Kashmir

 

The valley between the Himalayas

The land of my roots,

my heritage

Has its beauty preserved by the stories

of my mother

Who speaks so fondly of her childhood

there

 

But when I look back

Her tales do not match

The battered

torn

brokenness

I see

 

Oh lotus flower,

Fight the putrid water’s choke

So that I, too

Can tell my children

The artistry you behold.

Despite being raised in America, I cannot conceive of myself without my Kashmiri background. My parents immigrated from Kashmir to America in 1997, and I was born in Arlington, Virginia three years later. I grew up in a Mid-Atlantic Kashmiri subculture that shaped my perspective and engendered a love for my parents’ homeland. Summers were spent back in Kashmir being loved by family and deepening my appreciation for my heritage.

Kashmir is a picturesque valley of glacier-capped mountains and freshwater rivers nestled in the Himalayas. It is where I feel most connected to my family. Kashmir has shown me how beautiful the world can be and inspires me to pursue a life that allows for those experiences.

Kashmir, however, is a disputed territory. Its allure is deteriorating due to political strife. The breakdown of infrastructure has resulted in polluted streets and lakes that are no longer pristine. These images do not parallel the tales of my parents’ childhood. Instability has also meant violence. I can never forget the echoes of gunshots, seeing soldiers stationed at every street corner, being confined at home for days at a time due to government-imposed curfews, and finding a tear gas shell buried in our front yard. The conflict is worsening, changing the Kashmir of my memories and looms over daily life there.

Thus I capture every aspect of Kashmir in my photos in order to keep my memories and treasure its beauty. My documentary-style pieces cover the streets, landmarks, scenery, and people of Kashmir. I hope that after viewing my portfolio, people may share love and appreciation for my home, and catch a glimpse of its brilliance before it is all gone.