"The Braves Arise "
y grandfather, Bade Papa has taught me a lot. He has taught me things about a variety of topics, from life skills to mathematics; but the bits of information that I truly cherish are the stories of my heritage. I know from him many stories and yet the most interesting ones include his own; about how so many people from my homeland of Kashmir in India were driven out of their homes by religious extremists and terrorists but did not give up.
My father had been studying in a different state and had just started a new job there. My aunt and my grandmother were taking a family vacation in the warmer plains of India since it was the cold, winter season in mountainous Kashmir. My grandfather remained at the ancestral house for work reasons. It was for that time itself that the extremists had planned a major upheaval and in keeping with it started a wave of gruesome, planned killings. Even the harmonious people of the majority community were forced to come on the streets and shout scary slogans against the minority community that my parents belonged to. Dire warnings were issued to leave or die. My grandfather was involved by the government in its efforts and continued to stay in Kashmir. Many of the houses in his neighborhood were vandalized or even destroyed. People who he knew were being killed. At that point Bade Papa made the toughest decision of his life; he decided to leave his house and everything in it to take another offer outside the city. This way, he was also able to communicate freely with his family that was stuck in the plains, unable to return from travel planned only as a vacation.
Even after this major upheaval, life moved on. With his new job, my grandfather built a house for himself and my grandmother in another city. They lived there alone since both my father and my aunt had to move for their jobs and other reasons. They have carried on with their lives, avoiding the topic of their homeland, trying to show little emotional weakness relating to Kashmir. But even with all his efforts in carrying on, I can tell how much my Bade Papa loves Kashmir. I asked him if he could bring back one thing from Kashmir, what it would be. He said out of all the things, he would bring back his old pictures because those would be the only way of remembering the life he had once lived in his homeland, from the time of his birth.
I admire the spirit with which my Bade Papa rebuilt his life after losing his homeland. “Esperanza Rising” is a book that similarly shows how one can always make a new beginning in life. If Esperanza, the 12 year old heroine of the book had to write a Journal, she could make an entry as below:-
Esperanza’s Diary – Dated sometime in the 1930s
Life has been moving too fast. I don’t know if I can catch up. My Papa is gone. It has taken some time but I now understand what that means; Mama and I must fend for ourselves. We must make our new lives in California. Our future is in our hands. I still remember the day that Papa passed away. It was the day of the harvest. Life at the ranch was good. Being a ranch owner’s daughter had its perks. Papa let me harvest the first grape. As I cut the grapes off the vine, “La cosecha!” Papa yelled. Everyone rejoiced. Harvest time was my favorite time of the year.
As I continued on with my day, a rose thorn poked me. It was the bad omen that no one wanted the day before his or her birthday. Today, looking back on that day, the omen was worse than bad. This omen signified the complete altering of my life. Papa had left in the morning to work with the cattle. He did not come back. He would never come back. He was dead. It was a couple of bandits. I still wonder where I would be right now if it weren’t for those bandits. Could I be on our ranch, lying down, hearing the earth breathe, along with Papa? Just dreaming does no good, Papa is gone.
Tio Luis was given possession of the ranch. Technically, it meant that he was our landlord. Since Tio Luis had no sense of shame he burned down our house and our crop, hurting Abuelita. He then had the audacity to ask my mother to marry him. My mother had to agree for the sake of all of our workers. But luckily, before my mother could continue on with the marriage, we left with Alfonso, Hortensia, and Miguel from Mexico to California.
Now we are in California. Abuelita could not come with us because of her injury. I still try to feel the earth breathe. I cannot do it. I long for the ranch. I long for Papa. I long for Abuelita. They are no longer with me. But I am not afraid; there is nothing wrong with starting over.
*Arman Koul is a 12 years old, 7th grade student from Andover, MA. He enjoys reading, music and sports, not necessarily in that order.
|Copyrights © 2007 Shehjar online and KashmirGroup.com. Any content, including but not limited to text, software, music, sound, photographs, video, graphics or other material contained may not be modified, copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, or distributed in any form or context without written permission. Terms & Conditions.
My Dear Little Armando, This is a very moving and thoughtful article and shows how my little Arman is growing into a matured man. Lots of Love from your friend Sanjay Uncle
Added By Sanjay Kaul
Our little Armando is really amazing in his writings as well as thoughts. God bless him and his proud parents.
Added By Deepak Ganju
Though not born in the Kashmir you seem to have gripped the grief and trauma of your forefathers who were hunted out of salubrious Kashmir by fundamentalist terrorists for no fault of theirs.You know why?It is because you love the charming land of your ancestors.It is wonderful that you hail their spirit to start afresh as Asperaza did in Asperaza Rising.
Added By pushkar ganjoo