The genocide of Kashmiri Hindus is an reality that lurks behind our celebrations, marriages, births and deaths.
It creeps upon us when we're drinking tea in the afternoon, and it plays upon our minds as we plan our days 1/n
And while it might be the past for the perpetrators of independent India's largest communal atrocity, it remains as it did in 1989, to haunt us.
An elderly relative of mine suffers from adult dementia. He cannot recall small details of his life, like where we are 2/n
(He thinks we're in Jammu, and keeps referring to Talab Tiloo as if it's right next door).
He cannot recall who I am, sometimes. It's not appropriate to make this about myself, but it distresses me because, like I've mentioned, my grandmother had Alzhiemer's. 3/n
And being around someone who is also losing their memory is a painful redux.
The irony of someone losing their memory inducing the memory of someone else is something I'll leave for more deep diving minds to delve into.
But then, I do have to add something 4/n
This relative of mine, the one that I'm around these days, he casually asked me where in Kashmir I'm from.
It's a question he's asked before, many, many times. I smile when he asks, because I am reminded (not painfully) of my grandmother when he does. 5/n
Srinagar, I reply, knowing well his next question.
Where in Srinagar, he asks and I smile even more broadly, despite myself.
Habba Kadal, that's where my family is from, where they've been for the past 200 years or so. Where our small family temple lies locked, barricaded 6/n
Its small Shiva linga and its Shaligrama now coated with dust. But, I digress.
"Habba Kadal?!", he asked me today, "that used to be a Batta Mohalla", a residence purely of Kashmiri Hindus.

This is new, he's never remarked this before, when we've had this conversation earlier 7/n
He continues even as i fight not to betray my surprise with my face.
"Ohh", he continues almost nonchalantly, "now there must be no Kashmiri Hindus there, no?"
"They made us leave", he adds. 8/n
I nod gingerly, careful not to say anything else.
"Ohh, when we used to visit Habba Kadal from Ganpathyar temple, it was so much fun". The excitement in his voice is palpable even underneath his dulcet tones and toothy voice. 9/n
He moves onto other topics, but my mind is lost looking at some scene of Habba Kadal from decades, perhaps half a century ago.

What the gods of memory choose to leave us with, and what they choose to take away, is capricious in a manner one cannot bear to think. 10/n
All this, over an evening cup of what we Kashmiris call "Lipton Chai".
11/11

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