The Healing Powers Of Reading

Book Reading As Bibliotherapy In Kashmir

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A season of death, a season of loss; our buds rest into coffins, our blossoms have the scent of scars. With a call for Namaz, there’s a greater call to visit graveyards. Decades of violence; an abode of learners, a valley blooming with the hues of knowledge— now cradles in the darkness of ignorance.

From a culture where education and learning were celebrated, we’ve stepped into a culture where hartals, curfews and stagnancy are celebrated. We look upon holidays of these different forms with an undying zest. And, no wonder, Kashmir now comes across a place known for its misery and desolation.

It immerses in our lives like the saffron strands in our Kehwa, burns like the embers in our Kangri we keep close to feel warm.

Pain visits us all, every morning; peeping through our windows, embracing us the moment we step outside to greet the beautiful new dawn. It immerses in our lives like the saffron strands in our Kehwa, burns like the embers in our Kangri we keep close to feel warm.

We can employ the pain to empower ourselves, or we can let it be a barrier against everything we wish to be, and do in life. We can use it to rise way beyond ourselves, or we can let it drag us down.

Because pain has always been a part of our story― of who we are, we perceive ourselves differently with a lens of pain. And, we’ve even started shrinking our identities around the words like ‘conflict’ and ‘victims’. We might blame governments, expect policies to pop up and save us from the wars we are being pushed towards, but deep down we know that’s not happening. None of us can deny pain but we can surely learn from it. And, to learn from pain, we first need to learn enduring the pain. We can employ the pain to empower ourselves, or we can let it be a barrier against everything we wish to be, and do in life. We can use it to rise way beyond ourselves, or we can let it drag us down.

We all are aware of the fact that books enhance our knowledge, help us learn; some read to improve their reality while some do to dive deep into a world of imagination. But being a Kashmiri, we all need the healing touch of books more than anyone else, for every time we wish to rise the shadows of war push us down.

After witnessing pain for such a long time, we’re now caught in a web of self-pitying. We feel so victimized that we have come to believe that no form of pain exist other than ours. We have become so self-absorbed that we choose to neglect how people other than us are suffering in their own different ways. So, when you read a book about others’ pain and sufferings, you are able to look beyond your own pain, beyond your own self, and that’s the true beauty of being human. And, in order to actually grow, we need to get rid of this web of victimization we’ve chosen for ourselves.

While reading, we’re listening to someone else. We tend to become patient as a human, as a listener, and less of a miserable person talking about his pain all the time. Our pain appears little to us when we acknowledge the forms of ache consuming the world. We tend to become more grateful and learn to seek acceptance.

By reading about emotions felt by others and how they deal with them, we’re able to orient our emotions in a positive direction. We become more of a human, for we feel for others. Our strengths come to surface and we’re equipped with a sense of empowerment that “We too can overcome whatever is letting us down!”

…coming across updates of killings and encounters on a daily basis, we’re shattered… so, when we read a book… alternate pictures to war find their way in our mind…

Being surrounded by different aspects of war and conflict, coming across updates of killings and encounters on a daily basis, we’re shattered from within. So, when we read a book, we’re creating our personal positive space amidst the chaos that surrounds, rather consumes us slowly. Alternate pictures to war find their way in our mind which is a healing aspect of reading. It hardly gets us to visualize anything other than war but it really is something for which we need to let the external factors lose their power to define us.

Kashmir has always been the fountainhead of knowledge. It’s been a home of learning for ages. Our history is bedecked with gems like Lal Ded, Nund Reshi, Rasool Mir, Habba Khatoon, Rahman Rahi, Abdul Ahad Azad, Mehjoor and many more alike, whose words are drenched in enlightenment.

Being a Kashmiri might feel different, but being a human is more difficult. And that’s the beauty of it. Beautiful things might not come easy but they really are worth it. Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you’ll forever be free. Knowledge makes human unfit to be a slave”. And I find it beautifully relatable.

Our knowledge is our blossom. Our learning is our spring.

We have to restore the legacy of Kashmir; our Peeri-vaer, rather than leaving a legacy of ceaseless hartals, curfews and ignorance. We have to confront ourselves, question ourselves as to how this lack of education will lead us to an age of ruins. Our knowledge is our blossom. Our learning is our spring.

Begin with yourself. Let no circumstances define how you learn and how much you learn. Start off with anything that interests you. Start by knowing yourself, and then your homeland. Take small steps to know your roots, and you won’t feel like stopping at all.

We will rewrite our lives with the ink of hope. We will rise against the conflict around, and deep within our bones.

It’s a sense of purpose, a sense of improving yourself and others around you that makes you human. And, only after knowing that you can help yourself and others improve, let’s become people with the purpose of fuelling endless improvements, and let our Beloved Kashmir once again cradle in the Noor of learning. We will rewrite our lives with the ink of hope. We will rise against the conflict around, and deep within our bones.

 


Aiman Khan is a 19-year old engineering student who writes about how the people of Kashmir are aging with the conflict. She believes that literature is the most powerful tool to impact millions of people in million different ways. She can be reached at her Instagram handle @aimankhan_3 or at her e-mail address here.

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