“अच्छा ठीक है, अब नहीं मिलेंगे उससे। ख़ुश? अब ढोल ना पीटने लगना घर में।”, सुगम धीरे धीरे खेत में उतरने लगा।
खेतों से प्यार था उसको। जब दिसम्बर के ठंड में धान की कटाई होती थी तो पुवाल से बने हुए पहाड़ पर चढ़ना बहुत अच्छा लगता था। दिनाक को हमेशा हरा दिया करता था।
एक बार उसने घर पर पहाड़ बनाने के लिए बापू को बोला था लेकिन बापू को मालिक से पुवाल लाने की इजाज़त नहीं मिली।
मन ममोस कर रह गया सुगम।
ख़ैर अब तो वो पुवाल ख़रीद सकता है अगर चाहे तो लेकिन अब प्यार पुवाल नहीं था। पता नहीं था कि क्या था।
तुम तो कह रहे थे, हम हाथ नहीं पकड़ेंगे? लेकिन तुम तो गले पकड़ लिए भाई साहब। बहुत आगे चला गया है बात। – दिनाक ने चुटकी लेते हुई बात बोली।
अब मैं इस बारे में कुछ नहीं बोलूँगा। जो बताना था बता दिया और तुमने देख लिया। तुम पर बहुत भरोसा है, दिनाक। मैं ऐसा कुछ नहीं होने दूँगा जिससे तू मेरा साथ देने में कभी क़तरा जाए। सुगम ने आँखों में आँखे डाल कर बोला।
हमको तुम्हारा सर्टिफ़िकेट नहीं चाहिए रे। हम अपने दोस्त को बहुत कुछ छोड़ते देखें हैं जिससे वो बहुत प्यार करता था। चाहे कुछ भी हो थोड़ी चोरी तो “इश्क़ में चलती ही है”। दिनाक ने सुगम को पेट में गुदगुदाते हुए बोला।
चल आजा देखते हैं आज कौन घर तक पहुँचता है, आजा दिनाक।
“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.