A Kashmiri displaced from his/her motherland has a knack of looking out for people, cuisine, music and anything related to the world of Kashmir… I am one among them..
I stepped out of my cocoon to pursue my bachelors when I was 17 and by that time I had imbibed much of Kashmiri culture within me. I knew it’s not going to be easy being away from my roots as universities are mini capitals of a nation. You have people from every nook and corner living, studying and thriving to be the best with you.
I had never thought of finding another Kashmiri there but God had some other plans. I became friends with a Kashmir ki kali– Nida.
Nida was beautiful and a dainty darling, enough to justify this term.
After the completion of our graduation, we got back to our respective cocoons. Both of us wanted to pursue our masters and for the same she had to visit my place for a few days.
So, when someone visits you from the valley, all you expect is monj haakh (collard greens), nadur (lotus stem) and other such locally grown and cultured dry vegetables. But, to my surprise she had more than that in store for me and my family. Her mother had sent talith gaad (fried fish) and a Phiran for me… Yes, you read that right- Phiran.
Phiran is a loose garment made of either wool or jamwar which is a mixture of wool and cotton. While male Phiran dresses are quite simple without any colorful designs or work on them, for females they have colorful flowers and intricate patterns of gold, silver and colored threads on them.
Because gifts are always special, this one was dear to me as well. One reason being given by my very close friend, another being the memories associated with it in my life.
At the very touch of it, struck the days when my grandfather used to wear Phiran and carry a kanger (a clay fire-pot, woven around with wicker and filled with hot coal) to keep the chill at bay. Once, he was warm, he used to put me inside his Phiran with my face out of the neck line to make sure I stay nice and warm too… (I am sure many of you can relate to this)
He used to carry me like that everywhere in the house and tell stories about our home in Kashmir. Another very interesting thing was to sit in his lap and check out the pockets of his Phiran only to find walnuts and other dry fruits during the month of Herath (Shivratri as others call it).
All those years, he made it a point that his Phiran stayed a part of his identity in winters. Though at times we felt he was overdoing it by wearing it to social gatherings and stuffs. You know how judgmental people are with your outer appearance. Least do they realize, that time was not far when we won’t have such people around us, who take pride in showing off their culture and, who love their roots and not how the tree looks to the world!
He left us, leaving his Phiran and kanger behind, his pride and his passion for us to take forward.
Today, being far away from my country and my family, I miss him, his lap, his Phiran stories and his kanger..