The Scarlet Letter

After Afzal Guru was executed the Home Ministry of India took the trouble to tell its media that it had over reached itself in humanitarian causes, and informed the family of Guru via Speed Post. Speed Post being the ministry’s choicest mode of communication in all matters of life and death. This extremely generous measure of India came as a surprise to many Indians who suddenly found their Collective Conscience revolting. Some others praised the charitable nature of the act and wondered wouldn’t a telegram have been more judicious in these times of financial difficulty. Others complained that old regular mail would have been expedient and gone a step ahead to represent India. Still others complained of minor headaches and heartaches.

In all possibility the Speed Post did not speed enough. His family claimed that they have received no mails, but the news reached them through television. The uncanny celebrations in India were due to their family member’s death. This much they understood. 

There was at least one voice in Kashmir which said that the letter should not have been written, and that the news should have been broken by the local government. That was the government itself. The government was camping in Srinagar, keeping people under curfew, to make sure everyone was just waiting for the letter. The letter itself was nowhere to be found, because post offices are closed on Sundays. A few were cynical. They smelled an Indian conspiracy in the delayed letter. It was, however, laid to rest when some troll of Twitter pointed out that even if it is a conspiracy from India, it is still smaller in magnitude than the conspiracies of ISI. ISI conspiracies being the reason for sundry floods and earthquakes in India. One of the rules of collective Indian conscience, everything Indian must have a similar and more sinister Pakistani variant.

Of course, by Sunday the much awaited letter was irrelevant, like a guest who had arrived after the feast. Everyone knew of the hanging by then. India’s collective conscience was burping  on TV and farting in press conferences. A few were found protesting at Jantar Mantar, but on being discovered to be Kashmiris they were promptly beaten and arrested.

On 10th February the scarlet letter hadn’t arrived in Sopore. On 11th February, when the valley was under curfew, it was delivered. No one interviewed the brave postman who (ironically) risked his life to deliver the letter. Perhaps it was delivered by a posse of policemen, which is plausible because they are the only ones who could reach Guru’s house. The letter presented itself and it was instantly found that they had hung the wrong man. “Afjal Guru” the letter insisted was to be hanged, but Afzal had already died. Also, as it turned out, the letter was not a letter at all, it was a memo. Why should jailers bother themselves with spellings and writing etiquette anyways? Or decency for that matter.

The letter was not stamped by any one, as if stamping would have actually mattered. It was signed by the Jail Superintendent and was only for “information and further action”. Further action being folding it and storing it away.

This was duly done by the Gurus. And a thousand other Kashmiris.


Author: Rich Autumns

Blogger from Kashmir. Twitter: @RichAutumns

3 thoughts on “The Scarlet Letter”

  1. Hmm….interestingly told tale of the letter that seemed like an afterthought of the 'collective conscience'. You have a long way to go dear Autumn. May Spring keep interrupting the autumnal phase with new green leaves, a fresh change after the browns fall… 🙂


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