The thud of shush—death of creativity in Kashmir

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As Sumaira and Sikander were speaking of their finished but unbegun stories, it felt more like the ghost of their lost part expressing a long due. 

Throughout the year I would just exist but would live only once, for 70 days to be more precise. The time of my vacations would be filled with vivid senses of my being that would visit me to sojourn—aromatic simulations of paint, the mirror of canvas reflecting my inner worlds, and the magic wand of my brushes making strokes out of thin air into a reality. 

The stretch between this period and the rest of the year would pass with me conceiving all the ideas that could take some form in my vacations. Lost in the strokes of paint on the plane of canvas, my teachers always called me out for inattentiveness. I just exist now and for the least, I do not live, not even 70 days that I used to. The more I was growing, the more I was going away from my creativity and that continues.

As Sumaira revisits her childhood years, for a brief moment she enters a stock-still as if delivered back to those times and trying to relive the lived moments. Pursuing Masters’ in Mathematics at Women’s Degree College, Sumaira is just another ambitious but passionless figure in the myriad. 

While I was in school, I always waited for summer and winter breaks so that I could spend more time painting and bringing my imagination to life. During working days, I would not be able to spare so much time because of home assignments and post-school tuitions, yet weekends would be somewhat eased up.

Painting her childhood years on the canvas of adulthood with the brush of her creative remnants, Sumaira did not appear regretful but also did not appear complete. It felt like she had raked a part of her whole.

My parents felt happy that I would paint in my pastime, and never stopped me. They stood very particular about my pastime not getting in the way of my productive time, and hence as I was stepping to higher classes my pastime was going lower and lower. This notion started growing on me and I devoted all my time and focus to academia. Studying religiously I aimed at becoming a doctor but my plans were not in line with that of destiny. I did not get through after attempting twice and having a good aptitude for mathematics as well, I sought to take that up. Engrossed in my ambitions, I lost my passion somewhere. As I was told that affluence and stature in society is earned only when you go all-out in studies during your formative years and that makes up for a laid-back life later on, I reckoned to toe the line. Going by the book is what life is, I feel. I want to agree with how my parents went about laying the roadmap for me. After completing my studies with a Ph.D., and securing my life financially, I shall reinstate my boon of creativity.

Sumaira speaking with a tenacious voice with tinkling overtones of discontent was the untenable characteristic of the conversation, or of Sumaira, so to say. Her persona did not feel much like her own. As ambitious as she appeared for having financial stability and a secured life, she was still basking in the silhouette of her paint, brush, and canvas. Her thoughts sounded conformingly affirmative and she was slipping away in the shroud of her creativity.  

While Sumaira is holding onto the ropes of ambition hoping that someday will be a marriage of her passion and ambition, Sikander, rested on the pyre of his passion, is fading in the fumes. A bank clerk by profession, Sikander lives off that. Always humming unsung, unfound, and unheard symphonies is the characteristic feature of Sikander. 

When I first listened to music, more than anything, I was listening to the interplay of instruments. To my wonder, I found myself listening to more and more music of all sorts just to tell each instrument apart at each time. As I was growing I was trying to make different symphonies, it was the time and space I felt myself the most. Every sound around me would translate into a beat in my head. My head is filled with symphonies like the sky is filled with stars, and so you find me captive all the time. How can you expect not to? 

The bony brown face of Sikander shrivelling under his baggy eyes is symbolic of his ravages at all levels. Mostly working all through the week, he keeps busy, however on weekends drowns in sleep, partly due to fatigue and partly due to cannabis. 

I have lost the trails of all my symphonies. At times my best friend reminds me of my lost parts but I do not know what it takes to put them back together. I was never sure of how calibrated I was, did not want to be perceived as a transgressor and ungodly. Do not mistake my mid-length stubble for anything [laughs]. 

Creativity is like a plastic flower that looks very attractive and ravishing to the eye, could also soothe the eye but in reality is nugatory. It is not aromatic and cannot even attract bees. Similarly, if your creativity does not bring you money, fame, and societal stature, it must be nugatory regardless of being pleasant and fulfilling. People around would often speak so, and it got etched on my mind. Not many people around me are aware of my symphonic blessings because I did not choose to divulge and digressed instead.

Sikander was not waiting for anything, not for any right time, and in all acceptance had submitted his life to the fetters of the world, to the questionable and unwarranted societal framework. Wearing a grim smile, he made it unintelligible to tell if he was happy or sad. 

Sumaira and Sikander were like twins but non-identical. While we live in a world crazy for aesthetics, little do we think of all the buried aesthetics that lie within us and within many around us. 

As Sumaira and Sikander were speaking of their finished but unbegun stories, it felt more like the ghost of their lost part expressing a long due. 

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