Neither curse nor cross of Albatross: (Beyond Two Peers of Kashmir)
Kashmiris think that the curse is not always result of their own sins but, sometimes, they trace the origin of their suffering to the sins & crimes of others. It happened so with the carpet weavers of Kashmir in past who, despite toiling hard & long, earned minimum money & failed to lay by something for future. They ascribed the cause of their ‘penury’ to the ‘sin’ which their forefathers had, in the beginning of 17 century, committed ‘by rebuking’ their original ‘trainer, benefactor’, who had traveled to far off Persia to learn & rediscover the declining art of carpet weaving in Kashmir. Named, Akhun Sahab, was the master, to whom their forefathers, thankless disciples, had turned their backs when he was in need of help from them whereupon he denounced upon them curse in these Kashmiri words: Zindus dung-dawal marit nirnak nah kafan ti . II
The guilt burdens a wrongdoer when some suffering or pain befalls him after his sin or crime. If no suffering or pain visits him, thereafter, the sense of guilt does not engage his mind. The concept is masterly explained in S T Coleridge’s classic poem, The Rime of Ancient Mariner (1798) where the Mariner did not have initially feeling of guilt & fear after killing Albatross that was following the ship. It came to him & the sailors only when in the aftermath of Albatross- killing, the ship was lost & wandered in a thick fog for several days, attacked by dreadful spirits of death & destruction. The sailors blamed the Mariner for their torturous suffering & pain which, they said to him, was caused by his sin & crime of killing a harmless sea bird which made them put the corpse of Albatross around his neck like a cross symbolizing execution for his wrong deed. They all died of thirst in the excruciating pain that ensued killing of Albatross with Mariner, however, left alone to survive by the Spirits of Death, but only to tell the world the story of his sin & crime, & the curse he carried for it. The suffering & pain of sailors before dying, one by one, slowly & painfully, was also curse on them for rejoicing & supporting his wrong deed.
The metaphors in Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner about sins & crimes & their consequential curse of suffering & pain, of punishment & penance, have its origin in all religious Scriptures of the world. So, whenever there is a wrong action, there is, sooner or later, reaction against it from the unseen sources of nature. This was a general belief among the people in olden times when the distinction between sin & crime remained blurred as both were treated as wrongs reprimanded with equal indignation by society & authority. But, as the societies progressed & developed towards modernism & democracy, bringing with them substantial changes in people’s thinking & beliefs, more freedoms & liberties, material properity, the two concepts got disconnected & separated, leaving punishment for sin to God’s realm, while punishment for crime has been placed in jurisdiction of law courts. Nonetheless, the vivid symbolism of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner continues to have application equally to both crime & sin.
It was a gross misuse of official power & breach of “fiduciary duty” by a ‘corporate monarch’, not different from what Mushtaq Peer had done as BOPEE chairman.
700 years before Henry Bracton, the English Judge has said: Even if “the king is under no man, [but] he is under God and law”.
Lord Macmillan has pithily summarised the whole idea in these words: “If no profession is nobler in its right exercise, so no profession can be baser in its abuse”.
Reason being they don’t undergo any consequential suffering or pain for their crimes. They face neither curse nor cross of Albatross that represents unfortunate wretch of their wrongs in Kashmirian society. They fail to understand something that they have to say to themselves: “They are guilty, they are wrong”.
They belong to socio-economic elite class of Kashmiris who “buy good legal brains” to defend themselves before courts & protract the criminal proceedings against them under procedural laws. Their lawyers know the “skill” of twisting and turning actual facts into mere allegations & vice versa, as the case demands. Their sermons hog the headlines of the Dailies. “White collar occupational” criminals are respected & eulogised, admired & invited-special-guests on special occasions & functions where they deliver, thus, sweet sermons on things of self-interest for self-aggrandizement. Amid rousing cheers of the audience, I in a corner soliloquize: Has long arm of law failed to wrap its fingers around the thick necks of these scot-free killers & their accomplice in the killing of innocent Albatross of Kashmir: careers, characters, chastity, competence & merit. ( C: Counter Currents)
M J Aslam is Author, academician, essayist, storyteller & freelance-columnist: