Election (Kashmir style)

  • Akhtar Mohiuddin
  • Publish Date: Dec 24 2016 6:40PM
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  • Updated Date: Dec 24 2016 10:41PM
Election (Kashmir style)File Photo

Akhtar Mohiuddin is one of the significant writers of the Kashmiri language. His prolific contribution to this language helped it expand exponentially. Akhtar bagan his literary career with Urdu language but soon switched to the Kashmiri, his mother tongue, and made an unprecedented contribution to it. His short stories have especially proved to be of defining value, turning out to be masterpieces comparable to the classics in the world literature. He also wrote novels of which there are not many in Kashmiri language. His prolific output has proved to be of abiding value and relevance because of his deep sense of its history and his deft acumen at understanding the Kashmiri consciousness. 

"Election" is one of his short story with strong political undertones. The story is a satirical comment on the farcical elections usually held in Kashmir where the result is fixed earlier by the powers that be to further their interests. The story is also a mocking comment on the crisis of credibility all democratic institutions suffer in Kashmir.

Election (Kashmir style)

It was already decided above who would win and who would lose but to orchestrate the drama was mandatory.

That is why on the voting day, a procession of the green-flag holders came out from our locality. They included a dozen of young kids, half a dozen teens and a few adults, one of whom sported a grey beard. When the processionists got near our house, they hurled stones at the Kachers, the neighbours facing us. The Kachers closed the doors and windows of their house and did not even let out a sigh.

Next day, the election result declared the red-flag holders winners. Firecrackers were burnt the whole night and, by morning, Haji Saheb had erected three red flags on his house, all well-decorated in a pleasing manner. 

In the evening, the red-flag holders too brought out a procession which was welcomed by Haji Saheb near our house. The processionists were the same kids, a dozen of teens and a few adults, one of them with a grey beard.  

Gesturing to his left, he said, “And these Dars…. They may be rich … but just yesterday they were misguiding the kids, making them throw stone at the Kachers.” Listening to this the enraged processionists bayed and threw stones at the Dars the way they had thrown stones at the Kachers earlier. All their window-panes were broken into pieces. 

After that Haji Saheb sent candy to the Kachers and the following day the Kachers also sent candy to Haji Saheb’s house. 

Haji Saheb no more hauled the seized timber to the official depot but to his own courtyard. He would not distribute it among the people against their ration cards but sell it for a hefty sum after sawing it. 

The Katchers would send word around for purchase of cement, iron and such like from them in case anyone needed these. They were construction contractors of official projects. 

The Dars would complain to all - “They have lost all sense of propriety…. It was pre-decided to throw stones at each other but they are eating into our business now.”

They would sell stuff like shawls, etc, but it is said that they would also carry a handful of opium under cover. 

God knows better! 

(Translated from the Kashmiri by Dr Abid Ahmad, Editor Sheeraza, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages)