You must tell your story … You must write ….
For years I have been asked to pen “my story” of exodus and exile, of homelessness and refuge. I’ve been told to lay threadbare what happened all those years ago and how I feel about it all these years later.
My story is not the narration of how we left Kashmir; it is about being unable to return home. My story is not about death that stared us in our faces; it is about that one chance we got to live.
In my story, a gun-wielding monster was not at my doorstep; it was the fear of him appearing that scared me more. I did not watch my house burn; I saw what was left of it in the pages of a magazine. My story is not about the loss of material goods; it is about the pain of carrying memories.
It was in the evening of March 19, 1990 when an excruciating 12-hour journey ended and we set foot in Jammu. It was exactly two months to the day after the first batch of Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley. The drive from Srinagar to Jammu is dotted with hairpin curves that blurred all the pretty sights that nature has to offer. Exhausted by motion sickness, I was not happy to be greeted with a water balloon. We had arrived a day before Holi, unprepared for the festival of colours.