ISLAMABAD, Oct 2: 'Love knows no boundaries'. This has been proven by the challenging marriage of former militant and mainstream Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik and Mushaal Mullick.
They not only live in separate countries but also belong to different lifestyles. “But the bonds of love are growing as we live apart,” she says.
“These challenges of life are the tests of our true love,” Mushaal said while talking to Dawn here, as her husband remained in custody in the Indian held Kashmir after the recent wave of unrest there.
Mushaal has adopted to like threats and dangers looming around her husband's life.
“At times it gets scary in Kashmir because Yasin travels without security and even drives himself,” she said. “But he always adores me and has repeatedly said the only happiness he has seen in life is me.”
Soon after the marriage, the couple planned to get away from the inhospitable atmosphere in Kashmir for some time and Yasin took her bride on honeymoon to seven prominent shrines in the held Kashmir.
“Chill ran through my spine whenever we came across the police and security personnel there but thank God nothing happened,” she said. “However, the marvellous experience I can never forget is the love and respect which I received from people at public places.”
Mushaal narrates the experiences of fear and love wherever she went in India and tells how people, especially women, used to caution her against various threats looming in Kashmir, including pressure tactics even among the Kashmiris, both Muslims and Hindus.
'True Love' is the only definition for the marriage between this couple belonging to totally different segments of society. While Yasin Malik is a short tempered, former militant-turned-political leader striving for freedom of Kashmir, Mushaaal is the youngest daughter of a prominent economist of Pakistan, Prof Dr Hussain Mullick.
She is an artist with specialisation in water colours and currently studying BSc (honours) and has lived all her life in Islamabad.
“I plan to stay here and complete my studies as it is not easy to continue education in Kashmir,” Mushaal said, adding: “Even now institutions there are closed for the last few months.”
After completing her studies, she plans to join the social welfare network of her husband's Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
“Her mother-in-law has said to me that Mushaal is educated and kind hearted and should head the social welfare setup,” her mother Rehana Hussain said.
Mushaal says there is great requirement for uplift work in Kashmir as life is bitter in practical terms there and people are suffering and need all kinds of support.
“Even my whole family is under severe stress nowadays, as a few weeks back one of Yasin's cousins was killed in a police firing,” Mushaal said, adding people there even need counselling.
Mushaal recalls the harsh lifestyle in Maisuma, the locality of her in-laws in Srinagar, where raids, curfews, arrests, protests and police firing are a routine matter. But at the same time, she is still treated as a new bride by the whole locality whenever she is in Srinagar.
However, she says her attachment with Kashmirs is increasing as the challenges grow and with rising stress in Kashmir her faith in spirituality and attention towards prayers has also become stronger.
To highlight the struggle and portray the soft side of Kashmir, she plans to hold an exhibition of her paintings in Srinagar, Delhi and Mumbai in late November.
“I have recently painted a lot about the beauty in Kashmir, including the people, and I am sure the exhibition will be a success in Delhi and Mumbai.”
The exhibition was scheduled to be held in October but was postponed due to the situation in Kashmir. She hopes that the next schedule will not be derailed; however, her in-laws fear for her safety.
“In January 2010, there was rumpus when Yasin came to speak at an international seminar in Delhi.” She recalled that a bunch of Kashmiri Pundits raised slogans against Yasin and even the security did not stop them.
“Ultimately, I rose and countered them by yelling at them to stop and let Yasin speak. Then many others also stood up and security was called in.”
“I also feel part of the struggle and we must keep in mind that the greater the cause the higher the hurdles,” Mushaal said and expressed the hope that the three parties - Pakistan, India and Kashmiris - would find a tangible solution to end the sufferings of the people.