WHILE THEY KILL US IN UNISON, WE RESIST IN PARTS

All this while as I write there is only one scene flashing across my head, a clean shaved young Turk probably in his mid thirties spreading himself in front of a speeding armored tank; against an attempted coup d’état.  Although, I keep asking my subconscious; why? Why isn’t it mutilated face & ruptured eyes of 14 yr old Insha Malik.  Why isn’t it Sameer Rasool? My dear junior in school and son of a wealthy banker who left his luxurious life to join armed rebels, only to get his brains spilled a month later in an orchard just few miles from his home.

I keep seeking, why? Why such vague impression of otherwise brutal 2016? Not that I expected a solution to all of our problems but I also didn’t expect such obstructive rise of cynicism and hopelessness, most worryingly within our prominent sections of writers and bloggers.

I didn’t expect to see a dear friend’s post shamelessly comparing SAS Geelani Sahab with Shri Narendra Modi for the former’s extreme, stubborn and uncompromising views and going as far as blaming him for being an impediment to K solution (I shall use my right to remain silent on this part).

I see another politically proactive friend standing in support of youth taking part in an army recruitment drive, perhaps he didn’t imagine the holy army roping young Kashmiri (voter) to the bonnet of their jeep or  more precisely he was simply picking sides in the garb of standing for poor youth. Not that it bothers but just trying to shed light on the discourse few of us are trying to set when 2016 is still fresh.

While enemy in unison from celebrities to soldiers openly exhort and cherish culling of Kashmiris (voters included) because they couldn’t see their daalih batti jawans being pushed and heckled, few of our high thinking fellows still need a reason to rise.

Some of us question even the basic essence of protests; while some do it as a part of genuine opinion formation most others do it to cover their otherwise moral debauchery. The other side may kill and blind, arrest people, hold ambulances carrying dead bodies, beat college students, shoot kids point blank, no worries, and their actions are hardly discussed. They don’t need pretexts to shoot at protesters anymore; we have simplified it for them. “After all what is their point of protest?”, as my friends argue.

For our deep thinkers it is the “point of protest” that is worth a debate not the force and viciousness with which the protests are and have been crushed.

A discourse is being set partly out of hypocrisy and partly out of hopelessness where almost every form of protest is being disapproved. Not only do protest calls and strike calendars invite strong ridicule even poll boycott is excluded as an option. Then I wonder what people are left with even when jeering at men in uniform invites a volley of bullets your way, personally being a witness to it.

The whole exercise on the other side is to render us hopeless to the point where we stop to even think about rising. We are not only serving their ultimate objectives but essentially reinforcing their governing version where a victim is blamed for coming in the way of bullet rather than the other way round.

As a result any excesses inflicted upon the protesters get lost in the debates over ‘relevance and point of protests’. Not only do we fail to create an effective deterrence but we also lose the moral leverage against the steady and horrific abuse that we are being constantly subjected to weakening our case locally as well as internationally.

Now coming back to Turkey, where last summer almost more than four hundred people died in a matter of few hours as the military coup was being executed but it was for the exemplary resistance and courage shown by people that the democracy prevailed. Assuming the putsch had succeeded; by our standards all four hundred deaths shall be labeled as squander and blamed upon Erdogan for exhorting people to come out in protest. Protesters shall be blamed for getting themselves killed by impeding the way of marching tanks and the entire of them judged to be deserving of death for there was “no point” in rising against an army takeover. Period!

Tailpiece: Revolts and uprisings don’t last forever, neither do all of them succeed in their objectives; what matters is the impression and impact the “conscious class” wants to create post these uprisings and that is where we need to introspect. While they kill us in unison we rise in parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REALIGNING DEBATES

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Intifada

All these months since the uprising began I was waiting for this chapter; it was all about how long and when? When Editorials and newspaper columns would be filled with eloquent point by point censure & disapproval of Resistances’ modus operandi   than about injustice and oppression carried out by the forces prior to this chapter. When clamor over hardships thrown by uprising would be greater than the adversities inflicted by security forces. When writers and columnists would surprisingly show their scholarly prowess in dispiriting and demonizing the character and objectives of uprising while choosing to ignore the ferocity and vicious means adopted by counter forces to crush the same.

Failure or defeat is not in subdued protests or for that matter substantial traffic on roads; when focus shifts from atrocities and repression unleashed upon us in the recent months to debates and discussions over validness and relevance of current protests is when they know they have succeeded.
Failure is blowing out our own susceptibility and human limitation to suffering while failing/avoiding to highlight the abuses that we have been subjected to for past three months and before that.

When night raids and crackdowns, thousands of arrests, media and newspaper bans, communication restrictions and internet shutdown in an age of “Digital India”, and other such countless miseries are made to seem normal to us while we cockfight over relevance of strikes and protest calendar.

We are playing into their hands when instead of scripting and spreading how callously the current uprising was suppressed from night raids to burning of paddy crops, from destroying transformers to sometimes scrapping access to cable TV; most of us from students to academics, from a street vendor to university scholars everyone would talk of there being an “alternative” but the fact is that all have shamelessly failed, even the best and the brightest, and failed miserably over the last two and a half decades particularly since 2008 in presenting anything even near to an alternative.

I needn’t go deep into 2008 & 2010 or for that matter what have we done over these twenty seven years of turmoil; the state of our affairs is represented by   the fact that we haven’t been able to even keep count of our dead ones killed in last three months; every media agency and newspaper provides its own figures of death toll, let alone doing anything meaningful like getting justice or holding people responsible.

Political uprisings or unrests as some may put them, will come and go, as have been in past hither and in other parts of world but what matters is the follow up and the impact you want to leave post these uprisings. Unfortunately here in this part of the world our intellectual class including some figures from Resistance are about to be pushed into a quagmire of mudslinging and blame game over what should have been done and what not.

A weak leadership and flawed strategy may be reality to some but blowing it out while completely forgetting, almost like exonerating the details of tactics and methods used by other side to crush the uprising is a fact we need to ponder over.

We have been subconsciously, some, cunningly digressing from the violations that are being committed with such impunity; and our insignificant reaction to it, in an era, when the perpetrator is lobbying for a permanent UNSC seat on account of its human rights record and vibrant democracy, puts a question mark on our determination and standards of accountability and justice.

Tailpiece: Failure is when tyranny of “Eid-e-Curfew” and case of blinded pellet victims gets lost in the din of debates over “giving-up” and “going-on”.

An Ode from Oaks

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••Jo tamanna thee ki na ho hum juda // Bande mar gaye jabse sanam hogaye khuda

••Yuu sada dayim rahe shab-e-sangam // Koi ho Qasid Jo bayaa kare mera mud’da

*Shab-e-sangam = Night of Union
*Qasid = Messenger
*mud’da = Matter

••Ha’ye shab-e-hijr mei b jo teri yaad se gafil rahe // Tere noor ki sha’a se kyu na moat b ho zinda.

*sha’a = Ray of Light
*shab-e-hijr = Night of Separation

••Tera he jamaal numa hai gul o gulab mei // Kuch kaliyoo k shabab mei kuch meh’tab mei raha

••Kyu na teri shiddat-e-arizu se aasman b ho reza // Ki ba’ad-e-qatal mera qatil khafa khafa sa raha

••Raat rawa thee aur sehar ka naam nahi // Wasal ki ye shaam nhi arsh se aayi nida

••Wo isharoo ka kehna phir zuban ka mukkarna // Hum b hai, yaadei b hai, par wo waada na raha

••Rawa rawa sa yaha yaadoo ka kaarwa b hai // Bas ik hamara sath tha jo qayim na raha

••Ik muhibb-e-deen hai, ik muhibb-e-shahaw // Gowhar ko hasil-e-*irfan hua, Irfan *gowhar hua.

**Gowhar = Name
*gowhar= Gem
**Irfan= Name
*irfan= Spiritual Insight

AND JEHLUM SPAKE

FURYI have been serving this valley, you call Kashmir in honor of one of its reshis, for my existence; rather I am its existence. Forever I have thrived your lands, enriched your paddy fields that produced one of the finest rice qualities on earth, flourished its fruit orchards that changed your fortunes; ornate its plains with tulips and lilies, and don’t you see how I spread green carpet over naked ravines and meadows to draw thousands of outsiders to benefit you.
I augment your popular lakes and springs that your ancestors were so proud and grateful for. The springs that squeezed out brooks of honey carrying water of life, of cure to heal your ailments and by the kindness of our lord too holy to ease you off any spiritual crisis.
But this September I was tasked with something different; every stream that joined me; every rivulet that connected me and every droplet of rain that filled me carried a different command, command of fury, of deluge, of catastrophe and more essentially of lesson.
With every drop of rain came messengers; messengers of destruction and messengers of mercy. I was being filled with mud and slush from mountains and hills, I could feel being discolored from charming greenish to grubby brown, I could see my waters tearing earth and uprooting trees, I could hear myself flowing through and over ripened paddy fields amid wails and cries of farmers who had worked throughout the year for their crop. I could imagine the agony of cattle; when their helpless cries would disappear into silence as I would gradually sink their sheds, choke their guts and then wash away their bloated carcasses.
I was designed to overflow banks, rupture safety bunds and burst through walls into lanes and by lanes, to inundate every dry space around you, to cordon you and seep high into your rooms to terrify you, to blemish your belongings from exclusive carpets of lavish Rajbhag bungalows to archaic grass cut rugs of South Kashmir hamlets.
I was commanded to discount the faces of terrified kids who saw my filthy waters mutilating their cozy abodes; ignore the prayers of horror-struck elders who were overwhelmed to see me, surely the depth of my flow was unprecedented and unmatched in any of their accounts; and ordered to disregard the plea of women who beseeched their lord to hold my waters, to impede my march; march of ruin and devastation.
I was directed not to pity helpless people screaming at unkind sky from their roof tops, crying for reprieve and mercy. I overlooked the misery of men carrying women on their backs, youth lifting elders on their shoulders, and anxious mothers holding their dear infants tightly against their chests as they wade through my frigid waters.
I was unmoved by the courage of those men who rowed their makeshift arks tirelessly for miles to salvage their stranded brethren and sisters.
I was unyielding to the dead floating bodies, one of them of an infant who just dropped from his mother’s lap as she was about to sit in a rescue boat. I stood cold to the suffering of that expecting mother who gave birth to a dead baby in a boat as I interrupted her way to maternity hospital.
As always there was no discrimination, not religious not social; my waters burst into every place irrespective of their sanctity, be them prayer halls of mosques or revered shrines, ancient temples or churches. Such was lord’s fury that even the weight of floating Holy Qurans couldn’t hold the deluge.
I do realize that I paralyzed you, ruined your trade hubs, turned charming markets into stinking ghost yards, disengaged the loved ones from each other, pushed you out of your lavish houses, pityingly left you homeless just on the eve of Eid, and then washed away all of your belongings including your pride.
Not many among you would dare to complain about the severity of my course because you do recognize that this is what your actions warranted but those self appointed righteous ones among you who would shamelessly feign to be asking why?
Your priests and Ulemas, who were supposed to hold you together have turned you against each other and set this dear Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh) into different factions. Shouldn’t it be a cause of God’s wrath that religious scholars and their institutions that are meant to correct social evils have forsaken their priorities and rather become subservient to their personal egos and interests? The pulpits of your Masajids that ought to be springs of love and harmony; and what should have been symbols of your oneness have become sources of propaganda and animosity. Sermons of peace and truth have become sermons of tarnish and revulsion.
You, the believers of Islam, queue outside vintner stores like thirsty beasts. Your young liberals who are supposed to be followers of Prophet(pbuh) and should have been promulgating the divine tradition instead glorify obscenity and indecency in the name of art and freedom. Those Muslim men and women, the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, who ought to be torchbearers of “HAYA” have turned public parks into open brothels. And shouldn’t it be a matter of shame for you that coaching centers, colleges and universities that are supposed to be source of civility have become centers of vulgarity.
And then not to take the eyes off your hypocrite “Kashmiriyat”; come this election and you will shamelessly wave your inked fingers outside polling booths
May be from now on whenever you pass across the historic Zaina Kadal you will look down upon my waters with scorn and hatred but I would never be sorry for what you truly deserved and was brought to you by the lord of this universe through me.
This September every drop of water that filled me was designed and programmed to lesson you, to reprimand you and to remind you of the day that was promised to you by your lord and His Messenger.
Indeed, be grateful to your Lord that His kindness exceeds His anger and that He finally spared you but if you don’t learn what the Jhelum was supposed to teach you then indeed another show of God’s wrath is awaiting the divine orders.
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H E R O E S OF RESISTANCE

It has been seventeen years since that autumn day of October, yet the time seems ridiculously less enough to release the pain left over by the events of that day. Friday, considered most auspicious day of the week in our belief, is rather perceived different by my frail old aunt who would always caution us on this day throughout the turbulent uprisings of 2008 and 2010. Her face bears remarkable lines of pain and agony. Her every wrinkle has a tale to tell that of torment, of grief and misery, of anger and anguish, and of despair and disappointment.

The cause lies in the events of an autumn Friday of 1993, when the leaves of numerous Chinar trees of this small town had started to pale. However, that October the paling leaves had something more to declare than just the arrival of harsh winter.

Yaqbal” as she used to call her elder son without caring for the actual phonetics of the name Iqbal, perhaps inspired from one of our great poets, was one of the many youth of this Goerwan locality; energetic, full of passion and emotions. That Friday had been an eighth day of siege of the most revered shrine of this valley, Hazratbal, and like thousands others of the town his passion and love for the cause was too strong to keep him home. Ignoring every warning of the fading colours and dwindling leaves around him he joined the roaring crowds responding to every slogan with raised arms and stretched throat as if he knew the winds of his beloved homeland were carrying his impressions for the last time.

As the demonstration proceeded to culminate at the main road that divides the town, Iqbal like his other town mates was dazed to see the crowd of tens of thousands surrounded by the guardians of self-proclaimed largest democracy of the world; whose faces heralded the profane plans in their heads. The intentions of the men in uniform were clear, and what followed was the ten minute spectacle of “No Mercy”.

Friday, 22 October 1993, Yaqbal rather Iqbal the fifteen years old blossoming son ceased to be in flesh and blood. That year the winter was going to be too long and too harsh for my aunt. The ‘Humans’ of Indian democracy had successfully shot him in the head and of indiscriminate firing there were hundreds of Iqbals lying beside one another, each helpless and abandoned. Some shot in the chest, some in the temple and some fortunate ones got hit below abdomen. Wounded Iqbal could smell the perfume of his blood and his mates around him. The winds did their last service to Iqbal carrying this fragrance to the restless mother, who wanted to disbelieve her intuition till the last moment but the inevitable was just about. Like numerous around him Iqbal’s gradually turning cold body was yearning for the warmth of his mother’s lap but “the humans” of Indian democracy were too human to disallow any kind of service to the desperate bullet hit bodies which lay like rubbish on the main road. They fired at anyone who rose for help.

Iqbal along with many others of the town most of them his friends and school mates breathed his last on the road just hundred odd metres from the arms of his mother, leaving her devastated and to despair. Some others died in three-wheeler carts that were used to carry them to the nearby hospital and some died on the hospital beds. The pre-winter storm had swept across entire Bijbehara, more than forty killed and countless were injured in an action executed within some minutes by the services of Indian democracy.

Although many among those killed were younger than fifteen, the other forty Bijbeharites shot dead that day didn’t matter to my aunt but her “Yaqbal”, who had been snatched of his about to begin youth. At first she would look at the shocked face of  Iqbal’s father and another moment feel the tender shoulders of her eight year old younger son, Rashid, obviously too low and feeble to support the coffin of his slain brother. Iqbal’s father, shocked to face the death of his son lost his stability and soon drowned into serious illness. The burden of ill husband was taking a heavy toll on this lady who was yet to recover from the earlier loss.

Few years later, after lingering illness the husband succumbed. Although for this grief-stricken lady looking after the ill companion single-handedly had been extremely challenging and exhausting, the death devastated her downright to the depths of her miserable soul.

After son the husband had left too. She would again look at the still tender shoulders of her younger son but then the bare hands of her four daughters also caught her sight, one of whom had been acutely affected by two successive untimely deaths. Four sisters who were snatched with their all hopes wailed again and again over the unkind winters which had arrived with Iqbal’s departure. With his death had descended a chain of miseries and woes upon this mother and her family, who had lost both son and husband in a gap of few years. The thought of her four daughters and younger Rashid would swell her pain multiple times with each passing moment. The accumulating grief would eat her from inside out. I afraid the unforgiving winters had dragged unto perpetuity for this crushed mother.

The ceaseless winters had entirely desolated and destroyed her part of world. Yet it couldn’t keep her to discharge the unfulfilled responsibilities of her deceased husband and elder son. Braving all the viciousness of this dreadful winter which set in with that ill-starred Friday, she managed to provide her all daughters with happy matrimonial lives and got her younger son in a well-established business, obviously not without having to face the toughest adversities life can throw at you.

Her son died once but this mother has been living death each moment and each day for the last nineteen years. The events of that day qualify Iqbal and his forty comrades into martyrs but how shall we define the death of this mother who dies countless times, whenever, reminiscence of Iqbal strikes her, whenever she imagines him in his youth. She lives equal to death whenever she misses her husband, whenever she wishes someone to scold Rashid for his mischiefs, whenever she imagines the burden on the shoulders of Rashid who had to support painful responsibilities at such a tender age, while as her elder son died before youth, Rashid didn’t live his youth. And this mother dies whenever she senses the hopelessness and gloom in her daughters.

The winters which set in her life on Friday, 22 October 1993 definitely lasted eternally for this lady including all Bijbeharites who lost their loved ones to that day, and I am sure mother of every other Iqbal, at least forty of them who lay with “Yaqbal” that day on the road has a similar tale to tell, some even worse.

NOTE: Based on true story

ZEHRA: THE VIRGIN MOTHER

I was posted here about nine months ago as a helper with the gynecologist at this primary health centre, located in the heart of old city. All thanks to my Abu who moved from pillar to post, from bureaucrats to politicians and spent every little penny to get me this fourth class job as a nurse in the city’s health department. As a science graduate this is all I could have got after I had refused to pursue any higher studies.
Mrs. Razia Farhat, the only lady doctor at this health centre and an AIIMS alumnus was certainly one of the most skilled and efficient lady doctors our staff knew.
She had earned great repute and reliability between the woman folk of this area because of which most of the expecting mothers, who would otherwise visit other major hospitals or private clinics of the city, would put their trust in her. We carried one to two delivery cases each week at this health center.
For first few births it had been very difficult for me; the sight and the shrieks of the blood-spattered infants would horror me but then thanks to Mrs. Farhat who not only made me feel calm and proud at what we did but made me fall in love with what she and I did together.
My time at this health center altered my personality inside out. I was enjoying my transformation; I loved this job and place though most of my colleagues didn’t. I would become personally absorbed to each case and patient that came to us and had altogether become a different person.
Strange and equally intense emotions had grown within me; it was like I could sense some holiness in the painful whimpers of a mother who would go through excruciating pain in her effort to push out the baby, and then amazingly all her misery would vanish in an instant, all absorbed in the wild cry of the tiny infant; who for the rest of his/her existence would surely remain oblivious and ignorant to the twinge that completed their arrival.
Each sky tearing cry of an expecting mother would give me the feel of her greatness and reverence. I believed every scream had the power of washing off her sins and by the end of it she was the purest individual on earth.
The process of giving birth to a new life was something that made me so proud and enthusiastic about motherliness and I saw it as the single most blessing of being a woman. I would go through remarkable sensations as I would witness a mother holding her baby and the little angel sucking her nipples.
We were sent into this world with whatever purpose but we aren’t going to leave it without giving it back what it gave to us and that was “Life”. The best way of paying our gratitude to this world and to the Lord of this world, before we were to depart, was to bring a new life to it and that is what motherhood symbolized to me.
Mehak was a local patient who had been seeing Mrs. Farhat since her third month of pregnancy. Her parents’ home fell in the vicinity of the health centre and her mother had insisted upon her uptown in-laws to let Mrs. Farhat take care of her, although they actually wanted her to see a private clinic. For reasons unknown to both of us, Mehak and I developed a good bond with each other. We would call or see each other whenever time allowed and the patient-nurse association had turned into more of a friendship bond.
She was exceptionally humble and noble hearted, and equally young and beautiful; and her bulged abdomen added strange sacredness to her prettiness. She was a bride of eleven months and it was her first child, so I would share my thoughts with her about the joy and delight of motherhood and more importantly the sacredness of it. I would regularly call her to enquire about her and her baby’s condition and give my best possible feeds for better health of the two.
It was a cold autumn night; the blazing crescent and thousands of brilliant stars hung magnificently across the cheek of the clear sky. The cold autumn gusts would almost penetrate the chill into the body tissues and carried with them the stern warning of coming winter. I was sitting up beside Mehak who complained of pain in her abdomen. Mrs. Farhat said that she was expecting the baby anytime post midnight, so I was gently caressing her hands and trying to prepare her psychologically for the delivery. Mehak’s younger sister entered the room telling about the arrival of her husband and her mother-in-law.
As we were moving out of the room, she pointed me towards a young boy.
“This is Umar baisaeib! Didi’s husband and that lady is her mother in law”.
As I looked keenly at the young boy, rather man, it was indeed Umar…… my Umar.
My feet shuddered, limbs trembled, head spun and eyes turned hazy; making it difficult for me to stand still, it was as if I was about to collapse onto the marble floor. I somehow, crawling by the wall made it to sisters’ room. Although it was the distance of only few strides, it was the longest and the most tedious walk of my life. Still finding it hard to breathe, I took some water that momentarily restored my sanity and the moment I began to think over what had occurred few minutes earlier was the most nerve-racking and agonizing of my entire being; it virtually ripped me apart.
The huge adrenalin burst wanted me to demolish everything around; I wanted to yell at the walls of room and tear them down with the intensity of my pain; I wanted to scream at the shining sky whose glittering and beautiful stars that I loved so much seemed to be mocking at me. I wanted to smash my head and let my blood spoil the entire ceramic floor; that night my helplessness wanted me to die and let my spirit haunt the entire human race for eternity.
After laying there unconscious for about an hour or so, someone knocked at my door,
“Zehra! It is time, Mrs. Farhat is looking for you”.
I somehow helped myself up, dressed my hair and put on the white coat. Mrs. Farhat looked at my swollen eyes in awe and surprise.
“Zehra! Is everything alright with you?”
I answered in affirmative, “just bit tired I guess!”
As I came near Mehak, who by now was screaming in full labor pain; I stood like a cold stone staring at the monster resting in her womb. I wanted to kick and thrust a blunt knife into her womb and get rid of the beastly baby before seeing the light of life. I wanted to choke Mehak, whose irritating shrieks were aching me.
Mrs. Farhat noticing my anxiety relieved me off the labor room and I waited for an entire hour just outside the door, subconsciously thinking whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, would it resemble Umar or would it more look like beautiful Mehak; and then suddenly I would be reminded of my past and my curiosity for the baby would manifest into hatred and revulsion and I would begin to think for my ways of vengeance.
I would kill the mother and then run away with the baby. May be I was to kill the baby and inflict them with pain for lifetime. No I would kill Mehak, make it look like an accidental death and implicate Mrs. Farhat in it; then persuade Umar to marry me.
Believe me, it was tormenting and painful out there to think about Umar fathering some other’s baby. In the meantime I heard the heart wrenching cry of the little infant. I rushed inside,
“It is a boy”
He arrived around 12:35 am.
It was one of the most beautiful sights for me in the whole universe. I took the baby in my arms and went into the side room; and suddenly all the hatred and vengeance had disappeared. I hugged him and tightly held him onto my chest.
I felt a strange sensation in my breasts as if it were filling with milk ready to suckle the infant angel. I put off my coat, pulled over my top, and put the nipple in baby’s mouth at which he began to cry. With tears rolling down my cheek, out of helplessness and obsession, I rubbed and squeezed my breasts and again fed the nipple into baby’s mouth but my little angel was still crying. I hugged him and kissed his tiny lips for one last time and ran towards my room.
That night no life was added to the planet, rather a new life was replacing an old one.
Source: Zehra’s Notebook
Next morning Zehra was found dead in her room; an autopsy showed that she had died due to overdose of sleeping pills. It was later revealed that Umar and Zehra had been in an intense relationship for about nine years since their school days. Umar, himself a bachelor of law had prevailed upon her to leave studies after graduation and both were to get married next year. However, Umar’s parents were against their union and forced him to marry another girl. Zehra suffered depression for about seven months and though she was a brilliant student with good grades, she couldn’t pursue further studies. Then her father somehow managed to get her a fourth class job in the health department.

Note: This is a pure work of imagination.HOLY BABY

THE FINAL HUG

ImageEverything around me vanished; time ceased, blood rushed to my cheeks and an intense shiver swept through my spine, as I spotted the twelve digits flashing across my cell phone screen. I had recognized the digits at once but to make myself entirely sure of what had occurred I went through the digits and my call log again and again.

Yes, it was her contact number; we hadn’t talked for more than a year now and suddenly seeing my cell phone screen buzzing with her incoming call had sent an adrenalin spurt across my body, flushed my skin, and dazed my wits.

Everything around me had fallen into hush although I was in the noisiest part of the market and my phone’s weird ringtone was playing at its loudest. For a moment my brain had stopped working until the dinging ringtone of my cell phone disappeared into silence, as I hadn’t been able to decide whether to pick or not.

“Did it happen accidently?  Was it her? Did some other use her cell phone to call me? How could and Why would she call me?” I was gripped by different such queries and thoughts within. I slowly began to move away from market; and suddenly the memoirs of our last conversation struck me, obviously, that was bitter and even a mere recall of that disturbed me.

We had promised to ourselves of not calling each other ever, now since she had; it had left me in a stagger. I was still deciding whether to call back or not, she called again.

“Asalamu-alaikum! Omar! It is me Ambreen”, she had always felt shy about greeting me, don’t know how she managed it that time. I recognized her at once, her slender voice and the delightful dialect of her accent, as always, pierced me to the depths of my soul; but no! Those days were gone and I was just talking to an ordinary girl.

By now I had moved beyond the crowded place and climbed to my favorite hill spot. I asked for courage and calm from every corner of my body and soul and heavily returned the greetings.

 After some deep and long sighs, she began to ask me about my well being, my studies and my ongoing degree, just to initiate the conversation I guess, otherwise she knew asking me about my studies was like inviting trouble. I politely replied to everything, but still hadn’t been able to ask her about this unfamiliar call.

She paused and then began to sigh even more heavily, I waited some thirty seconds and sensing her nervousness I spoke, bit out of involuntary sympathy,

Amby!  Relax! What is the matter?”, realizing it only a moment later that I should have been bit formal and used full name to address her as I didn’t want to demonstrate any hint of old feelings for her and I certainly didn’t have any.

“Omar! I am getting married next month”, I already knew it but her reminder tore me like a blunt knife.

“Ambreen! I know and no need to remind me of it”, I replied firmly, “And what has it got to do with me?”

“I don’t want you to come to my marriage” she was sobbing now, “not at all and please make it possible that we don’t face each other for at least a year, after I am married to Aamir”.

For last six months since her marriage was announced I had been thinking about it; I was determined to attend her marriage to end any rumors about us and more importantly to project a stronger character of myself. I had even decided the clothes that I was to put on her wedding and had even practiced the expressions that I was to pretend that day.

I remembered that midnight, when I was almost asleep as it used to be during most part of our late night conversations and then she would wake me up with a sudden shriek; during one of those moments she had once asked me if I would attend her marriage. I don’t know what I had said to her then in that half dead state but today she hadn’t asked rather insisted me to stay away from her wedding.

“Okay! Maam, as you wish, and please calm yourself”, I was uninvited to her wedding though my entire family was supposed to be there for whole three days.

“Thankyou! Umee”, and now bit relaxed, “So are you seeing any one right now?”

“No, not yet…none is good enough to replace you”

“Are you still flirting me? Ummee!I am getting married next month. I know you are seeing someone and as always you will keep denying it because you find pleasure in love being secret. Isn’t it? ”

“May be, you are right”,

 I was quietly listening to her as she kept on,

Omar! I have always found it difficult to reconcile with reality since our inevitable separation. But such an intense and shameful yet beautiful relationship never deserved to be ended the way you did.

Apart from our last bitter conversation, today I am calling you to thank you for all the beautiful memories you ever produced me, for all those intense and passionate moments we spent with each other, for your every sweet word and touch, for your flattering,……. and even your anger was adorable.”

I hadn’t uttered a word yet, listening to her cautiously and sharply irrespective of what she spoke, with an objective of feeling her every blow of air without the slightest disruptions; as I knew it was most probably our last conversation.

I was relishing her every sound and as always drowned in her hypnotic dialect; with her every breath she would hark back the sweetness of yore days that I had grown so used to and missed for all these months. I was more interested in her voice and her deep and warm breaths rather than in her words or their meanings.

It was like turning back the clock and then sudden distraction woke me up from my momentary trance; she had been parroting about our yester memories for about two and a half minutes; then sensing my stillness and silence Ambreen broke instantly,

Ummeee!     Kyoha’zi   (What)?”

In a somewhat joint state of daze and consciousness, I replied back,

Amby! You know what? Next month you will be defiled forever”

She paused for few seconds and then fell apart instantly. Her shrieks and sobs became more prominent now. She was crying like I had never heard her. I could do nothing but listen and listen mutely without even trying to console her.

For all our times we had talked of purity, “Purity of Soul and Body” and now that was about to end. We weren’t worth each other and the fact that we had lost each other perpetually was ripping us down to the depths of our existence. We had allowed our bodies and souls be spoiled by fakers and liars around us. The only difference was that she had been compelled to and I had done it by choice.

“Omar!”, in an almost crushed voice.

“Kihay! (Go on)”

“Next Thursday I am to visit Makhdoom Sahab shrine with my grandmother”, still howling and hardly aware of what she was speaking,

“Mei chu fairan (I miss you).We can’t talk but I want to see you for one last time.

Wankeh! (Please)”

I scrapped the phone as a tiny tear drop rolled down my left cheek.

                                                THE END

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