I close my eyes, yet I still see
I can not hide from what's inside of me
I hear my thoughts, but they're not clear
And now I tremble with fear
No one can tell me what's sane
You see the tears I cry
But you can't feel my pain
No title can classify me
I'm a person with feelings
A number I refuse to be
Don't try to live my life
You cannot talk for me
Now I'm on the brink, brink of insanity
Sometimes I stare into space
I try to think about another place
Where happiness I'll see
I'll find a place for me and find some sanity
Sometimes I look at you
And I wonder what will I do
Will my mind stay intact
How will I react, will I do any harm to you
Open my eyes, but I can't see
Maybe the hatred has blinded me
There's not a sound, yet I still hear
Now the pain is so clear
Sometimes I stop to think
Or maybe my thinking just stops
Doesn't matter anyway
No one hears what I say, I'm on the brink of insanity
Well I know him but not his name
In everyone, yet not the same
Play with the cards i'm dealt, worse I never felt
I'm playing a sick man's game

Many years ago, around this time I went to Kashmir. This was a song about a region my ancesters grew up near and one that is dear to my heart. When I visited there during the summers, I grew up in its apple orchards and lush green meadows, dreamed on the banks of its freshwater streams. I went to school to see the local children, remember them sitting on straw mats and remembering tables by heart. After school, I saw that little children would rush half-way home, tear off their uniforms and dive into the cold water. Then quickly dry their hair, so their parents would not find out what they had done. It brings tears in my eyes as I recall it. Sometimes, my niece felt daring and would skip an entire day of school to play cricket.

The village I lived in lies in the foothills of the Himalayas. During summer breaks, I would trek to the meadows high in the mountains carrying salt slates for the family cattle, sit around a campfire and play the flute for hours. The chilling winter would turn the boys and girls of our small village into one huge family - huddled together in a big room, we would listen to stories till late into the night. Sipping hot cups of the traditional salt tea, the village elder who had inherited the art of storytelling would transport us to the era of his tales. He had never been to school but he remembered hundreds of beautiful stories by heart as my grandmother had done when I was a little child.

As the days and months passed, and as the routes the militants took to cross the border became known to Indian security forces, the bodies began to arrive. Lines of young men would disappear on a ridge as they tried to cross over or return home. The stadiums where we had played cricket and soccer, the beautiful green parks where we had gone on school excursions as children, were turned into martyrs' graveyards. One after another, those who had played in those places were buried there, with huge marble epitaphs detailing their sacrifice.

I had known that. But I visited Kashmir every time some maniac pulled the trigger and killed innocents. I would run to my room, throw a few shirts, jeans, a notebook and my camera into my backpack, lock my room and head for the airport. I began calling my friends in Kashmir to find out where the massacre had occurred. I wanted to know which village it was in.

Now as I recall: "Nobody cares about us," an elder told me. He did not speak like a Kashmiri. And he hated Muslims. I could not muster the courage to tell him that many of my friends were. I told him I was a Hindu from Kolkata. As I walked around, trying to locate the people from my part of Kashmir, a 50-something man in a white kurta appeared out of a narrow, dingy lane.

As the death toll of Kashmiris mounted, the world saw the violent movement only as the outcome of a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan which had its roots in the 1947 partition. India always called the rebellion a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist movement, while Pakistan projected it as a jihad - a Kashmiri struggle to join Pakistan just because they shared a common faith. Tragedy of Kashmir owes its origin to conflicts of many world leaders. They unfortunately overlooked the sign posts and took wrong turns. That speeding prooved suicidical on mountain roads. But shelter was taken under banality, ambiguity, inanities and what is worse disinformation. Indian people have been fed on lies and illusions. Facts and situations about Kashmir have been twisted on the fond hope that tomorrow may be all right.

But I share a bond with Kashmir. And it is a strong bond. I belong to Kashmir, but as a region we are partners in the grief and misery of our beautiful valley. Today, there are more than 500 martyrs' graveyards dotting Kashmir, and every epitaph standing on a grave tells a story - a tragic story of generations. Engraving epitaphs has become a lucrative business.