Chapter Two

GOING SOLO

Indian-held Kashmir

A flock of birds circled above like paper butterflies. The smell of the place was a combination of wood, apples, and morning rain. The young woman I called Sadia led the protest with one arm swinging through the air, her voice loud and brassy like the sound of a solo trumpet. “We want freedom!” she shouted. The women looked like an undefeated army; their chants filled the tepid air. In sharp tones, they chanted: “What do we want? Azaadi! What do we need? Azaadi! What are we fighting for? We want freedom! Kashmir belongs to us!”

I closed my eyes and felt their thundering voices. Their desire for freedom was reasonable. The women needed to be heard by the battalion of Indian police waving their batons. ...

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