Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang

Hauz Rani Protests

by , 27 Mar 2020

By Huma Sheikh

Peace, I say and walk into the tent of polyester fabric hung from wooden poles. What I don’t say is that I see a concentration camp here. The 35th day of sit-in by protestors of the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB).

The CAB, bigger than a pick-up wagon to haul Indian Muslims from India.

A Muslim woman in a black abaya is reciting prayers. Allah hum sab ko sehan sakhti de, Sab taraf aman-chain ho . . . May Allah give us strength. Peace. It’s Maghrib prayer time. Other women on willow and Styrofoam mats recite the prayer in unison.

These women, like bare branches of a lone tree here in Hauz Rani at Gandhi Park, coil about themselves. Colorless.

One woman protester puts her arm around my shoulder, “Aren’t you Afghani? Why isn’t Modi kicking you out? You weren’t even born here.” I don’t tell her I am Kashmiri.

Is there a difference between her and that Kashmiri woman I saw in the Select City Mall the other day? Not really a lot, I think to myself, as her Kashmiri face races across my eyes.

She wasn’t looking at me but at the beautiful spring bodies of women in short dresses and men in bermudas drifting down the line of stores— until I heard Kashmiri words under her breath: amis chuna garam gasaan ath jacketus manj, yuta taap hei chu: isn’t she feeling hot in the waistcoat when the Sun is so low across the sky.

Her daughter sat between us and didn't glance at her. She was talking softly like her mother, who beheld my jacket out of the corner of her eye: Quiet down, quiet down.

They don’t know I am Kashmiri. My mother and I have the same style of talking. I watched the daughter as she cleverly shook off her legs dangling over the ground. I folded mine up on the concrete seat around the Peepal tree.

Now here at the park, tied to the tree--frayed, soiled posters of Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh.

Everything starts smelling good like the Peepal tree out of its small Kashmir world and every branch of the Gandhi tree here blossoming with the other. The abayas and sarees swaying broadly this way and that, the branches sliding back and forth between raised fists of sisters and daughters, dadis or grandmothers, bob haired and long haired LGBTQ activists in khadi jackets and kameezes. These real brown princesses are more than just the fictional characters of Alderaan, Princess Leias of Star Wars dominating the men’s series.

I sit among the tinted branches.

 

The author is originally from Kashmir, the war-torn region of India. She is pursuing a PhD at Florida State University. 

Her essays and poems have appeared in various journals, newspapers, and magazines

Hauz Rani Protests

By Huma Sheikh

Peace, I say and walk into the tent of polyester fabric hung from wooden poles. What I don’t say is that I see a concentration camp here. The 35th day of sit-in by protestors of the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB).

The CAB, bigger than a pick-up wagon to haul Indian Muslims from India.

A Muslim woman in a black abaya is reciting prayers. Allah hum sab ko sehan sakhti de, Sab taraf aman-chain ho . . . May Allah give us strength. Peace. It’s Maghrib prayer time. Other women on willow and Styrofoam mats recite the prayer in unison.

These women, like bare branches of a lone tree here in Hauz Rani at Gandhi Park, coil about themselves. Colorless.

One woman protester puts her arm around my shoulder, “Aren’t you Afghani? Why isn’t Modi kicking you out? You weren’t even born here.” I don’t tell her I am Kashmiri.

Is there a difference between her and that Kashmiri woman I saw in the Select City Mall the other day? Not really a lot, I think to myself, as her Kashmiri face races across my eyes.

She wasn’t looking at me but at the beautiful spring bodies of women in short dresses and men in bermudas drifting down the line of stores— until I heard Kashmiri words under her breath: amis chuna garam gasaan ath jacketus manj, yuta taap hei chu: isn’t she feeling hot in the waistcoat when the Sun is so low across the sky.

Her daughter sat between us and didn't glance at her. She was talking softly like her mother, who beheld my jacket out of the corner of her eye: Quiet down, quiet down.

They don’t know I am Kashmiri. My mother and I have the same style of talking. I watched the daughter as she cleverly shook off her legs dangling over the ground. I folded mine up on the concrete seat around the Peepal tree.

Now here at the park, tied to the tree--frayed, soiled posters of Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh.

Everything starts smelling good like the Peepal tree out of its small Kashmir world and every branch of the Gandhi tree here blossoming with the other. The abayas and sarees swaying broadly this way and that, the branches sliding back and forth between raised fists of sisters and daughters, dadis or grandmothers, bob haired and long haired LGBTQ activists in khadi jackets and kameezes. These real brown princesses are more than just the fictional characters of Alderaan, Princess Leias of Star Wars dominating the men’s series.

I sit among the tinted branches.

 

The author is originally from Kashmir, the war-torn region of India. She is pursuing a PhD at Florida State University. 

Her essays and poems have appeared in various journals, newspapers, and magazines

Related Articles

Communalism

Malappuram is not in the Wild West, Madam Maneka Gandhi: Open Letter

This scathing open letter on face book exposes not just the ill-informed rants of the former minister and BJP Member of Parliament (MP) from Sultanpur, Maneka Gandhi but challenges her and her party to please enact a law not to use elephants (or cranes) in public gatherings, festivals and processions, which the writer says will get all Kerala’s support

Communalism

Malappuram is not in the Wild West, Madam Maneka Gandhi: Open Letter

This scathing open letter on face book exposes not just the ill-informed rants of the former minister and BJP Member of Parliament (MP) from Sultanpur, Maneka Gandhi but challenges her and her party to please enact a law not to use elephants (or cranes) in public gatherings, festivals and processions, which the writer says will get all Kerala’s support


News in Brief

Monday

13

Jan

Nationwide

Saturday

04

Jan

Karve Statue, Kothrud, Pune

Theme

Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura
summer

Summer Culture

Our first summer culture bouquet features fiction from Syria and Iraq and poetry and art from Palestine.
khoj

Teaching Without Prejudice

Report of the CABE Committee on 'Regulatory Mechanisms for Textbooks and Parallel Textbooks Taught in Schools Outside the Government System

Campaigns

Monday

13

Jan

Nationwide

Saturday

04

Jan

Karve Statue, Kothrud, Pune

Videos

Culture

Watch: Sufism and its influence on Indian music

In this SabrangIndia exclusive video, Pandit Anindya Banerjee, classical musician Kallol Ghoshal and folk researcher Niladri Sekhar DasSharma talk about the Influence of Islam on Indian Music and how the Sufis, known for their great love for music and acceptance of many indigenous customs, allowed Syncretism to flourish in Bengal.

Culture

Watch: Sufism and its influence on Indian music

In this SabrangIndia exclusive video, Pandit Anindya Banerjee, classical musician Kallol Ghoshal and folk researcher Niladri Sekhar DasSharma talk about the Influence of Islam on Indian Music and how the Sufis, known for their great love for music and acceptance of many indigenous customs, allowed Syncretism to flourish in Bengal.

Analysis

Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura
summer

Summer Culture

Our first summer culture bouquet features fiction from Syria and Iraq and poetry and art from Palestine.
khoj

Teaching Without Prejudice

Report of the CABE Committee on 'Regulatory Mechanisms for Textbooks and Parallel Textbooks Taught in Schools Outside the Government System

Archives