Disclaimer: No Girls were harmed in the writing of this story as none was deemed important to be a character.
His Story as History: A Metafictional attempt at writing a Story concerning Kashmir
First line should always be gripping – that’s the rule as they say.
Now that we are somehow out of its grip so without wasting precious time, let’s start our story. Frankly, let me read it to you. Please. I insist. Although I am not at all good at reading something to someone but let me at least try. Thanks. Thanks.
Well, the basic idea is to write a metafictional story with Kashmir at its center or in the suburbs. Nothing else. A story about a…… (Well no suspense there) obviously about a boy and not a girl or a woman who is trying hard to write answer to a question about Kashmiri history. Nothing else. Hah! Not that the story will help in bringing vigor to the renaissance that has already crept into our literature but only for the fact that nowadays when you could publish almost anything in the numberless newspapers and magazines how would it hurt me and my conscience to write something that has not been tried yet in our literature (at least let me think that way so that I could happily write it). There is thus clearly a bit of selfish interest in writing this. But then again these days who writes for the sake of writing only. To which you could say quote well Journalists do unquote. But that’s a different problem altogether particularly keeping in view the present Kashmiri literature. Now, don’t make an issue out of it. Otherwise, next time you would read a banner saying Journalism and Literature: An International Seminar on Kashmiri Literature (High Tea and Wazwan available) waving with pride somewhere within the university premises. Let’s leave it there for now.
Mubashir Karim, shivering with cold, Roll no. 2014 is in the middle of writing his history paper. The question he is trying hard to answer is why Zain-ul-Abidin was one of the finest rulers of Kashmir. However, in the middle of the answer he has completely forgotten why.
O! Sorry first the setting.
Setting is important than character in contemporary Kashmiri literature. Somehow, the geopolitical problems of our region have seeped too down the throat of our memories to keep our literature ‘space free’. Well, the character is sitting on the last bench of this huge room where a poorly lit bukhari in one paltry corner is trying hard with its unusual tricks to show the boys around her that she is nothing but hot. The building is called the New Block. Its newness can be calculated from the fact that it was inaugurated by the present fictional CM’s fictional grandfather. That’s probably why the present fictional CM never took interest in inaugurating anything new in our college. It would have been a matter of huge linguistic problem for the authorities. I am deliberately writing fictional CM and fictional grandfather so that no body confuses it with the actual CM and his actual grandfather. I don’t want to put myself in any trouble over this petty piece. Not that in Kashmir, literature is taken too seriously that it will pose problems for real people out there in the valley, but still a precaution. Now, coming back to the story. The problem was precisely this: What would a building inaugurated in the 2000s be called if the building inaugurated in the 1970s is called a New Block. So that’s that.
Now our character has forgotten ‘the answer to the history’ he had rote memorized yesterday from a cheap guide he had bought from Lal Chowk bookseller. To add to the narrative, this was the exact effect of the magic pill he had taken before the exams – the one he got from Amira Kadal Bridge while it was still raining. Although, it was not his fault. So what, he was gullible? Actually somebody had advised him that In order to write an immaculate history of a region it is always better to forget what has already been written about it, quote unquote. This sentence had somehow stuck in his head like the barrel of a gun had stuck his best friend’s head a few months earlier when there was a military crackdown in his area. I knew this would happen as I told you earlier. Somehow, the geopolitical problems of our region have seeped too down the throat of our memories to keep our literature space free or to add conflict free. Because for us Kashmiris, at least for me, a space like Paradise would be Paradise only if that place won’t have a history of being a princely state earlier. Pun intended. It was precisely because of that sentence and because Mubashir was a hard working student he had bought a magic pill from an unemployed PhD scholar who used to sell things like these on the Amira Kadal Bridge as a sole source of his income. He used to wrap these magic pills intentionally in newspapers. Old or new, that was never the problem. Because, here in Kashmir old or new newspapers don’t make much difference as both basically narrate stories of loss and grief and torture and Shia-Sunni brawls and disappearances and what not. Back to the story, the newspaper around which Mubashir’s magic pill was wrapped dated back to the ancient times - precisely 19 September 1428 the headlines of which said I quote “Bud Shah reinforces major administrative changes” unquote. However it was later found that the reference of this headline was taken from Mohibbul Hassan’s book Kashmir under the Sultans. Mubashir had thought that in order to write good history or good answers to his history question paper he should first forget what he had rote memorized. The effect, I told you, of the sentence. But the only pre requisite of the magical pill was that it affected the brain only when one had completely learnt the history by heart in the first place. Now that Mubashir did not know how to answer history back what he did for the most time of the first half was to look around. And all he could see was his fellow classmates meticulously turning history into answer sheets. And to add to Mubashir’s misery they were asking for more answer sheets as if they were Zain-ul-Abidin themselves. Hey, write your own paper, quote unquote yelled one of the examiners who was stuck to the poorly lit bukhari as if he was the winter himself.
At this critical point, not knowing what to do, the Mubashir, from the story Roll no. 2014 sees me, the Mubashir trying hard to write this metafictional story. Seeing me writing something, he requests me, to write the answer to the question asked or else to wipe out the whole question in the first place as if I was the one who put it in the question paper. Otherwise, he would fail in the exams. Sharing mutual sympathies with my second self from the story and not to let him fail in the exams for I was once a hard working history student too ready to do anything to write it well. I stop writing the whole piece. The exam concludes. The question is, as requested, wiped out. The Magic pill has worked. (Moreover, frankly speaking to add more words to the story, I too did not know the answer to the question asked in the question paper. I did not tell him that but instead posed as if everything was under control. That’s why I stopped writing the whole piece).
Well, thanks for listening to the story.
If you found it boring, difficult to understand etc. don’t be bothered. There are many other stories to be read out there. However, if you found it interesting. Thanks. Thanks. To find it interesting! Well, that’s an overstatement for a piece like this. But, if you found it interesting, don’t hesitate or overthink. I will then definitely be praised by the “Highbrow club of the pseudo-intellectuals’ founded recently in our valley. So that problem is solved.
For further information however feel free to
Call or email
Now, whenever a person googles metafiction and Kashmir, this story will definitely pop up. I am so happy! Selfishness always pays. These days, most of the times it pays in writing.
Oh! My mistake, the idea of giving a name to the examiner came late to me. That’s why in the end.
Mubashir, from the story obviously, later found that the examiner who had yelled at him was none other than Haji Khan - Zain-ul-Abidin’s son. Yes, one of the sons who had rebelled against his father.
Discalimer 2: Because I didn’t know any of them. All the historical details have been deliberately taken from Wikipedia. Ya, Whatever!