Trauma of Being a Child of Conflict
When have we seen peaceful mornings or driven along the Boulevard full of mirth and ease? I don’t recall an evening when my parents happily talked about being blessed to have children born in Kashmir. The cycle of loss and trauma had started even before our parents were born but it intensified in the early 90s. The rest of the world may call this age ‘the 90s era’ but for us, the children of Kashmir, it symbolizes bloodshed and mayhem so much so that babies born after 1990 are termed ‘conflict children’. Does this label define us? How are we different from others born during the same period? That is what I am going to explain.
Early childhood memories, almost all psychologists and paediatricians would strongly agree, form a crucial aspect of a person’s mental state. Anything and everything experienced during our formative years helps us develop as an individual, and mouldsus into either a sensible or an unreasonable adult. We have vivid memories of riding a bike for the first time, losing our milk teeth, and even getting vaccines, although the age at which all or some of these events were experienced would have been tender. Most people retain important memories while some retain all. It depends on the cognitive ability of a child.
Now what do, we, the children of conflict retain? Being just toddlers when the wave of terror came crashing, the children of conflict have been traumatised beyond comprehension. Witnessing bomb blasts, gunshots, blood, chaos, loss, anxiety, throughoutour constructive years, fear has been ingrained in us. This fear may exhibit itself in the form of adulthood depression, trust issues, xenophobia, and in extreme cases addiction to narcotics.
People outside don’t usually understand why Kashmiris, essentially Kashmiris of the modern generation, the generation teeming with now-adult children of conflict, want peace or a hint of normalcy. It’s not just to live an economically stable life or to settle down. The basic reason why normalcy is aspired in Kashmir is to outlive and overcome traumas of our fear-afflicted childhood. It is to shake off that negative energy looming over us every time we step out to buy groceries. To enjoy quiet evenings without police alarms blaring us out of peaceful oblivion. To let our parents rest at ease when we go out with friends. And to let our children growup in a world where coffins are not sold hotter than cradles.
The story of that little 3 year old innocent boy crying beside his dead grandfather, both bathed in blood, should not go unnoticed. If people outside Kashmir pay no heed to this news, probably busy thoughtlessly swigging down the dazed Indo-China cockfight, I will raise my voice to let his story be known. Let the children of conflict raise their voices too. Because, eventually when the trauma catches up to you, and it will, let us be ready to face it together. Remember this day and how we let the world know about thisunwelcome affliction spilling our innocent blood. Remember we are in this together and will forever remain.