Tears of darkness: story of a pellet victim in paradise
In a jiffy, he threw away his school bag to a dimly lit corner of kitchen and joined his family for sipping Nun Chai—Kashmir’s traditional salted pink tea served both in morning and evening. While serving him the tea, Halima started to unfold her routine worries. He hurried and jumped out to join his ‘Masti’ brigade, comprising mostly of rough mohalla kids.
Shahid was full of energy, an intelligent student albeit less driven to studies, which discontented his parents. While his teachers too believed that he was the ‘chip of an intelligent block’, but the lack of passion in studies prevented him from working hard at home and he would end up scoring only a little more than average. His father Ali Mohammad was a class fourth employee working in a government department. An honest and a God fearing person, which earned him much repute in his office and the entire neighborhood too. But with his meager salary and costs whooping day after day, it was proving to be a mammoth task for him to run the wheels of his home. Besides Shahid, he had to fund education of his two other children: Iqra and Shaziya.
After the dusk prayers Ali Mohammad and his wife Halima would often engage in finding answers to a frequent whirlpool of household problems. They were ambitious of decorating their children with the brightest jewels of education. However, the very thought of their meager income would often sadden Halima, but his religiously driven husband had the nerves of steel. He would often unveil the pearls of Quran and lift her falling spirits.
On a regular day, Shahid left for school. He had promised Mohsin to accompany him to the market, who was eying for new mobile phone. Hailing from a rich family background Mohsin always enjoyed a plentiful pocket but he was sober from inside and always enjoyed mingling with Shahid. The market was abuzz as usual. While treading in a narrow by-lane, they stopped near a shop front and were about to take their way in but something caught Shahid’s eye from the left: a loaded vehicle parked in front of a nearby shop was being unloaded and two men were laboring the loaded sacks into a store, next to the shop. He got stunned and could not believe his eyes but the reality unveiled mercilessly before his eyes. Wide and open in total disbelief. Yes! he picked him right out of the two. Soon his feet ceased to move. Somehow he escaped himself from the eyes of his dad.
Shahid pretended of some important task at home. He left Mohsin and took lazy steps back to home. The images of his over-burdened father were continuously haunting his consciousness .Unable to make his ends meet, the model father had to do labour work in extra time. And the tragic secret unfolded of its own before Shahid, leaving him feel divorced. He reached home and locked the door quietly from inside. The images of his dad were refusing to fade away and continued to steal his rest. He rolled his fingers over his face and broke down. Moments later he heard the Mua’zen calling for evening prayers. No one scolded him to go to the mosque today, but he went for it whole heartedly and it amazed everyone.
Days converted into weeks and weeks into months and Shahid continued to undo his errors. A dissimilar boy now, who would spend most of his time with books to achieve his rendezvous that he had made to himself; on the same day that had brought a different sun for Shahid, a new ambition that promised to see his father free from the chains of labor was born in him.
A fertile mind was a natural gift for Shahid. And now his soul igniting dream would hardly let him sleep. He worked hard and prepared fully for the exams. He felt being rocketed into the skies the moment results were out. His consistent hard work and dedication had earned him the lead position in school and he was amongst the 20 state toppers. He was enthusiastic more because he could see joy waving across the face of his father. His father was happy to earn the fruits of his honesty and piety. It added a tonic to his teeming spirits to achieve better and better. At school, his teachers too inspired him for a shining future. Soon, his father got him admitted in a prestigious tution centre. He was sure of a bright tomorrow. However the success didn’t come alone. The sky high rates of tutions further worsened the over burdened shoulders of his father. But he was an artistic fighter. Ali Mohammad tore down his own expenses to the lowest possible but ensured an uninterrupted road for their children.
It was Friday. A post prayer protest call had been issued to commemorate the bloodied history of the paradise on earth. Curfewed days, dreadful silent nights, tear gas shelling, killing of innocent boys playing cricket etc. were the daily harsh realities that everybody in the valley had to live with. Though, born in a paradise but like the other ill-fated valleyites, he was forced to live in hell. After the congregational prayers, scattered battles between ‘Jawans’ and ‘Awaam’ had already started in various areas of the city.
The student footfall at the tuition centre was thin today, but he received classes and felt his day earned. As he ventured out he could easily sense the smell of smoke in air. He took his way back to home hurriedly. The market wore a deserted look and only a few pedestrians were walking on an otherwise crowded road. Occasional gunshots broke the uneasy calm. To avoid any possible mishap he switched to an interior city route. Suddenly, something reminded him of his mother. A worried Halima would always receive him near the entrance of home, whenever he was late. The road to home was getting longer today. From the past few moments his ears got used to the horror reverberating out of the gunshots but this time the music was dissimilar: a traumatic music that echoed from the jackboots of peac- keepers hitting the grey lanes as they ran madly. He got unnerved as the noise got louder and nearer. He hurried his trembling steps further. He reached near the entrance of a by lane, and a uniformed hunter appeared like a ghost, waiting at the very mouth of the lane. Shahid was like an innocent deer before a wild beast. He mouthed out a few abuses and pointed his gun towards a frightened Shahid and then……. all hell broke loose. Bullets rained from his gun, books fell apart and dreams got butchered, as Shahid fell down on the ground. He was withering in pain and his eyes were leaking blood, as the licensed non-lethal (so called) pellets fired in tens and hundreds had blasted his bubbling face and penetrated his eyes.
“Pellets have been fired from a short range and have pierced through his eyes. Unfortunately he has lost the vital gel through one eye on the spot and his other eye has been critically damaged. We will try our best to save it, rest lies with the GOD. Have patience please”, said the doctor to visibly frozen Ali Mohammad, who felt as if a Hydrogen bomb was dropped over his head. Hospital after hospital, both Ali and Halima, fought their luck, roaming from one state to other in search of an advanced treatment. The troubled family sold whatever it could to fund the treatment. Multiple Surgeries had already broken their back but the hope of a colorful world for Shahid kept them fighting all odds. Sun continued to rise after every dark night but he could never see the bright end to his dark tunnel.
His lifeless dark world seems to be melting him from inside. He craves out for his sun that seems to have sat forever deep within the waters of Dal. Lying on his bed, silent and reduced, he continues to confront an unanswered question, ”For what crime…?” He tries and fails and ends up receiving bouts of pain as doctors have warned against any stress. His days and nights, all alike continue to tear him with pain and darkness. Halima, an abandoned lady, whose tears seem to have dried centuries before, spends most of her time near that live grave. Like the dark tunnels of Shahid, a traumatic question too continues to loot her solace, ”Will he reconcile to the fate of darkness????”
Author is a Sopore based freelancer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.