30 odd year old journalist by profession., nearing six feet lanky frame, he really looked fragile. Yet there was strength of character that spoke through the fragility. A commitment, what the poets called “Junoon” he was the boy who lived. Who lived to tell the tale. The story that’s been growing in his heart, the characters he could not keep out of his, the tale that spoke to him, that popped into his head during his daily commute, the tale that woke him up the morning.
“i want to leave the valley, Riana sahib” Sameer said, his articulate honesty was draped in a soft tone making it difficult to take offense.
“are you running away?” Sameer was silent.
“”not running away” he said, after a while “I need fresh air, somewhere to think. ”
“have you begun to doubt.”
Good, retorted Raina, “one thing all these years taught me, is you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in”
“Sameer, men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief. Obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living organic, believing community, active in filling some unfilled, perhaps unrealized. Not when they are escaping to the Wild West or as in your case to dilli, the most unfortunate souls go west and shout of freedom”
“Raina sahib, you are Dilli talking, take walk on the road, what reigns is fear, what every one of us want here in Kashmir, is freedom from fear, and talking won’t change it. But sometimes that is what we want to do the most, to tell someone, often many just want to escape those feeling, escape themselves so there is no pain, no fear, no ugliness.”
“we have seen every kind of terror, here, the so called paradise on earth.”
“Raina Saab, there are three kinds of terror, as Stephen King put it, the gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, its when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And last and worst one, Terror: when you come home and notice everything you won had and been away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around there’s nothing there… that the kind of terror we have been living in since we don’t know when.”
Raina kept quiet not knowing what to say, for Sameer had summed it up perfectly,
“ and, I, am the voice of my generation, Raina Saab, ”Sameer acknowledged softly ”I choose to write because it is perfect for me. It’s an escape, a place I can go to hide. It’s a friend, when I feel outcaste from everyone else. It’s healing, when everything seemed so messed up. its at times fun when life is just flat out boring.”
“so you have decided to move out, but silence is not a natural environment for stories. They need words. Without them they grow pale sicken and die. And they haunt.”
“Not really, but to take a sabbatical, its time my story is heard.”
Sameer had walked up to the gate by now, stepping out he said ”I could not stop talking because now I have started my story, it wants to finished. We choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us. Chris Cleave is right in this observation.”