They named you Kashmir… a land desiccated from water. They hid in your name your fate… you were and still are a ‘shimir’… the desiccated. The demarcation that gave the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan their identities in actuality deprived you of yours. Your past is well-versed. Your present is in the news and substantially annotated. What needs to be decided is your destiny.

My first memory of this name is back from the 90s when I was a toddler. I remember watching a documentary every night after the news bulletin at nine. From the corners of my eyes I used to register your name and, what had become after years of persecution, its synonyms. ‘Murder’, ‘violence’ and ‘rape’ were phenomena unknown to me back then, but now imagining a five-year-old girl undergoing these traumas makes these words even more sinewy and this life much more languid.

I do not remember missing out a single Independence Day. For me, 14th of August has always referred to a nation-wide holiday when we get to put on display jhandian (mini flags on a string), listen to patriotic anthems, and either watch or be among the youngsters who demonstrate their talents of one-wheeling and being-a-hooligan.

The axis of my perspective rotated a little when I first saw banners in Muzaffarabad that bore the weight of the words: “Hum le kar rahenge ge azaadi” (We will take independence). This one-liner made me realise the real worth of independence… something which must be celebrated. However, your decades of losses and sacrifices have changed my thinking’s entire course. It has made me realise your longing for it… something which must be snatched and won. Your aspiration has defined nationalism in its true meaning, which is not a medal earned by one and taken pride in by another, but unceasing resolve, perseverance and courage to do or die.

We indubitably pen down your history from Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947 to Simla Agreement of 1972, but we cannot aptly and fully narrate the tales of your sufferings that befell you on account of us becoming your nemesis. Your soil’s arability is renowned for running your ruler’s economy but only you know what your earth has been used to conceal.

For most of us, your accession is a matter of prestige, and keeps relevance in terms of controlling the headwaters of four major rivers and adding up your large area into ours. This is what it means to us. For you, it is about your yearning for inhaling invigorated air and walking with frim steps, without any fear of being humiliated and agonised.

For most of us, Burhan Muzaffar Wani’s assassination kindled a debate of whether or not to watch Indian movies and plays. According to one faction we must adopt Gandhi’s idea of satyagraha if we are to put forth our stance on the Kashmir conflict, while for the other watching and appreciating Sultan is nowhere related to standing up for our fellow Kashmiris. For you, withal, your struggle is to save several Abdullahs and Sakinas from being mortified, murdered, assaulted and buried in the chest of Kashmir valley.

Not only have the people of this erstwhile princely state experienced ignorance and silence, but the crimson sky also is angered on witnessing the bias and prejudice that this world’s inhabitants show towards you, establishing the fact that some humans are more equal than others. Our long-entombed sensitivities did not exhume on counting 94,290 corpses and reporting 10,167 abused since 1989. We simply could not assess the terror that comes upon you on hearing a knock on the door, each strike being a bash to your lives, after which a mother gets raped while saving her daughter from being assaulted and her son is sodomised and brutally shot in head upon shielding his family from the attack. Our hearts did not melt even after seeing pellet-wounded faces of martyrs’ cadavers. Some have been shot in the eyes, some beaten to death, some dishonoured on streets, and some inflicted with the torment of bearing a soldier’s child. Nothing could bring tears in our eyes. Nothing at all!

Another 14th of August is just round the corner. You will see the people of this country, whose flag’s swaying costs you your lives, celebrating yet another day of sovereignty with full zeal and zest. Had we actually considered you our jugular vein – the supplier and the one without whom there is no existence of life – we would not have observed any single Independence Day up till your freedom and liberation.

We are not hostile towards your state of excruciation. You do have our sympathies. But dear Kashmir, we can give you nothing more than condolence.