The school burned in front of my eyes as I stood, stunned and shocked, watching the edifice turn into ashes. The year was 1992 and militancy was at its peak in Kashmir, sweeping across the state like wild-fire. Hundreds of other schools had suffered the same fate and my school didn’t escape it either. The rolling juggernaut simply didn’t know how to distinguish.
 
It all started in the year 1989. A chain of events commencing in the year meant that the paradise on earth was going to lose its status quo. Militancy began in the valley with a massive recruitment drive and to sustain it, a sinister strategy was adopted; deprive the youth of education and coax them into the fold of militancy by brain washing and indoctrination. Consequently, schools became a natural target for the militant movement. Further, a drive was launched against the religious minority. Hundreds of families were forced to migrate and their homes burnt. Under such atmosphere, very few had the nerve and grit to stay on. One such family was mine.
 
Suddenly, my whole world transformed as I found myself in an alien world; a world where I was no more welcome. Growing up in an atmosphere dominated by bullying, segregation and threat of gun eventually took its toll; by 10th grade I developed a heart condition- severe cardiac arrhythmia.
 
Amidst all this doom and gloom, there were two people who kept me going. The first was my school principal, who showed exemplary grit and determination in holding out against all odds. In spite of all the threats to his life, he not only rebuilt the school, but over the years has also managed to pull out hundreds of youth from the quagmire of militancy. Today, he stands as a beacon of hope for the valley and a source of inspiration to me.
 
The other was my chemistry teacher, Mir Bashir, who transformed my perspective not only towards the subject, but also towards life. Cutting across all religious barriers, he was able to delve deep into my mental psyche. Chemistry which used to be a nightmare became a song; bitterness which had made the heart its abode transformed into love and compassion. It was then that I realized the true meaning of a teacher and the power at his disposal to transform lives.
 
With rekindled determination to live and discover life, I embarked on a search for a panacea and eventually discovered it in a book: The Water of Life by J.W. Armstrong. I decided to adopt the therapy mentioned in the book and ever since I have been drinking my own urine regularly with incredible results; not only has it cured me of my ailment, but also freed my mind of one of the most dreadful of all fears – fear of disease.
 
As I stand today, I owe my identity to my experiences and struggles in Kashmir. These have taught me how to face and stand up to any challenge in life. In hindsight, I realize that it is merely the Divine that works through us in miraculous ways, and many a times, His plans pan out in ways which our myopic vision cannot fathom. I do wish, however, that the Divine bestows us all with the strength to face the current pandemic. We need it more than ever to bring the juggernaut to a halt.  

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