Force Magazine

 Uncertain Times
 The tragedy of Kashmir is that it doesn’t have any leaders, only politicians

Uncertain TimesIt was no surprise that 17-year-old Pervez got curious. The FORCE team inside Jamia Masjid, in Srinagar’s old city was indeed an unusual sight. In fact, just before Pervez was drawn to the cameras and the journalists, an elderly man walking by with a long, salt-and-pepper beard gestured in a manner suggesting that the woman journalist must cover her head. So when Pervez walked up, the photographer was fidgeting with his lenses and the jeans-clad journalist was struggling to keep the shawl on her head.

Playing safe, he started the conversation with the photographer in Kashmiri; but not in a hushed tone. He smiled warmly and looked at the visitors with open interest. A few minutes’ exchange with a fellow Kashmiri emboldened him to engage the visitors directly.

“You are a journalist?” he asked in friendly Urdu with a smattering of English. “From Delhi?,” he sought to reconfirm what the photographer told him.

The wonderment in his hazel eyes didn’t go even upon affirmation. “I have never met a journalist from Delhi before, though so many come to Srinagar,” he said. Beyond Kashmiri, it seemed he needed the support of two languages to express himself confidently.

Wearing tracks under an oversized pheran, Pervez was a regular teenager, curious about the world, which he hadn’t seen yet. Was he a student?

“What else?” he grinned, as if it was a funny question. “I am in class XI,” he added.

What are his subjects?

“I have science with mathematics, but I have taken an additional subject, geology, just in case,” the grin refused to leave his face.
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