An Obituary for writing Obituaries: Who deserves one?

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A silent flute laden with a litany of moan am I, and if this escape my lips, it’s that I can silence them no more.

Ten years ago, for the past, the present and amiable future I had written an obituary. I was 20 years old then, and it was published in the yearly magazine of my college, Symbiosis College  of Commerce in Pune. When I look at it now, I believe that I was lucky to get away with it. In the present day and age, I would have been either lynched or beaten. So this obituary may also be dedicated to the expression that has been murdered in the past decade.

In other parts of the world, thirty years of life may not still seem painstaking enough to talk about death. However one needs to reconsider in perspective in Kashmir. Thirty years are hundreds of lucky escapes from this ruthless death. I do not mean to ruffle my friends in the tourism industry, as in, I do not mean to say that there is no wellbeing in Kashmir after all who can ignore huge hotels, palatial houses and the Audis, Range Rovers and the Toyotas. What I mean to say is that death is in our streets, is still at our doorstep, and is making inroads, time and again, into our houses. Our living rooms and bedrooms. In this situation, I salute the spirit of my people, who have not lost the vivacity for life, however, I still want to write an obituary.

But the question I often ask myself, and cannot find an answer to, is that who deserves an obituary?

The is no dearth of events which deserve obituaries in Kashmir, however I feel like granting myself at least this much freedom to start with myself only. Should I write an obituary dedicated to my generation which saw very little except blood and death?

I believe that would be egotism, and this obituary would not be safe for the public and me, because of the existence of the Public Safety Act (PSA) that keeps us safe, from the obituaries.

Let me instead, write for the sons of soil, who lost their lives, and were killed in fake encounters, buried in unmarked graves. Let me write an obituary, for the disappeared husbands, and their decrepit relatives. But how can I grant them this space when they are yet to be declared dead? Only the dead deserve an obituary. The only consideration showered upon them is by the ever evolving language, considerate enough for the titles of “half widow” and “half orphan”.

I also do remember the existence of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. It keeps the obituaries unwritten, undeserving.

Let me instead write an obituary for those who were killed because their ideologies were deemed problematic. But that would be taking sides and being biased.

Should I instead consider an obituary for the women of Kashmir, who have faced fathomless violations and need an obituary? Unfortunately to talk about rapes and sexual violence is a taboo and an issue “not to be discussed in public”.

But all those reasons do not frighten me, nor does the power that inflicts these crimes. What frightens me is the endless ability of our people to endure it, of ever increasing yards of graves.

After 10 years, I have failed to write an obituary.


Mir Dawar is a Masters of Marketing from University of London and  is a steel fabricator by profession.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir.


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