Between my shadow and my soul

For Kay, who unknowingly taught me that a quote is a springboard rather than a statement or summary

2 of the most profound quotes from my trip

1. Jeetey Raho-

This was told to me by a Kashmiri shopkeeper when I shuddered at the soldiers with huge guns outside his, and every other shop. The meaning is roughly equivalent to Dory from Finding Nemo's phrase "just keep swimming". Kashmir was a bit of a prejudice-shock to me. Somewhere in my head I had always likened the place to Palestine but it was vastly different. Yeah, I'm also a product of the Muslim soda water emotion effect- getting all heated up without knowing the facts on the ground. Here is what I wrote after my first walk around Lal Chowk in Srinagar-

The fear is on people's lips that never move. Not to ask my name, or where I'm from or to return my smile. More the men than the women. The men's eyes are filled with a dark thunder, repressed, that stops them from seeing me. I wonder if they see each other.

This i quickly found to be simply a projection on my part after speaking to a friend's relative and our tour guide. Yes the election period was tense and soldiers with guns were everywhere. But not all of the people felt occupied and invaded like in Palestine. In Palestine people spoke freely of their troubles and their political affiliations and frustrations. In Kashmir there was so much uncertainty in the current generation. Yes, their forefathers had died for freedom, but under indian rule their families were eating much better than those in "Azad kashmir" (Pakistan-controlled Kashmir). They knew that India's booming tourist industry would flesh out their worn-out pockets. They were noxiated by how terrorism had degraded their country's honour and name. And I had to ask myself, for all the theoretical idealist I believe myself to be, where does one cross the line between pragmatism and valour? Is it not more sinful to die of starvation than to eat haraam meat when there is no other food available? I am no expert on kashmir. But in the brief 2 and a half days I spent there, this is the prevailing mood i felt.

2. A Child Gives Birth to a Mother

This was ripped from a memorial to someone on a street in Kolkata. One thing I love about India are the hand painted well-meaning signs that adorn the streets with quirky messages and the even quirkier respectful way everyone igonores them, like Don't Listen to Rumours, or Let's be Rational, Don't be Emotional. Phrases like don't take photographs in a sound and light show or aquarium are, as soon as officials are out of reach, responded to with a flurry of flashes.

Anyways, back to the quote. The simplicity of the statement contains what i feel to be a fundamental truth about human relationships. When I was 14 years old my brother in law donated his kidney and my sister had to nurse him through the painful recovery process. My one year old nephew had for the first time in his life, leave him mum and come to Pretoria from Durban. it was a nightmare and somewhere in between his screams and my patience, he started to call me mummy. I was on june holidays and his chubby frame soon became inseperable from my slender hip. And so it was, without my permission or desire. he had created a Mother. Whatever I ate, he did. When I left a room, he stumbled after me. And every neice or nephew thereafter regarded me as a surrogate because of the boy who is now taller than me and stronger than me and yet still hugs me like a lost one year old. And so, every person we meet, creates something in us that never was before, whether drastic or complementary, painful or exhilarating. And by accepting this and being open to it, we realise that relationships are to be embraced, not feared.

5 shared ideas:

Saaleha Bamjee-Mayet January 2, 2009 at 10:44 PM  

I loved these capsules, a journey of self in so many ways.

Khadija January 2, 2009 at 11:04 PM  

If I did a post like Waseem's celebrating the bests, this post would have my vote. And nothing to do with the dedication, though I am honored madamoiselle, this has a spell binding quality to it. There's a unique sort of feeling that is implicit to your writing here and tangible to your reader.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." Mark Twain
Far may your travels take you yet and many may the lessons it brings be.

I love Singapore airport.... ;)

ooh word verification says "tramp"

Waseem January 5, 2009 at 8:27 AM  

Being taller than you isn't much of an achievement :)

Is this post only to say you couldnt get me what I wanted? So disappointing. I, with my unknowledgable opinion, think Kashmir isnt Jihad, cos the people themselves, not sure if they want freedom.

In regards to Kay, Nooj came close to being my best blog, but all those emo poems and gay banners lost it for her :D

Azra January 5, 2009 at 10:49 AM  

"And so, every person we meet, creates something in us that never was before, whether drastic or complementary, painful or exhilarating. And by accepting this and being open to it, we realise that relationships are to be embraced, not feared."

I always advocate that people come and go in our lives to teach us things about ourselves and the world at large. We are not islands, and we can never be truely independant.

Nooj January 6, 2009 at 12:59 PM  

Saaleha- it would be sad if travel was only for the sake of status, if we only went on guided tours in artificial tourist areas and only spoke to rehearsed tour guides. I think it is when we attempt to feel a place that we reap such treasures

Khadija- such an honour! u and parasputin are my best blogs so for u to admire my writing is a compliment of the highest regard. May we both be blessed bint battutas iA :)

Was- I'm sorry I tried lol. Gay banner says the dude with red japanese flowers on his template :P

Azzy- which is why we will be the public relations department of the Kajee express :)