On the Face of Kashmir — Frown Frames
Despite everything, the faces in Kashmir haven’t given up on their grace. The spirit to take everything on their chin and move on with their lives makes many wonder about the retained humanization in the vale.
Some half a dozen aged men, well past their superannuation, are doing a passionate political commentary inside a tailor’s medieval shop in Srinagar. In City’s sweeping architectural change created by the non-local masonry, these enduring shops have become the remaining relics of Kashmir’s heritage past.
In their senile age, the vocal elders are still showing some spine to talk about the taboo. Their verbal outburst, however, remains confined to the shop—battered by the vagaries of weather and assault of times.
Soon after creating a storm in a teacup, they start dispersing with sullen and silent faces.
Faces they wear tell an insightful story of the life of contemporary Kashmir.
As the tribe of frown faces grows, the fresh faces known for their huddled chorus stand stonewalled. As explained by one of the wandering souls of the valley with verve for the venture: “These faces have been plagued by anguish, agony, anger.”
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But some have beseeching looks, as flashed by their forefathers when taken for the bonded labour in some godforsaken land, or when hanged from bridges.
“In the face of offensive, we look towards Heavens,” says an icon who has become an idler in Naya Kashmir. “Guess we deserve some reham!”
When the masses pray with the pleading faces, it creates a resounding cry for emancipation. This massive and collective display of grief is telling.
But somewhere in this crowd of concerned countenances, some innocence is still intact. It gets reflected from the faces of the buds of the valley. They whine, they whimper, but they do create wonder by bringing smile and solace to the woeful world they have come to grace.
And then, there’re symbols shadowing this very beauty. Those probing faces are known to impose injunctions, even if that means to review identity and impose confinement with the glowering faces and distrust eyes.
Faces tell tales of times. They also create a certain symbolism that goes on to define the pulse of life. Presently, in the juggled terrain, the fizzled fury has paved the way to a cryptic quiet. Perhaps, unassuming is the word, so is being relevant to times.
But in the prevailing faceoff, the symbols of innocence are being groomed on the expected lines. Following an automatic routine, these young lots have become frown faces craving for some regularity. Apart from the inherited curbs, the viral quarantine is only making them the humdrum homemade products.
Apart from these fresh-frown faces, the furrowed ones have their own share of concerns. For most of them, the curtailed congregations have become the agony of the soul. These vexed faces aren’t making peace with what they call “prying in their faithful routine”.
But despite this and that, the faces in Kashmir haven’t given up on their grace. The spirit to take everything on their chin and move on with their lives makes many wonder about the retained humanization in the vale.
However, even with this guarded humanity, they’re ageing fast — within walls, in wait, and while expecting their woes to wane — due to brouhaha in their lives. The very tryst makes them the lost tribe, figuratively speaking, of some distant legend.
At the end of the day, the haunting melancholia of mountains even makes the towering personalities look like some glum characters. This makes many believe that there’s some curse making the otherwise bright faces look like the wretched ones.
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Mumin Gul is a documentary photographer and multimedia journalist based in Kashmir. His focus mostly lies in long-term photo projects. He is currently a multimedia intern at the Mountain Ink.