“Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat!”

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If you’ve been closely following the ongoing conflict in Kashmir, it’s difficult to give these words a miss. They are noticeable in newspaper headlines and are voiced intensely in our corridors of power. These are “magic words” of a conflict; a conflict “handcuffed to history”.

This writing, however, does not intend to assay the conflict in Kashmir. It is, for now, beyond my capability to write on a situation so sensitive and replete with political and historical furore. It will take me years of research, readings and writings to have a firm opinion on the Kashmir issue.

The purpose of this writing is to focus on conflict and its unheard voices. …


Three women historians and Bhopal.

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It was the call of the Indian History Congress that led three women historians, separated until now due to the vicissitudes of life, to rekindle a friendship they had set in motion over a decade ago. One was the guru, the guide and the other two her two dutiful students, now successful academics and researchers themselves.

The Congress or the celestial body of historians, as I choose to call it, congregates once every year to engage in extensive and exhaustive discussions on historical research. …


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Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar

A selfie today defines the great Indian family vacation. As uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandpas and grandmas throng to get that perfect shot, what lies forgotten is the purpose of the trip; the historical and cultural soul of the city visited frivolously hidden in the backdrop of those pouts and smiling faces. I remember a few family trips that I took as a child. Since I did not own a camera taking pictures was never a priority, but ‘observing’ was. ‘Observe the things that the city offers you’, my Dadaji would remind me in the train, ‘observe the people, the way they live, the monuments, the markets and then write something about it.’ …


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As the grueling summer sets in, I am reminded of my days in school when the month of May came with the much needed respite from textbooks, surprise tests, failed attempts to understand algebra and many such activities that my regimented and monotonous school life had to offer. What followed was an ephemeral joy of discovering Jane Austen, Jules Verne, R.L. Stevenson and Louisa May Alcott, who kept me good company during those dry and arid afternoons. Summers were also a time for grand parents and their stories that encompassed everything from Hindu mythology to fairytales.

My grandfather, or dadaji, as I fondly called him, did not believe in drawing influences from tales that were not real. His stories were narratives from his own life, with every experience being a lesson to be learnt. One such summer, he shared a portentous experience of his life . While my fellow classmates busied themselves in finishing their holiday assignments, I, choosing to ignore the need to improve my weak mathematical skills, sat on his lap and heard out the story of my family’s migration. A migration that began in a village, now located in Pakistan, and ended in a tent at a refugee camp in Delhi. The story, now imprinted in my mind, was to surreptitiously shape my personal and professional life. …


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My ‘doctoral cronies’ would agree that pursuing a PhD formulates an event of a lifetime. From the day the idea germinates, research determines every aspect of your life; the hypothesis evolving every second. It follows you to the library, the park, the gym, the dinner table and also pays a visit or two in your dreams. ‘You are married to your research, Moon Moon’, my supervisor once said as she excitedly took a few sips of Coke. Sitting at our university canteen, she pointed out at the drudgery that was my PhD. ‘It’s like having a demanding husband or a boyfriend or like carrying a baby or a monster sitting on your back’. …

About

Moon Moon Jetley

Book hoarder. Closet writer. History delver. Constant thinker — and all in a day’s work.

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