It so happened that on a lazy afternoon when air over Pratap Park was tart and dry, a certain lanky guy from the city named Buchuss and his chubby friend from a town Butichuss entered into a long conversation. It was long like Srinagar-Jammu highway with its terrifying hairpin bends, vertigo inducing long slopes and deathly gorges and what not. They were our normal Kashur Nawjawaan. But with beautiful coveted degrees from MERC and, true to their acquired wisdom, on most of the human issues they were no babes in the woods. They spoke about Kashmiri politics (suggested tweaks in this policy and that policy of resistance movement, cursed pro-accession politicians plague in their portly bellies) and then about Kashmiri traffic (built wonderful dreamland of flyovers and four lane roads behind their eyes) and then about Kashmiri culture (wondered how come Kaken and Ded got addicted to Star Plus and Colors, and how nice of the girls wearing long chiffon abayas lately).
All of a sudden a scurrying damsel in ash-grey sweatshirt and denim jeans behind the park railings arrested their attention. On the sweatshirt of the lady flashed in black letters: I Don’t Care a Dime! They carefully navigated the hairpin bend of their tête-à-tête highway. As the sight of the charming beauty trailed off, their demurring faces assumed an expression of abrupt seriousness.
‘Kasheer gai waraan’ (Kashmir has gone to the dogs), said Buchuss.
‘Yi chui karaan sourui Hindustan’ (India engineers all this mischief), reasoned Butichuss.
They pouted their mouths in a nod of agreement. ‘Just because of these patloon lasses’, a man-sitting close by interjected, ‘the flood drowned us all.’
They pouted their mouths again. Some time passed.
‘I think Bub should retire now’, suggested Butichuss.
‘No’ said Buchuss, ‘Bub is needed now more than ever. Right wing monkeys hover dangerously over our heads.’
‘Hmm. You’re right we need to get united urgently and present a strong resistance against these monkeys,’ replied Buchuss.
For next ten minutes, they talked about unity, strength and resistance. They recalled a moral tale in their middle school textbook about a man and his five sons and the task of breaking the bundle of twigs. In their eyes and minds, everything was clear: Kashmir needed unity, more than ever. Now. They nodded in agreement about everything they said with their peculiar puckered up faces.
A spell of silence followed. During this time they yawned, kept looking around in vague expressions at scurrying pedestrians and overcrowded and honking public buses, took drags at shared cigarette, and broke winds in surreptitious discomfiture. The spell of their smoky dragging silence was broken by a stout middle-aged man sitting at the earshot from them. From the movement of his jaw, it seemed as if under his horse teeth innocent roasted chickpeas were being mercilessly crushed.
‘Only if our country cousins desist from lining to polling booths, we could make India dance’, the man said with a vague expression.
‘I think you are right, baaya’, said Buchuss, nodding his head.
Butichuss’s face turned colour, his breath paced up and his eyes darted the green of the park in nervous movements.
‘I think you are unfair here,’ Butichuss protested.
‘Why! This is true. You got to accept the fact. It is the country dwellers who make our resistance weak’.
‘Most of the mujahids come from villages, what about that?’ snapped Butichuss.
Their conversational highway suddenly hit a vertigo inducing long slope and their ride veered dangerously close to the edge of a deathly gorge.
The chickpea chewing man had his back to them and his face was now working like a smiling goat.
And all of a sudden Buchuss yelled out at Butichuss, ‘You should shut your stinking rustic mouth.’
‘You should just get lost with your snooty city ass,’ Butichuss yelled back.
In the sleepy air of Pratap Park their voices skirled and stirred the dreamy tranquility of the catnapping commoners. In their half-woken state the commoners checked the source of the noise, said feebly, ‘Yiman kya rov’ (What is wrong with them!) and went back to their forty winks.
Gasping MERC buddies didn’t talk for good five minutes. But as the day seemed to fall, they scrambled themselves up, stretched their bodies, and looked around. The chickpea guy had disappeared.
‘Where to drink tea today?’ said Butichuss in a reconciliatory tone.
‘I don’t have money, Wallah. Today’s tea is on you’, said Buchuss with a timid smile.
Through the Abi Guzar lane they walked with their arms around each other’s shoulders, and settling down on flat chairs of coffee house, Buchuss asked, ‘So…’
First piece of my Kashmir Laundry column in Kashmir Reader newspaper; published on 29.01.2015