“KAISE ROK PAAOGE MUJHE; NAHIN ROK PAOGEMAIN NAHIN TUMHARE GAON KI EK CHHOTI SI NEHAR, HUN KHWAAB AUR KHWAHISHON SE BHARA HUA SAMANDAR; MERI IN UFANTI LEHRON SANG TUM BHI BEH JAOEGE, KAISE ROK PAAOGE MUJHE NAHIN ROK PAOGE“…….By Mehvish Maqbool
I am Mehwish Makbul – a normal Kashmiri girl with an opinion, which I normally would keep to myself like many of my other friends. In a society which tries so hard to make all women look and act the same (physically, mentally, emotionally); writing this piece offers me a catharsis to break out of the normal mold and finding my true self. Last year, I was selected to go to Delhi from my school in Anantnag, as I won an interschool quiz contest. In spite of the fact that our team outdid the other schools with a high margin, there happened a great hue and cry among the selectors (few from my own school too) about the fact that how could a girl be sent outside the state. “Mubeen (my teammate) ke saath Mehwish ki jagah Jaaved ko bhej dete hain”, said one of the selectors. “Allah ka shukra tha ki final judges ne yeh bolkar unki request kharij kar di ki Mehwish ka selection kaabiliyat par hua hai kismet par nahin” and finally I could go to Delhi.
I felt like the little child from the poem “Foreign Lands” by RL Stevenson, wherein the protagonist wants to see the far-off land that the grownups kept telling her that it doesn’t exist, except that it does; only it was my own country land with my own country people. I must say I got mesmerized by Delhi and its immenseness and no sooner did we arrive that I along with other girls from different states set off to explore the city. We watched this comical play “sister act” at India habitat centre which made me laugh my lungs out. Then we went to a book fare and to my astonishment there were mountains of books under the same roof. This was like a fairy land to me and suddenly I realized that I was not awe struck by this huge city but by a simple fact that here girls like me can venture out, watch plays and movies, follow sports and the most important thing that they are NOT scared to dream. I wanted to scream out loud and ask those who shouts slogans about Azadi, “why am I not allowed to dream”? Shouldn’t that be the first and foremost rule of azadi? I want a dream, not a delusion.
Back home things got distressing for my family as everyone in the neighborhood was targeting them for sending their daughter outside the state. As much as I wanted to tell people about my visit, my mother was hell bent on hiding it. She cautioned me “Koi bhi kuch puche to bolna hai ki bas school ka program attend kiya, ghumne phirne ki baat bolna bilkul mat.” My abbu who was smiling while seeing the pictures of my trip, raised his head and said “kyon bachhi ko apnon se jhoot bolne ko keh rahi hai, Purdah gairon se hota hai apnon se nahi.” I felt so lucky to have a progressive minded abbu but all of a sudden this thought struck my mind that aren’t most of the Kashmiri girls forced to live a surreptitious life where all our aspirations and desires are hidden by an invisible Purdah. I want to tell my people about my hopes and aspirations and I don’t want a purdah for that.
I wrote about my trip and along with the pictures exhibited it among my friends. Their eyes got all sparkled up with hopes, desires, aspirations and there I saw dreams sprouting without a delusion.
“You have to dream before your dream comes true” by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam