Adeela Hameed

Kashmir Amidst the Pandemic: A Perspective

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Societies make up this world. We cannot ever live alone. So, the more fortunate should take it upon themselves to create a secure bubble where all can live peacefully. For they have been given a gift, a gift to create peace and comfort. They have to be the torch bearers of a world where nobody is discriminated based on their natural state. A world where everyone can live in harmony, without any fear of being different. Where every colour shines, every talent is appreciated, each community thrives; a priceless reality that we should strive to achieve in and around us.

At present, all over the world and now in Kashmir valley too, despondency is inescapable. A ferocious pandemic has stolen our aim and maimed our effort. We are left alone to despair, permitting this state of affairs to affect our sanity. Some feel they are losing their way. But the virus is not our only problem. Complete lockdown has put excessive pressure on our economy, with recession and increased unemployment in tow. Life, as we know it, has been thrown out of balance. Many earn on a daily-wage basis in the Valley. And not just them, but the middle class workers are hit as well. Daily activities of vendors, businesspersons, media persons, transporters, and the lot have been curbed. Everyone is losing everything.

People are confined inside their houses with nothing but news to look out for. This has brought home anxiety in many otherwise healthy individuals. Economic instability is about to bring about a pandemic corona never will. Recent reports in the Valley have suggested increased suicides among high-profile individuals, and middle-income families, and starvation in low-income households. This stems from the fact that people lost human contact, and their livelihood. It also proved, yet again, that social media cannot help humans feel close to each other. We, as social animals, crave for connections. When virtual reality becomes your only reality, the human mind collapses.

Till now, there has been no effective vaccine developed against the coronavirus. That just means we have to live with it for quite sometime. But isn’t it difficult or scary? It sure is. However if we continue to stay put, locked inside our homes, the human race might lose focus or sanity. So with proper precautions and using masks and sanitizers, venturing out is, in reality, ‘lesser of the two evils’. With the world heading towards a massive economic crunch, people have to work somehow to regain balance. Poverty might rise even further if total lockdown continues. Kashmiris are unemployed for now, a huge number of people lost their jobs and businesses, but what’s more appalling is that mental instability and self-harm are on the rise. Without a strong support system, people fail to overcome their obstacles and eventually succumb to illnesses.

However it’s not just the pandemic Kashmiris have to fight!

Kashmir has, off and on, been under curfews and hartals, and many at times the national highways are closed for transport. So, in addition to fighting the virus, we have to face restrictions in continuing a normal life. 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 grow up in a world where coffins are not sold hotter than cradles.

Kashmir has fought tyrannous hurricanes of policy and is not defeated easily. So, with proper measures, this pandemic will be defeated as well. Being strong in body and mind, acting resolutely, and adapting to survive is what makes us bold. We need peace and health in this world, this place we enjoy our springs and autumns in. To protect this imperfect yet one of a kind world, the agenda should be safeguarding our people, all of our people, because it is they who make everything worthwhile.

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