defense authority cross the
border to get training and return as freedom

fighters to avenge upon India reached
their village. The whole village resonated with the

stories of the brutalities of defense
authorities across the whole Kashmir. There is

description about a village, Poshpur where
all boys from the village disappeared and

crossed the border to get armed training:

I’d heard stories of how hundreds of young
men— excited, idealistic

teenagers; hurt, angry boys wronged by
police or army action; vengeful

brothers with raped sisters and mothers at
home; . . . had been leaving

home everywhere and joining the Movement
by walking the perilous walk

across the border to receive arms and
training and return as militants, as

freedom fighters. . . . All the boys from
Poshpur are gone, gone, no one

left in the village, it’s empty now, all empty!
It’s all happening, dear,

happening everywhere. (24).

The major reason to cross the Line of
Control of teenagers to get arm and become the freedom fighters to fight with
Indian forces for revenant of their brutalities. Kashmiris are enduring tyrony of
Indian authorities for their survival at all forms.  Indian forces have committed
many human rights abuses and acts of terror against Kashmiri civilian
population including extrajudicial killing, rape, torture and enforced disappearances.

 

With this the
distant cries of Azadi (freedom movement) started echoing in this

secluded region,
Nowgam. These things had great impact on the psyche of young boys

and they started
crossing the border into Pakistan for armed training imparted by various

militant
organizations. Narrator’s friends were no exception, they too lured by freedom

movement crossed
the Line of Control without informing him. He could not come to the

term with the
sudden disappearance of the group of his childhood friends smuggled

across the border
to militant’s training camp. The first to disappear among them was

Hussain. His
sudden departure came as a jolt to him. Missing and worrying constantly

about his friend,
he could not be at peace with everyone’s reconciliation of Hussain’s

crossing the
border. He could not understand his motives for crossing over into Azad

Kashmir and longed
for his resumption of their bond. Since Hussain was a kind of person

who could not be
swayed easily, this made him believe that there was something else

behind his beloved
friend’s disappearance:

While everyone
seemed sort of reconciled to Hussain’s going across the

border, and many
even admired him for being the first one from the

village, I just
couldn’t be at peace with it. . . . What made him „join? , how

had it all come
about, who was behind it? Although he could be somewhat

impressionable at
times, he wasn’t someone swayed so easily. (57)

He was driven by
the desire to find out, one way or another to get information

about Hussain. The
first person he sought help to know about Hussain is Gul. Both Gul

and Hussain used
to go home together in the evening after all friends? usual huddle in the

street before
parting. At Gul’s place narrator came to know that there were people

residing in the
mountains who helped young boys in crossing Line of Control. These

people acted as
guides since they knew the mountainous routes very well. Gul came to

know about a man,
Shaban Khatana whose son, Rehman helped young boys to cross

border. After Hussain
disappearance others teenagers Gul, Muhammad and Ashfaq also follow him. The
devastation that befell village after their departure was like a nightm

x

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