In Kashmir where the year has four clear seasons, my mother spoke of her childhood
in the plains of Lucknow, and of that season in itself, the monsoon, when Krishna’s
flute is heard on the shores of the Jamuna.
While children run out into the alleys, soaking their utter summer,
messages pass between lovers. Heer and Ranjha and others of legends, their love forbidden,
burned incense all night, waiting for answers. My mother hummed Heer’s lament
but never told me if she also burned sticks of jasmine that, dying,
kept raising soft necks of ash. I imagined each neck leaning
on the humid air. She only said: The monsoons never cross the mountains into Kashmir.
Agha Shahid Ali
A disputed land between India and Pakistan since 1947, Kashmir is today one of the most militarized zones in the world.
Soon after gaining independence from the British Empire, the two countries fought a war over Kashmir until the end of 1948. In the same year, the United Nations Security Council adopted the Resolution 47, urging the preparation of a plebiscite in order to let the Kashmiri people decide whether to join India or Pakistan.
No such plebiscite has ever been held.
Since the Nineties, Kashmir has been witnessing various political uprising against the Indian administration. Every time the Kashmiri people fought for Azadi (“freedom”, in Urdu), their struggle has been silenced with blood.
Despite the unpredictable new season of protests, repression and martyrs, the situation has still not changed. The systematic violation of human rights perpetrated by Indian security forces has filled the hearts of Kashmiri men and women with disillusionment, resentment and sorrow. It’s a collective grief pushing towards peculiar religious practices, in a desperate search for respite: the veneration of those who sacrificed their lives for the pursuit of Azadi becomes the prosecution of the popular cult of dead Sufi saints.
“Monsoons never cross the mountains” is a visual journey through the struggle of the Kashmiri people, trapped in an endless season of sorrow while waiting for the spring of Azadi. It is an attempt to depict the emotional landscape of the valley of Kashmir through the eyes of children, entangled in this cycle from the very beginning of their life.