There was one Siddhartha who saw the human sufferings and unable to bear it left his palace willingly, in order to find the meaning of life and as a result became the ‘Enlightened one’. The Buddha. The most wise and revered one whose teachings continue to guide men and women around the world to lead a life of peace and joy.
Recently, I encountered his namesake. Another Siddhartha. Coincidently, he also left his beautiful home. But the difference is he did not choose to leave it. Instead, he had no other options but to leave his beautiful abode. Unwillingly, he became a Migrant. And not only him, but many others like him were compelled to leave their homes and ended sharing the same fate. They were once the proud Pundits. The well respected. The well read. The well lived. And the much envied by many as they lived in ‘Heaven’. The heaven called Kashmir.
But most of them were uprooted and thrown out ruthlessly with some managing to carry barely the very basics. Their own beautiful homes were left vacant or uncared for indefinitely, while they suffered humiliation, pain and social exclusion. Anyways I can go on and on… to describe their state of affairs and still not be able to bring out the extreme sufferings, the low life conditions and the struggle they must have gone through and are still experiencing just because they are Kashmiri Pundits. Frankly speaking, had I not read Siddhartha’s book, I would have never known about the kind of torturous existence the people of my own land went/going through just because of the damaging ‘man- made’ turmoil that refuses to die away. Just because no one is much bothered about humanity and the illogical and unjust sacrifice that is being asked of it. Just because voices are suppressed. Just because not many care. And maybe even just because we the masses or the ‘mainlanders’ have not experienced the tremendous pains and sufferings of the peripheral states, (like Jammu and Kashmir).
But let me commend the man who succeeded very well in portraying the exact state of affairs of the people of Kashmir, especially the migrant Pundits. His work literally brought tears to my eyes at several places when I went through his ‘Garden of Solitude’.
Sridar (the main protagonist) touched me with his relentless efforts and undying spirit to bring out the facts, the real stories, the good old days, the deep love between two culturally and traditionally different communities that lived in harmony before the trouble in Kashmir began and most of all the human spirit that still hopes for peace and happiness to return to the valley.
I thank Siddhartha for ‘enlightening’ me and many other readers like me. And wish him all the best for all that he is doing in order to spread knowledge, happiness and peace.