Author: Saadut
•7:21 PM

The cold breeze brought with it the savory of spring. The pleasant chill that tingled my body reminded me of our red nosed childhood spring days that started with early tuitions walk. I remembered Mushtaq who was an early riser and took on himself to touch base with me every morning and rally me to our common tuitions. I looked forward to the tuitions for the interesting talk we used to have on the way, the mimic of the teacher while he looked up to these tuitions for their educational value. We went to different schools but then school time was the only time we were not seen together. He came from a humble background and had inherited no negativity of those times. I often wondered how he could manage so much all in a day: studying for himself, teaching at kid’s tuitions for that extra financial stability, managing time for friends and prostrating before God. My efforts and daily achievable were meager before his, I always found wanting more time, more hours in a day. Our fishing expeditions to the Dal lake would get him the best of catch, I was left waiting for the angle and often missing the nudge of the fish. I never heard a political statement from him, often wondering if at all he was acquainted with this word. Everybody has a loud political opinion in Kashmir and even if he had one it was sealed within him. His favorite fragrance was musk and it identified him from quite a distance.
As I walked into this calm and solitude, I could feel the same musk fragrance near to his resting place: these graveyards always look serene and composed the souls having left their pain and affliction behind them. In our worldly races we always fight for mundane glisten often chasing mirages and in reality never ever achieving tranquility. It is only after shedding the body attire that the soul achieves sooth. As I sat there next to his resting place, the sun split into a hundred silhouettes through the covering trees, the leaves stopped their rustling and I lay undisturbed near my friend. I closed my eyes and soon was lost into timelessness, transported into sense of extrasensory perception. Mushtaq had sent me a much awaited letter which I began to read out to myself.

Dear __
I am sorry for having left you unannounced but then it came to me suddenly like that. When they got me down, the books in my hand were scattered all over, I had incomplete notes from the Professor in the bag, wonder what happened to them. Your book by Munro was interesting, pity that I could not finish it. The new bag that Dad had bought for me got holes all over it: you see they shot me from the back as I was coming out of college. If I say I am not missing the days we had together I had been lying. I have to confess that, when ever you cheated in cricket, you thought I did not notice but I pretended that I knew nothing. You may laugh at this but it was me that G… used to pass those smiles at, but I again did not want to annoy you as you were happy thinking that it was you who she smiled at. When I came here, in the initial days I used to sit alone and look out in the infinite spaces around, but then I found company here. Most of the people here from Kashmir are in my or younger age group. Age and time never passed us in heaven by so we never feel wanting of moments. I think the Kashmiri diaspora here is growing rapidly and every year we get new and younger people here.
Of the recent friends who came from Kashmir, I met Samir an 8 year old boy who had a toffee in his mouth when he came here. A cute little boy he is: says he was suffocated and strangulated by spiked boots and demons in fatigues near his home. He misses school and often thinks of his mother. There is no dearth of fruit here and we offered him many but he is looking for a particular pear, which unfortunately he has still not found here. Seems he left that pear behind at his home. At times I see him playing with Millat Ahmed (also 8 year old) who also came from Kashmir around the same time. Millat was critically attacked while playing in a field near his home and later succumbed.
We have a sister from Kashmir here, Rafiqa who often tells us about her cute little three daughters. She was sitting home when her body was pierced by a bullet. She is often worried about her kids, they are too small to take own care. Ishrat the eldest one would worry too much when Rafiqa was home, wonder what they must be going thru now. Her eyes are often lost in thought of her kids. Sister Mubena Akhtar (30 years) who was shot in the abdomen often consoles her and they get along very well here. But often they sit together in silence, in all probability worrying about their families down below : about the tempestuousness that their folks may have been subject to.
10 year old Asif was studying in 5th class when they aimed the bullet at him. He remembers his parents pleading with the faces in fatigues to let him reach hospital, but they did not relent. His body gave away after much blood had been lost, his mothers hope giving way to agonizing despair.  He worries about his mother whose tears would not dry, cannot forget her cries that pierce him even after coming here. He misses her embrace, her hug. He had promised her to work hard in this class, often wonders how much of syllabi his friends have covered now. He is often seen with Irshad Ahmed (11 year old) who came here due to pellet injuries. They tell me these pellets are new guns used by the men in uniform. I earlier knew we could only get shot and killed by bullets, but seem times are changing there. The weapons may have changed but the target has not.
Fida Nabi of 20 years is a handsome young lad, could have been a model down there. He makes us all smile with his anecdotes, but at time he prefers to sit alone often thinking of his Nawabazar friends. In solicitude he talks of his mother and brother whom he loved very much. He was aimed at outside his home and says even his funeral was delayed. When he was there he always used to pray for those rested in EidGah finding solace in walking around the silence of these graves : watching the flowers and blossom of the toil of these sleeping children of my homeland, little did he know he would join them soon. His dreams were woven around his mother and her smiles, around the love bonds of his family. He often misses the lap of his mother where he would rest his head after a tired day. At times he walks alone in the garden here and we prefer not to disturb.
Our friend Fayaz Ahmed Wani 24 years, does not talk much. He is often lost in his thoughts, looks into an oblivion of flash backs. He was shot in a lane near his home. He often recalls of the desecration that his corpse was subject to and the abuse and humiliation his father faced while carrying the corpse. He idolizes his father who did not abandon son’s corpse when the uniformed men came charging at the funeral and committed sacrilege to it. Whenever we go for a stroll, he is sitting in the corner of this garden distinctly silentious. He often worries about the future of his family down below, down there he had been able to get a job after much difficulty and now that earning source for his family had evaporated with his leaving.
My friend Tufail is a wonderful lad. We often discuss a lot of things. He is very intelligent and seems to be interested in science subjects and keeps asking me questions about it. He would have made a wonderful professional out there, had it not been for the aim of that uniformed demon who hit him with his projectile on the head. On some occasions I see him walking silently in the other terraces of this garden: he misses his Dad. He was the only son of his parents and is really concerned about their loneliness. Sometimes I too join him in his walks and feel him conversing silently with his folks down below.  I have forgotten my own sorrow overwhelmed by the colossal pain of these humble souls.

Ahh I could have written more about my friends but seems I need to go back to them. See I have been here for quite long, they came here only recently and are occasionally still held up in the stillness of time, worrying about their folks down below, and their pain weighing on my friends here every time.

P:S Can the triggers controlling my homeland manage not to send any more of these kids here. How many of them can we console here and how many more of their tears will drown this place. Their coming here creates two voids ; one within us where we get drained out of soul energy listening to their heart piercing tales and the second  down there within their families who lose their world and are subject to unimaginable hopelessness and despair. We could all do without these voids.

Your friend

(This blog dedicated to my friend Mushtaq Ahmed Baba who was killed by  ITBP bullets many years back while coming out of his classes)

1st April 2011
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