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Silence of Sahibo & the Evocative Whispers of the Valley

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Powerful voices painting a vivid picture of Kashmir

By: Mohd Younus Bhat 

At the core of Kashmiri ethos is the term “Sahibo,” a respectful address that surpasses mere courtesy to embody a deep-seated reverence and affection. This linguistic distinction sets the stage for a relationship between host and guest that is deeply rooted in Kashmiri culture, one that is both an ode to the guest and a lament for the complexities it harbours. In a strange blend of musical talent and lyrical depth, the song “Sahibo” emerges not merely as a musical piece but as a heartfelt ode to the enduring nature of love and the hypnotic attraction of Kashmir. Creatively crafted by Clinton Cerejo and directed by Amit Sharma, this piece is produced by Chrome Pictures and is graced with the sweet vocals of Mudasir Ali and Vibha Saraf. The lyrics, penned by Dr Shah Faisal, dig into the complex connection of love, longing, and the deep cynicism that shadows unrequited or lost love.

Set against the captivating beauty of Kashmir, “Sahibo” represents a collaborative triumph, showcasing the combined talents of Cerejo, Sharma, Chrome Pictures, Ali, Saraf, and Faisal. The song sets an emotional narrative journey, blending traditional Kashmiri musical elements with modern soundscapes. Faisal’s lyrics resonate with the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir and a universal search for connection, offering listeners an immersive exploration into the heart of Kashmir.

The last two stanzas of the Kashmiri song resonate profoundly, touching the core of one’s being with their depth and emotional richness. They speak directly to the soul, leaving a lasting impact on anyone who comprehends them.

“Yemi chain shahrek,

Lukh chi

Vopran chashma wathrawan.

Heraan kernas chani jaaye

Zaayi karnus ba.”

On my journey, I shared with my host how I was drawn to their city, known for its incredibly warm and curious people. I had heard stories of its welcoming streets, where everyone treats you like a long-lost friend, making you feel part of their big family right away.

But when I arrived, I was struck by something powerful. Kashmir was not just beautiful; it was its people’s kindness that amazed me. They have a way of making you feel at home yet totally in awe of the place around you. This warmth and beauty come from Kashmir’s deep-rooted culture and stunning beauty. It is a place where you are not just a visitor; you become part of something bigger, leaving you with a sense of belonging and wonder that leaves indelible memories.

“Zuna gaashi manz,

Yusuf banith chi draakh Dal saaelus.

Laaraan pata ches

chani tsaaye

Zaayi kerthas ba.”

That translates to “bathed in the ethereal glow of moonlight, upon the serene waters of Dal Lake, there lies a moment suspended in time.” It is there, amidst the gentle lapping of the water against the oars, that I find myself in pursuit of a shadow that dances just beyond my grasp. This shadow, elusive and mesmeric whispers of a tale as old as time, reminiscent of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) himself, whose beauty, and trials echo through the ages.

In this nocturnal ballet, where light and darkness entwine, my soul ventures forth, rowing against the current of unspoken yearnings. Each stroke through the silvered waters is a reach towards that fleeting silhouette, a silhouette that captivates and eludes in equal measure. The chase, though fraught with the beauty of hope, is also tinged with the melancholy of realization—the understanding that some quests, no matter how fervently pursued, may never culminate in capture.

The lake, under the watchful gaze of the moon, becomes a mirror, reflecting not just the physical realm but the depths of my longing. To chase your shadow is to engage in a dance with the intangible, a dance that, despite its inherent beauty, leaves me enervated. This endeavour, as enchanting as it is futile, has expended my spirit, leaving me adrift in the wake of my desires.

Thus, in the moonlit embrace of Dal Lake, I am both seeker and mourner, chasing echoes of what could be, yet facing the spectre of what remains just out of reach. This pursuit, under the celestial canopy, has not merely occupied my time—it has consumed me, body, and soul, rendering me a mere wraith of my former self, forever chasing shadows in the silvered night.

 

Hospitality: A Cloaked Dagger?

The initial encounter with Kashmiri hospitality often aligns with the expectations of warmth and acceptance, a narrative widely anticipated by visitors. The eyes of the city’s inhabitants, metaphorically spread wide for strangers, seem to promise an unparalleled welcome. Yet, as the veil of initial perceptions is lifted, a different reality often emerges, one that contradicts the expected narrative of unconditional hospitality.

This contradiction is vividly captured in the lament, “But your city has surprised me. (It) has wasted me.” Herein lies the crux of the Kashmiri paradox – a hospitality that both embraces and alienates, welcoming with one hand while pushing away with the other. This dichotomy is not born of malice but is a manifestation of the region’s tumultuous history and complex socio-political fabric, which have shaped cautious hospitality and at times, weariness.

 

Love and Care: The Unattainable Yusuf

The imagery of moonshine on Dal Lake, with a solitary figure rowing in pursuit of a shadow, encapsulates the elusive nature of Kashmiri love and care. It evokes the story of Yusuf, a symbol of beauty and virtue that remains just out of reach. This pursuit is emblematic of the yearning for a connection that is both sought after and feared, for to love in Kashmir is to surf a web of lost hopes and unfulfilled promises.

The beauty of Dal Lake under the moonlight serves as a poignant backdrop to this narrative, highlighting the juxtaposition between Kashmir’s natural splendour and the internal strife faced by its people. The invocation of Yusuf adds a layer of allegory, enriching the narrative with themes of longing, beauty, and betrayal – a testament to the complex human emotions that pervade the Kashmiri experience.

 

Conclusion: The Complexity of Connection

The essence of Kashmiri hospitality, love, and care reflects the region’s close connection with its roots. It is a hospitality that is both welcoming and guarded, a love that is deeply felt yet often unexpressed, and care that is abundant yet restrained. This paradoxical nature challenges the conventional understanding of these concepts, inviting a deeper exploration into the soul of Kashmir.

The narrative of Kashmiri hospitality is not one of simplicity but of profound complexity, where every smile, every gesture, and every word carries layers of meaning. It is a land where the beauty of the landscape mirrors the depth of its people’s emotions, offering a unique perspective on the human condition.

To truly understand the puzzling embrace of Kashmiri hospitality is to recognize the resilience of its people, who steer the tumultuous waters of their reality with grace and dignity. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, capable of harbouring immense love and warmth even in the face of adversity. In the end, the paradox of Kashmiri hospitality is not just hard to believe; it is a deep reflection of the complexities of human connection, deserving of both admiration and introspection.

The writer is Senior Research Scholar,CSIR-NET, DST-INSPIRE Fellow & Gold Medalist. Pondicherry University (A Central University). Author of ‘Spark of Joy- Soaring Towards the Radiant Tomorrows’.

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