A lot need be done to restore it the beauty…
In late eighties a friend of mine gifted me a book titled ‘The City of Joy’ written by Dominique Lapierre. Treating it as another work of fiction, I did not even turn the pages of this book for months as I am not used to fiction.
But in due course of time title of the book invoked a sense of curiosity within me and I made up my mind to try it. The book unravel the sad and cruel vistas of a smaller city Slum habitation) within a much bigger city and gives you an idea how people even after facing lot of miseries feel contented and live life to its full. They feel satisfied not out of conviction but having no other choice so ‘compulsion’ is the only option. The book left a lasting mark on my psyche.
Now, after more than two decades I find repetition of the same distressing plot, full of pain, misery, offensiveness and uncertainty repeating in my city— the city of Srinagar— the city some would call ‘city of prosperity’ and others in the annals of history mentioned of it as ‘City of Sun’. During last two decades Srinagar has turned into city of bleakness and the September 2014 floods changed the course of this historic city. It architecture, economic structure, cultural and social milieu has been devastated. But its people as brave hearts of Dominique Lapierre’s ‘City of Joy’ express no sign or sense of defeat while pulling their life out of despairing confusion. A year has passed and the scars of aftermath of floods are not only visible but have left a deep and everlasting watermark on the mind and soul of people of this city.
All the characters of ‘City of Joy’ are not only lively in my city but most of them have over worked, over acted and over lived. Like slums of Dominique Lapierre’s ‘City of Joy’ Srinagar city hosts both saints as well as the demons. Here corrupt are thriving brazenly, but to balance their unkind fleecing we have the virtuous that invigorate our faith and belief in optimism and hope. In this city animals are more precious than the human life, but the here you find the most hospitable people out to help anyone irrespective of cast, colour or creed. This uniqueness of coexisting shine and shade classifies this city the perfect replica of ‘City of Joy’
Once the most beautiful city with almost all elements of splendor and erudition, the city is now fast turning into an ugly slum full of arrogance and materialism. The worst lot who brought destruction and inflicted scars of hatred, corruption and cultural vandalism to this city are its politicians. Its polity, irrespective of their leaning and affiliation preferred power over values and their social, political and cultural obligations. The proverbial political rats who abandoned this city at the time of September deluge are now crying hoarse; at top of their voice they are asking for justice. A justice they buried under the layers and layers of political arrogance and administrative inefficiency. Even after their heroic (sarcastic) escape to greener heights people of Srinagar true to the characters of ‘City of Joy’ helped each other and bravely came out of the deluge.
Now after more than a year we are at the same crossroad of despair and gloom where we were abandoned by the political master. Our scars are fresh as if inflicted the very other day. Inhabitants of this bruised city fighting aftermath of two decades of turmoil and the 2014 floods have shown a much higher level of resilience and fighting against all odds are trying to come out of political, environmental and economic deluge. Like earlier political dispensation the present politics, where every stake holder wants to ‘have his cake and eat it too’ has not changed the course of agony and distress faced by the people of Kashmir and Srinagar city in particular.
Alas! Political considerations have become darer to our political class than their political responsibilities. Every politician has failed people of Srinagar. And now people of Srinagar has to rise, rise of their own as they have been striving during the last one year and prove that they are lively people and can withstand any fury or deluge either gifted by the Almighty or inflicted by their political masters. People of Srinagar have to live up to their own expectations and prove they are the real ‘City of Joy’.