While Habba Khatoon, a 16th-century Kashmiri Muslim poet and ascetic, lamented in the memory of her beloved, the current generation of Kashmiri artists too have poured out their emotions and acted as a reflection of the societal mood and happenings.
Social media’s advent has only added to this trend—encouraging new talent to give voice to their deep-set lamentation.
Kashmiris have found ways to express their opinion and views through newspapers, radio, television and social networking websites by producing content that touches the politics and repercussions of life in a conflict zone.
A very common themes in the songs produced lately, is how people lose their loved ones, how those who are left behind suffer in pain, how protests emerge, and how everything goes back to ‘normal’ in a jiffy.
This is an endless cycle.
While songs and poetry can be depicted differently on individual levels, here are 8 songs compiled by Free Press Kashmir’s special correspondent.
Most of these songs are produced by Alif, a Kashmiri and Urdu music, poetry and performance band, whose art revolves around reflecting different aspects of the society in Kashmir.
1. Kya Karie Korimol
Weddings in Kashmir have reached a point where extravagance is a norm. And as a social comment on Kashmiri marriages, Alif released a single “Kya Karie Korimol” (What will a girl’s father do?) on October 31.
“Someone cooks one quintal of meat, someone else cooks two. To meet the peer pressure, the bride’s father is to blame who?” translate a few lines from the song.
While marriages pave way for a new generation, the older one can only pray for it to be safe, as depicted by another song “Like a Sufi” by Alif.
2. Like A Sufi
Sung by MC Kash and Alif, the song is about longing, a promise and a prayer to meet a loved one.
The rap by Kash talks about Kashmiri women, represented by the name of Haleema. Amid the deaths and curfews in the vale, she prays for her children to be safe.
“Youngest son of Haleema was born in a curfew. Sweat drips from her neck. Baby loves the perfume. I mean look for sure, her whole world is a conflict where machine guns roar and she can’t stop it. So, she holds him tight. Never far from her sight. Prays five times a day. Let her children be safe. May they see the light of the day… Let her children be safe,” raps MC Kash.
The music video was released on 101 India website on 21 June 2016 and won the Best Music Producer (Independent) at the eleventh edition of Indian Recording Arts Academy Awards at the Palm Expo 2017.
As the child grows up and survives the dance of death, he begins asking questions as reflected by another Alif song: Hukus Bukus.
3. Hukus Bukus
The lyrical video makes one imagine a Kashmiri child telling a story of his childhood, asking untouched questions. Questions about his father (lost in the conflict). He ultimately wants to go to his father.
“What is it there? I want to go there. Who will take me there? There lies my desire, my boat. Should I go by myself or will you accompany? Why is it so crowded here?” translates the song.
The rap by MC Kash in between paints the story of children who grow in conflict.
“What is it there? I want to go there. Who will take me there? There lie my toys, my childhood is buried there. I want to meet my father there,” the song ends on these lines.
Those consumed by the conflict are missed by their loved ones who wish for them to come back—at least, once again, as illustrated by another Alif song: Lalnawath (Cradling).
The song has won the 8th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival-18 held in Delhi NCR and revolves around the concept of the other side of life, a celebration of the darkness.
“The people around us: beloveds or anyone or dreams, you take them for granted. And they go away. And when they do, you find yourself having this conversation with them saying: Why don’t you just come back one last time, I will cradle you“, says Mohammad Muneem, the songwriter.
But with more and more killings, the songs depict the side of the story of the dead ones. An example of this would be the song ‘Mouji’.
5. Mouji (Mother)
A song written & sung by Fayiz Zargar shows the journey of how a mother raises her son. And when he grows up, ready to face the world, he gets killed, leaving behind the mother, who is as good as dead.
In the song, the son asks her mother not to cry and look at other sons who left their mothers behind.
“Stop lamenting O’ mother and witness O’ mother! How many beloveds’ relinquished their mothers…,” deciphers a line from the song.
“Mother seeks the whereabouts of her son… uttering “O beloved! O, beloved!” The mother is sympathized by enunciating that he is a thwarting the firmaments… The beloved’s martyrdom has emancipated you from fiery flames…Oared your boat out of turbulence… And betokened heavens upon you O’ mother…Bestowed the highest abode for you O’ mother Now, stop lamenting O’ mother and witness the highness he endowed upon you…”
The other Kashmiris left behind are not left with many options. They mourn, protest or resume their life.
6. I Protest
Roushan Illahi aka MC Kash gained popularity as a young Kashmiri rapper during the 2010 uprising, when he released this English rap song—I Protest.
The song is a telling comment on establishment and state of affairs in Kashmir: “I protest against the things you’ve done. I protest for a mother who lost her son. I protest I will throw stones and never run. I protest until my freedom has come. I protest against the brother who is dead. I protest against the bullet in the head. I protest I will throw stones and never run. I protest against the brother who is dead.”
People eventually forget about the killings. And move on. The ones who have suffered a loss, pray and mourn for all their lives.
7. Roumut Daiwanaie
Sung by Alif, the song is lament on life and living in Kashmir:
“Would he hear me, give me faith Fill me with Noor and Aid my ears to listen to call of prayers
Distressed I have lost you would you tell me? Why, in my heart have I buried your blessing
Night of blessings is upset Morning night all day it feels I have become a bazaar
And if you are upset with me Let me treat you with a meal, it’s Friday tomorrow
I have worn sickness like a blanket in your yearning
I have lost my beloved O listen to my story”
The song by Alif is specifically about the women of Kashmir:
“Kusu boze kaswane naar ha loug Jhelumas (Is anyone listening? Who can I tell? My river is on fire!) Khotsan chas be yer ma gas Jhelumas (And I fear I shall slip into its waters).”
The song talks about the tremendous perseverance of the Kashmiri woman.
Her courage and resilience are as constant and ever flowing as the river Jhelum itself, the songwriter notes.
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