They say heaven is a place where there are rivers of milk and honey, trees abundant with the juiciest fruits, houses that resemble palaces, and everyone is joyous all the time. (Never in my life have I heard about the 72 virgins theory, just FYI.) There’s a heaven seven skies above us, apparently, and one on Earth. Getting there from Mumbai involves either a 2 and a half day train ride¬†or a very boring 3-hour flight, which occasionally involves troublesome children who I could punch.¬†Tucked away in a far-flung part of the country, Kashmir breathes, noiselessly.

The region felt like it was blanketed in a sadness that one could walk through. It could be a result of the floods last year with many vendors telling us how things are not the same anymore. But when are they ever?

While my trip involved riding on a pony up and down a mountain, it also involved a lot of soaking – sometimes with snow, rain, mist, and the voicelessness. I didn’t expect to write home about how beautiful and fantastic Kashmir is, especially since Vishal Bharadwaj’s poetry about human blood dissolving into the Jhelum stayed with me. But I didn’t even expect to say how sad it made me. As much as I tried to see it for the jannat it was, I wondered how heaven could get destroyed? Even if it did get ruined, how did it raise its head ever so slowly with so much sadness in its eyes? How could Kashmir ever be jannat? In fact, how could jannat itself ever be at all?

Nothing else makes sense and then, Ghalib comes to the rescue here.

Hum jaante hai jannat ki haqeeqat Ghalib,
Dil behlane ko khayal accha hai.

Part 2 of Let There be Space