I am here at Waidhan in Madhyapradesh for a project field work, and I met Aryan at the hotel I’m living in.
I was walking to my room. We met at the corridor and smiled at each other. He has a beautiful smile – you can see it in the picture. We ended up talking about ourselves, and when I said I’m from Kerala he said he was from the other end of India – Kashmir. He said it wouldn’t be safe to talk there at the corridor as he was supposed to be working, and we moved to the pantry room. I sat there, and he opened up to me.
He was here with a friend of him, a B Tech graduate – looking for a job in the energy capital of India. The Singrauli district of Madhyapradesh – rich in coal deposits, is known as the energy capital of India for the many power plants operating in it, both private and public sector players.
He and his friend stayed here for a few days, the job hunting didn’t work out, and was planning to return to Kashmir.
But then happens the scrapping of article 370, and communication blockade in Kashmir which continues to date, albeit partially. They were not able to communicate to their family for almost two months. They had ran out of money and was at the verge of starving, when they found the job of a waiter here, at a meagre remuneration monthly. He is planning to go back to Kashmir once he gets this month’s salary, and is able to afford the journey.
“I’m a lawyer, maybe you can call me if you’re ever in need of some legal help” – I said casually, as we shook hands and parted.
He smiled pensively and asked : “kanoon kya kar sakte hain sir?” (What can law do, sir?)
I felt so helpless.
I felt pity about the pride with which I wore the lawyer’s robe on my enrollment day.
We are failing as a system, each passing day.
We are failing a nation, as a democracy.