Indexed Amnesia

Arshid Malik

By: Arshad Malik

I still remember the day I watched the Hollywood blockbuster movie Titanic. It was an enthralling experience. This movie kicked off a thought process in my head pertaining to memories and remembrance and the value we attach to them. The movie so very intimately wove together the passion that humans hold for their past, all that has gone by, in this case a marvel ship of its time “The Titanic”.

Cinematography and multimedia aside, the movie is a cellophanic ode to human endeavors, efforts and perseverance. But then the West as such is so very wonderful at capturing and preserving the tastes of the past, be they sweet or sour. As it happens to be even wars fought in the recent past stand entombed in the shape of war memorials, historical accounts, works of fiction and poetry and what not. My understanding however is that humans rely on the remembrance of their past for sustenance into the future.

Coming back to Kashmir, my homeland, the contours of human civilization change a little bit. We, seemingly, are better off forgetting what has taken place rather than remembering it.

In Kashmir people always attempt to appear to be busy doing what they do, somehow managing not to live in the shadow(s) of the past. We love to live by rules that are not rooted in the past. We enjoy the commotion of today and listlessly leave our yesterdays behind. Does that mean we are very progressive people and do not care for what has gone by? Well, not at all. Not that we are not progressive but that we unknowingly disregard the past for the present and the future. So many instances that have taken place in time knock about in my skull – instances that have left deep imprints in the nearly unaccounted history of Kashmir – instances that shook the very core of us; instances that rattled our existence.

The most recent one that I cannot turn a deaf ear to is that of when scores of mass graves were unearthed in the Valley. We, as a people, froze in our paths on reading through news stories and accounts about the mass graves. And then we walked past. Did we not forget what we had seen or heard that was so very detrimental to our today, then? If we did not then where are the memories, where is the talk; tell me for humanities sake, where are the interrogation marks. The nearly unaccounted history of Kashmir is replete with such instances and more, but all we can afford to do is forget. Again, if we have not forgotten then why do not we care for our brethren? Why do not we care for our neighbours? Why are we so jealous of the prosperity of our own brothers and sisters? Why do we let the horrendous tentacles of corruption bite so deep into our existence? Why can’t we be honest? Why can’t we be empathic? Why can’t we be human?

We may not even have attempted to imagine creating something as big and marvelous as the Titanic, but we have had our moments, of triumph and breakdown. But we fail to remember. We are infested by a disease that I call Indexed Amnesia. Indexed Amnesia I call it, for our collective memories only stand indexed in our unaccounted history.

PS: I fail to remember how I had conceived to conclude this column, thus a brief and indecisive conclusion! I am a Kashmiri.

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