How Bakshis keep the memory of their dead son alive
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Srinagar: Human rights activist and lawyer Parvez Imroz recently made an important point in his speech at the Rafto Conference in Norway: Kashmiris need to institutionalise their collective memory.

As time moves ahead, it is difficult for the oppressed people to marshall their thoughts as layers and layers of forgetfulness make the memory foggy. Even though, the full-blown repression of the nineties is itched in the collective memory of the Kashmiris, however there is a need to invent ways to keep the memory fresh as to what has happened in the past.

Shafeeq Ahmad Bakshi, a Srinagar-based medical doctor, knows exactly how to remember his militant brother Shariq Ahmad Bakshi, divisional commander of Harkat-ul-Ansar, everyday. Shariq was 23 when he was killed in an encounter in Peerbagh area of Srinagar in November 1998 along with a local, Iqbal, and two Pakistani militants. In his teenage days, Shariq was shot and injured by the government forces during a curfew in Srinagar. Shariq is also the brother of pro-freedom leader Shakeel Ahmad Bakshi.

 

Sharik’s relatives surround his dead body

Exactly a decade after the killing of Shariq, Shafeeq was blessed with a male baby.
“I had full faith that Allah will return to us our brother in this very world. And the moment my son came to this world I saw the fulfilment of a divine promise,” says Shafeeq.

Incidentally, Shafeeq’s wife too had a militant brother, Rizwan, who was killed in a gunfight in 2003. Both were keen to name the baby boy after their militant brother. Ultimately, the boy was given a name that was combination of both the names: Shariq Rizwan.

“Many tell me that my son is unlike other children. Though he doesn’t resemble his deceased uncle, he possesses some of his traits,” says Shafeeq.

Many relatives of militants killed in the ongoing conflict have named some of their newborn babies in memory of the slain. When Burhan Wani was killed last year, a wave swept across the Valley to name the newborn babies Burhan.

In fact, there is a term for this phenomenon in Greek and is called necronym, literally translated as “death name,”. It refers to a name shared with a dead relation.

“In many instances, the bereaved parent is struggling with unresolved mourning. The parental couple has an internalised image of the child who has died and they ‘deposit’ this image of them ‘into the developing self-representation’ of the next-born child. In other words, the replacement child is a ‘reservoir’ where the mental images of the dead child, which cannot be let go of, can be kept alive for the family,” says Molly S. Castelloe, a psychoanayst, PscychologyToday.com.

Until the late nineteenth century, necronyms were common among Americans and Europeans.

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