‘ Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive’. (convert to Islam, leave the place or perish)
‘Ralive, Tsalive ya Galive’.
Everywhere, these words are echoing. Every ticking of the biggest wooden wall clock is making him to shiver.
“They are coming. Nobody is going to save us. They are coming to kill us”, a woman is crying.
Everything was drowning inside a pool of blood. People are laughing harrowingly. He feels a steel touch on his back side of neck. It is piercing inside. It is going deep.
‘Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.’
In every middle of the night, he woke up after experiencing this nightmare. He didn’t forget a single thing which was happened since 20 years ago. He was only 5 years old and on that cold night in which he lost his everyone except his grandmother.
The scar on his back side of the neck was still there.
His phone started ringing. This was not a call, this was his alarm which used to remind him to take his medicine.
Vasuki Dar was only 5 years old when his family slaughtered by unknown people without any reasons. He would have died if his neighbours didn’t come out for help. Although, their help didn’t help him much.
He had moved to Daroja from Sopor with his grandmother. He never thought of leaving Kashmir but that night was not freeing him.
He was not meek or coward but he knew one thing, Kashmir was his home ever and forever. His Dadi used to tell him always- People are bad but not Kashmir. You are still alive because Kashmir loves you.
He completed his study in Kashmir and still he wanted to spend his life into Kashmir. He didn’t hate anyone but every night he used to cry.
He was running tuition classes in Daroja’s main market. He spent his time with young children and teenagers. His doctor always told him- If you want to forget things, you have to move to another place. You cannot forget your past, if you encounter them daily.
But how he could leave everything behind? Kashmir is his only family and he didn’t to make distance from that.
He would not go.
“Where are you going from middle of the class?”
“Sir, I was thinking to go home. I ain’t feeling good.” Radhika told a plain lie.
“What happened to you?” Abdul sir asked her with a puzzled face.
“You were good in previous class. I think you are taking upcoming debate lightly.”
“Oh, that Kashmir- Liberation from opperssion. I am upto it. Don’t worry.” She looked so confident.
“Ok go but how will you go.?”
Kashmir College of Arts was far away from Daroja. It took 1 hour to come for Radhika. But she did come, everyday.
“I called home for car.”
She went off from the class. Actually, she was not going home. She was going to pick Rafiq, his best friend. After all he was coming with all statics of her video. She was ready to compile a new song with him. However, Rafiq didn’t know much about camera but for his Aka, he had to do it.
She was about to enter into her car, suddenly she heard some argument coming from outside of the college gate.
“Uncle, give me a minute.” She told her car driver and moved forward to see.
She saw a 8 years old girl was arguing with some boys where like 16-18 years. She saw boys pushed her a side after some seconds.
“Hey, stop it guys. What is going on there?”
She saw boys ran out from there. She went to the girl and patted on her shoulder.
“They were telling me to pelt stone over there.” She directed towards her Radhika’s car.
“why?” She was astonished. Why someone would do this.
“I don’t know. They hit me after I told no.”
“Okay go home now. Should I drop you?”
“No, I can go by myself.”
Radhika sat inside her car on driver’s seat and told her driver to sit beside her. She wanted to drive. But still she had the question- why on my car?
Finally, she reached at her destination, the Daroja bus stand.
“Hello, where are you dog?”
“I am about to reach.”
“I am waiting at stand now. Hurry up.”
Now, she took out her notepad and wrote- ‘Liberation from oppression’.
Kashmir is our home. Kashmir is in our soul. Other than Insaniyat (humanity), Kashmiriyat is what we have got. We have seen slavery, we have seen atrocities, we have seen murders. Now we need Salvation. We are on the verge of becoming a body with soul. Without Kashmir, we are nothing. I, myself Radhika Mirza..
“Rafiq, you dog.” She ran towards him to hug him so tight. After a long period of time, she felt presence of a human. She was enjoying the moment. She didn’t want to let him go. She was with him now. Her best friend.
Finally train came with its sad honking as it also realised all the swearing of Rafiq. Rafiq searched his seat and sat down but he didn’t stop his swearing in murmuring sound.
There was a couple sitting in front of him. The lady was glowing like a diamond may be because of her love.
He overheard them.
‘I am eagerly waiting to see our country beautiful state.’
‘Yes, this time we can see the heaven finally.’
Rafiq was overwhelmed by these compliments for his state.
He couldn’t resist himself from speaking.
‘You both will feel so good there.’
The man looked upon him in question.
‘Hey, I am sorry for overhearing and interruption but I am from Kashmir so I can say it for sure.’
‘My name is Rafiq, Rafiq Adzan.’
‘My name is Vikram Thakur and she is my beloved wife Razia Haseen.’
‘Nice to meet both of you.’
‘We were planning this trip from 3 years but for some reason it always postponed.’
‘I am happy that you are going this time.’
Suddenly Rafiq phone started vibrating. It was from Ammi.
“Where are you Rafiq? You didn’t call for once today? Are you alright?” Mother was in so much stressed.
‘Ammi I am good, and I am in some college meeting. I couldn’t call you. Sorry.’
He wanted to cut the phone as soon as possible. He didn’t want to give her a slightest of hint about his coming to home.
‘Ok bye Ammi, I will call you soon.’
He put down the phone with a sigh of relief.
‘Mothers are mothers.’ He said while smiling.
He looked upon them for some reaction but both were giving a sad look.
‘Not every mother is an angel.’ Razia said while looking at other side. May be she was in tears.
Rafiq looked at her left hand from where the ring finger was absent or looking like someone notched it down.
Vikram started kissing her hand and said- ‘you can see it is a inter religion marriage and my own family disowned me and her. Even try demolished my office in my city.’
‘I could never went back.’
Rafiq felt bad for them but he was happy to see both of them in comfort.
Soon, the trio had their dinner together and started watching movie.
Tonight, Rafiq didn’t feel like a different person or foreigner with both of them. He felt like one of them.
Stressed, Sad, isolated and more over bullied.
‘Amma, I love you this much.’ Pradhyut hugged her mother.
Today, Jayanthi Rangnathan was so proud of her son. He finally recruited in Madras Regiment. This was his last day with her and he didn’t want to leave her. She cooked his favorite dosa with tamarind soaked sambhar, his son’s favourite.
“Jaya, our baby would become a great person.” Raman was caressing Jayathi’s head.
“What we are going to name him? A great person?”, Jayathi giggled on Raman’s words.
‘Pradhyut Jayathiraman- Son of Jayathi and Raman.
‘Amma, bye bye’, Pradhyut screaming at his loudest. His heart was screaming too- Mother, don’t let me go.
He sat down on his seat in train which was going straight to Kashmir. His first posting was in Kashmir. He checked his bag for his camera. He didn’t want to lose it as it was given by his beloved mother.
‘Buddy, you got a DSLR?’ one of the batchmate asked him.
‘Yeah, I love to take pictures.’ He replied.
‘Yeah, you can take pictures of rotten bodies of traitors.’ He started laguhing in so scary manner.
‘Why are you saying like this?’
‘So what should I say? You are not going for some fucking honeymoon with your wife, you Southy.’ He started bullied him now.
Pradhyut didn’t try to reply him back because he was used to these kind of comments. He knew they were jealous from his DSLR. He changed his seat as he couldn’t change his coach.
HIs train was 5 hours late. At last, train started to rolling and running slowly on tracks. He started looking outside. He wanted to look at the beautiful city as he never got a chance to saw it. It was really beautiful and now it was making hard for him to leave it behind.
‘What Madras battalion says- Veera Madrasi, adi kollu, adi kollu (brave Madrasi, hit and kill, hit and kill)’. He was remebering his mother. She was more than a mother. She was a battalion in herself actually.
She was in love with her nation that if war happens she could alone kill everyone. But still everyone mocks me and her by calling southy.
He got tears in his eyes by imagining his mother alone in home.
He couldn’t help this. Now it’s late.
‘You are looking beautiful like Radha in the picture’, Her mother blessed her.
‘Mom, this is not so cool. I like Rihanna more’, she gave her mother a sad face. Radhika was a hardcore fan of Rihanna and Sia as they both were the famous pop-stars and feminists.
‘I hate this Rihanna or Miohanna’, her mother didn’t want her daughter to become like Rihanna.
Radhika wanted to become a singer but for fulfilling her singing dreams, she had to get out of Daroja. She couldn’t get a chance to show her talent even for once.
In few ceremonies, she got the chance to sing but still not her favourite Rihanna, just one or two chessy Bollywood songs.
“When the time will come for me too?” She always used to ask this question to herself while practising.
Daroja was not a big place to fulfill her big dreams but still Daroja had got a heart. People used to compliment Radhika because of her singing and her thought provoking speeches. She was a speaker in her town.
She loved her Daroja but still she wanted to go some other place.
“When you are coming”?
“I am at the station only and waiting for this trash train.”
“But, you will get late. Your Ammi will get worry.”
“No, she will not. I didn’t tell him about my coming.”
“But, I told her”. She giggled and ruined his dreams.
“You bitch, I shouldn’t have told you about anything.”
“You dog, Just come home and giver her a surprise.”
She didn’t tell anyone about Rafiq’s coming home. He was her best friend like Krishna with Sudama. They knew each other since their childhood. She was eagerly waiting for him to come so that she could sing a new song in front of him.
He uploaded her songs on youtube because in Daroja internet connectivity was not available regularly. But, it didn’t lessen her courage to move further and further.
‘Get up and don’t waste your time’, she yelled at Pradhyut.
‘Amma, just two minutes’, he begged to her.
‘No means no. Get up and go for your daily running. How would you participate in upcoming recruitment?’, she snarled and put a bowl of water on his face.
He had to wake up at 4am daily for running. Since his childhood, his mother dreamt of him in Army offficer dress with at least 10 medals pinned on his dress.
She did everything to get him ready for her beloved nation. She had been living in Delhi since 1999 when Pradhyut was about to born. His father died after his birth in Tamil. He never got to know his father but he knew his mother was not only a mother but also a father.
Pradhyut was going to leave her in 7-8 months. She was prepared for that.
‘Amma, today I met a guy. He was a photographer. I loved his camera’, he gave his mother a sly look.
‘You want a camera?’ she asked calmly.
She knew his love for pictures and DSLR. He was so sensitive and so humane inside. She was afraid for him sometimes.
“How would he go for a war?”
“Would he be able to kill anyone if time comes?”
“Not everyone is a beast if he/she pick gun in hands.” She gave herself a nod.
She was going to buy a DSLR for Pradhyut. After all he came first in his parade. Soon, he would be in army dress.
The train- 1
The train was 5 hours late from its scheduled timing.
Rafiq was imagining how would he surprise ‘ammi’.
Rafiq was going home and he had got a foolproof plan to give a surprise to ammi.
“Why trains don’t come on time?”, he murmured.
Before 5 years, he came to Delhi.
But for him, Kashmir was his home, ever and forever.
So many eyes were scanning him. When he was coming inside the station, the police guard took him as a foreigner. Rafiq told him that he was a Kashmiri.
“Oh, Kashmiri! What? Muslim?”, police asked him.
‘Yes, Rafiq Adzan.’
‘Are you a pathan?’
‘No, I am kashur.’
The officer passed a smile and let him go inside the station.
That officer was very modest otherwise Rafiq always had to passed the security test for twice.
He never liked this doubly checked system. He was not more than 21 years old and always stood up whenever national anthem played, even inside the movie hall. He didn’t know why people react so differently to him.
“Train no-12***7 has been 5 hours late from its scheduled time.”
He was waiting inside the 1st class waiting room.
He was gritting his teeth and swearing the train. He took out a book and started swapping the pages.
“I am telling you I have no hunger.”
A boy was snarling at his mother in the waiting room corner.
“Beta, eat it”, mother insisted him.
The 10 year old ignored his mother and kept looking at his IPad.
Rafiq remembered the day when he was leaving Daroja for the first time (he was only 16 at that time). He never wanted to leave that heaven but he had to. The hilly terrain, the sweet smelling streets and Ammi.
Rafiq smiled as he remembered the same insisting from his mother when he was leaving for Delhi.
He had to leave the place just for the sake of his study. He was the topper of his school and secured 93 percent in 10th in J&K boards. Finding CBSE school in Daroja so tough because there were very few ones opened.
Ammi was so happy by sending him so far from home. He knew why but he still wanted to go back to Daroja.