I came to Srinagar, Kashmir, for the wedding of my friend’s daughter.
After the wedding, along with a couple who had come from Malaysia, we decided to visit Pahalgam.
We started our journey from the Dal lake. It was a bright warm summer’s day. The reflection of the snow capped Himalayas in the lotus filled waters of the lake, was cut apart by the passing of a high speed Indian military boat. The lake trembled for a while and then the mountains once again shone on the water.
The city was tense. Nervous soldiers, walked within eyesight of each other, suspiciously throwing glances at weary people.
We had travelled but a short distance, just past the first military bunker, when a tall dark skinned soldier, with blood shot eyes ordered us to stop.
‘CRPF,’ our driver warned. ‘Don’t say you are from Pakistan. Just say Nagin.’
I was sitting in the front passenger seat. The Malaysian couple were in the back.
Pointing his gun at me the soldier asked in Hindi, ‘Where are you coming from?’
‘Nagin,’ I replied.
‘Where are you going?’
He turned to my friends in the back and asked, ‘Where are you from?’
‘They don’t speak Hindi, sir, ask them in English,’ I said,
The soldier shook his head and said withdrawing his gun, ‘If I could speak this mother fucking language, do you think I would do this job?’
Tariq is a faculty at the Department of English, American University of Beirut. Website: https://www.aub.edu.lb/fas/english/Pages/Mehmood.aspx
Check out his new novel at:
In a town seething with Islamophobia: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/sep/22/muslim-teenage-identity-tariq-mehmood