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In Pictures: Budding Life Amid Lifelessness
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In Pictures: Budding Life Amid Lifelessness

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Amid pervasive gloom, there’re some stark signs of resilience for life in the Valley. And children are only acting as a guiding light in this regard.

Aqeel is far from his sombre shadow that used to envelop his sorrowing self amid lockdown till recent past. Otherwise a sulking kid of 10, he’s now smiling what life has to offer: the small study groups, proximity with his family and an uncanny street stint in the afternoon.

Every day as the clock strikes 4, Aqeel comes out of his Old Srinagar home, nestled nearby restive Nowhatta, along with his hawkish pack who’re still years away from growing moustaches.

As the streets, where once lads of his hometown would gather to confront forces with stones, have now become a slight sight of the nineties—checkpoints, concertina wires, drop-gates and sand pickets—the kid these days come out to settle some other scores.

“The method remains the same, but the madness has changed,” says Sofi Imtiyaz, a banker in his mid-forties, drawing parallels between the stony street strife. “These kids have found a new enemy in canine dogs barking on streets throughout the night and trouble their sleep.”

After some active chases and giggles, they return home to grapple with the dogged routine enforced on them since last summer when a lockdown shut their schools and confined them indoors.

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“Earlier,” the banker continues, “my 12-year-old daughter would get angry and have mood swings. But with time, she has learned to cope with life and develop meaningful engagement with it. She’s now learning Cooking and Art.”

What Imtiyaz says has already become a sweeping perception about the lockdown-plagued society—where people are now becoming mindful, perhaps like never before, to find a newer means and methods to engage their kids in a very meaningful manner.

“This lockdown is nothing new for us,” says Mushtaq Shah, 39, a grocer whose two sons are the part of the afternoon showdown against the street strays in parts of Downtown. “We’ve been in the state of lockdown since 1989. But all these years, we haven’t stopped living, so why should our children grow hopeless beings.”

The change may not be visible, but Kashmiri households today are making their kids resilient enough to face and overcome their enforced situation in their troubled homeland.

Sample this: Till a couple of fortnights ago, Haleema’s 13-year-old son would sit sullenly in one corner of their home in Batamaloo, Srinagar. The full of gossip streets and alarming TV would escalate his state of anxiety and growing silence.

“Without relying on anyone, I had a long chat with him one night,” the mother in late thirties says. “I told him, ‘Listen son, think of children of Syria and elsewhere where they’ve no roof over their head. Think of those who don’t have mothers with them. And think of those children who can’t afford two-meals a day. Whatever our circumstances, we need to live another day in the hope of redemption.’ The conversation lasted over an hour and at the end of it, he embraced me in a very reassuring manner.”

The late-night talk helped. Instead of aloofness, Haleema’s kid is now craving for some company to play and engage with.

“In every eventuality, we’ve to groom our kids to become realist in life,” the mother says. “Freaking them out, or leaving them unattended, won’t help. We need to teach them to fight their odds. We need to make them resilient in life.”

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