Saturday, October 13, 2018

Brother from Kashmir

Guest post by Pratush Koul in which he remembers his brother from Kashmir

6th August 2013
Excelsior told us about you. How you left us and your mother all alone. She was bereaved the most. You were her only son and her sole reason to live. With you, gone were her materialistic attachments of the world. I can’t recall for how many days she stared at the door, waiting for you, waiting for her son. We were here at Jammu when we heard about you. It was past sunset, the news made us feel the dusk that day. Your memories were recalled, especially by dad, in front of whom you grew up. After this conversation, mom and dad went to sleep, but I was awake, haunted by the memories from 3 months ago when you last visited, the memories of Kashmir where we played cricket in your lawn and also by the fact that I’m never going to see my brother again, see my “Adil bhaiya” again.

2004
It was in summer - when I first traveled to Kashmir. The lakes, the green fields, and the mountains- they were all tempting. It was the 5th day of our visit I remember when we visited your home in Ompora. It was a simple, serene two storied house, I liked its appearance. When they went in the house, I got hold of my mom’s hand. My parents were greeted and were requested to sit on the “takhtposh” (A bed, short in height), When the Tea and Namkeen were being served, it was at that moment I saw you for the first time, from the crevice of the old door. You were called, and I remember you advancing towards my father and hugging him tightly, I was surprised. Then you hugged me. As we were sipping our tea you talked with my parents and I was at first startled by the fact that how were you able to talk in Kashmiri, it was believed by me that it was a special secret language. It was then explained to me after I was visibly alienated that your family and my parents had worked together in Kargil for 1-2 years. After talking with you for more than an hour, your mother asked you to take me for a stroll near the locality. My mom, being apprehensive, kindly denied as the atmosphere of Kashmir wasn’t good at that time, but after telling that Adil is with him and there is nothing to worry about, she agreed. I went with you, behind you, as you were leading the way across the lanes. We talked with each other, about weather, games, school and other things a 6 year old boy could think of. We were near a small shop and I remember meeting two of your friends. They greeted you but were looking differently at me. I could sense that something was amiss as when I moved my hand near them for a handshake, they ignored me. Then they asked you that who is this boy and where is he from. You told them that I was your brother. I glanced at you while the other two were surprised. Then I remembered one of them saying that he has a tilak on his forehead, how can he be your brother. I wasn’t able to understand that question but his tone changed dramatically after he pointed his finger on my forehead. I held your hand with my tiny fingers, sensing threat. Then you spoke”so what? He is my brother”. I felt safe after I heard these words and as I can recall, you shouted on him for scaring me and we left the place and headed straight home, on the way you told me that they were fools and don’t tell anyone about what happened. I said ok. At that day, I went out with a friend and came back with a brother.

As night started to pour in, my parents asked permission to leave as we had to head back to jawahar nagar, where we were staying. Your family tried all means to convince us for a night stay but the situation around that area was not welcoming. They allowed us to go on the condition that we come back as this visit wasn’t satisfactory. Mom and dad responded positively in unison. We headed back.

The next day, we came and had breakfast at your home. After a couple of hours as we were leaving, you started to argue with your mom that you wanted to join us. Dad said why not. So, as we leaved Ompora, with an extra accompany, we headed straight to Dal Lake. During the Shikara ride, I remember you being seated next to me, pointing at other shikara’s in the lake. As we reached the Char Chinaar Island, we clicked a lot of pictures, pictures of you posing in the white kurta pajama, pictures that were taken on houseboats, we hoped that we will only remember the time and events captured in these pictures, but when I see those pictures, I only see you, the person, the time and place seems irrelevant and blurred. After the ride, we headed to the revered shrine of Tulmul, in Ganderbal.

At that time, an auspicious day was celebrated. You joined us in the pooja and rituals and took the Prasad with us. At the end of the day, we went back to your home to drop you and the farewell was painfully difficult for me as you got all teary. We hugged each other and you said to me that we will meet soon. After bidding adieu to your family, we left.

January 2013

Months after grandpa passed away, I became quiet and didn’t talk much. One day, dad gets a call. It was from you. You wanted to visit us with some friends. My dad happily invited you and your friends and my mom prepared all kinds of food delicacies you enjoyed. Day after tomorrow, you arrived, with your three friends.

This time, as you entered the main door, I hugged you first. It was wonderful meeting you after 9 odd years. We talked a lot, about your college, my school, life back in Kashmir, your family etc. I talked with your friends also as dinner time approached. We relished on some of the finest Kashmiri delicacies and after you prayed your namaaz, we continued our talks from where we left from. It was a wonderful time, how your friends told me about your childhood menaces, how we enjoyed our previous visit and we also planned our next trip, a trip to the places we missed previously. After that we slept.

Next morning, I woke up late. I saw you pack your bags, I asked where we you going, my dad also joined. You replied that you have to leave for college. I wasn’t in the mood of letting you go. I insisted for another day, you politely declined. As you grabbed your bag and were about to leave, I asked “when will we meet next time? I didn’t even show you the pictures”. You replied”you will hear from me soon” and you left, just vanished from the main gate as I stood staring there for some time.

Present day

As I come across the old album, my eyes get all watery when it stares your face. It feels so different that I’m of the same age as yours when you left us. It feels so lonely. On that fateful day, I lost you to the deep waters of Harvan, a brother was lost that day. Looking back at our memories, I don’t see a skinny boy holding my hands while we walk through the dark lanes, I don’t see myself hiding away behind a boy when he taught some lunatics a lesson, I don’t see that shoulder on which I slept during travels, I don’t see those hands that taught me how to make shadow puppets but I see that brother for whom, age, distance and religion were no barriers. He was above them all. He stood for love and affection. Adil stood for the real Kashmiriyat. You will be remembered, you will be missed.


-0-

1 comment:

  1. A true writing from u Broda .
    I hope the culture returns soon.

    ReplyDelete

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