Actor Sandeepa Dhar was simply two when her Kashmiri pandit household was compelled to go away their home in Kashmir on account of insurgency. So, returning to Kashmir after 30 years was an “emotional moment” for her, troublesome to seize in phrases.
“I don’t think anyone can really understand what displacement feels like — to leave behind everything that you own overnight, and for your life. My parents have started life from scratch, and they have worked really hard to bring us up,” she tells us.
Indeed, the journey has been extra poignant for her mother and father, who rebuilt their lives after the mass exodus. “For my parents, it’s far harder because I was really young when we left, but they have spent their entire lives here. For them, it’s a very emotional thing. But I feel like life comes full circle, and we are back here; it feels like we never really left. I’m very happy that we got to do this as a family, and we’ve had an amazing stay,” shares the actor, recognized for initiatives reminiscent of Heropanti, Cartel, Abhay, Mum Bhai amongst others.
The 34-year-old goes on to say that whereas she had been planning to go to Kashmir for thus a few years, the plan lastly labored out because it’s her mother and father’ anniversary. “So this time, I decided to give them this trip to Kashmir as their anniversary gift. I wanted them to be able to celebrate in Kashmir because this is where the journey had started,” she continues, “We’ve got cousins also who’ve come, because we used to live in a joint family in Kashmir. So all of us have come back to Kashmir. It’s a very emotional moment for us; we were all together now in Kashmir after 30 years. So that in itself is very emotional. I can’t even describe the feeling.”
This heartwarming reunion was a long-cherished dream that just lately got here true. Dhar additional reveals, “I suggested to my parents that what if we went back to Kashmir as a family because you’ve never done that, and they were on board. I wanted to experience Kashmir with them as well, because they’ve been such a huge part of our lives.”
Dhar’s childhood recollections of Kashmir are a mix of the reality she witnessed and images she cherishes. “I’ve seen Kashmir through a lot of truth to photographs. So now to see those and connect with those photographs in real life is so difficult to put in words. Talking about the changes she observed after coming back after 30 years, she tells us, “It was also very heartwarming to come back to normalcy, because for Kashmiri pundits, that word only didn’t exist in Srinagar. To see it’s normal now, to see tourism flourishing, people laughing, hanging out, and being part of that and sitting by the lake, and not fearing for our lives, I think that was definitely a gift,” she ends.