Monday, January 7, 2019




                                       (FLOWERS OF INNOCENCE)

Sometime in 1998, I was advised by my boss to visit Kashmir for two days for some urgent official work. After finishing the entire work in one day, I decided to use my other day for visiting Gulmarg. Armed insurgency  had not died down though apparent calm prevailed. For an outsider, normalcy had been restored. Insiders knew it as an aberration. I was neither an insider nor an outsider. So you can very well understand what I knew about the situation prevailing in Kashmir valley then.

As I made open my plan to visit Gulmarg, my colleagues Abdul Rashid, Mohd Sultan and Dildar Singh volunteered to join me. We decided to leave early and return by 4 PM. Abdul Rashid brought his six-year-old son Irfan along with him.

We booked a Taxi to and fro. Irfan sat on the front seat along with me. I kept talking to him all along. He was happy, smiling and enjoying every moment. I gave him a pack of Amul chocolates and he didn't accept it  at the first go although the temptation was visible on his face. He then looked at his father who gave him a go-ahead signal.

After we had our lunch at Gulmarg, Irfan suddenly asked his father:

" Daddy, you have told me yesterday that you shall show me a Batta  ( Kashmiri Pandit ) at Gulmarg. Now show me."

Abdul Rashid tried to avoid the issue by diverting the child's attention towards Gandola or chair car ride but the boy refused to get diverted. In the alternative, Irfan loudly said:

" I want to see a Batta  before going back to Srinagar. "

Unable to control the child, Abdul Rashid finally pointed towards me and said :

"Irfan here is the Batta that I wanted you to see ."

At this, Irfan walked up to me, touched my belly and looked at my backside. Then suddenly the child started weeping inconsolably. When Abdul Rashid tried to pacify him, the boy ran away in fury and shouted:

" You are a liar. You are a cheat. Where are the nails like long teeth at his belly? 
Where is his back eye? " Show me nails like long teeth of the Batta near his belly. Show me how he bites with his belly. Show me his back eye. You are a liar. I will never believe you now. You are not my daddy. You are showing me a human being and not a Batta . "

And the boy continued to weep inconsolably.

In 2009, I was posted in Srinagar city when one of my relations visited Kashmir along with his family. They had come from Jaipur. The family comprised of husband,  wife and a 5-year-old little girl Mini. I had done their hotel and local transport bookings. With them, I also went to Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Kheer Bhawani and Kokkernaag. Mini attracted everyone's attention with her innocence. Sultana,  the taxi driver, who was with us for three successive days, didn't start driving his vehicle in the morning unless he gave Mini her favourite Five Star chocolate.

On the last day of their stay in Kashmir , Mini asked her father:

" Papa, you had told me that you shall take me to your old house in Fateh Kadal. You had also told me that you shall show me a Musalmaan ."

" Yes child, I wanted to visit Fateh Kadal but there was no time. But every person who met us here is  a Muslmaan The Shikara walla, the shopkeepers, the Gorrawalla at Gulmarg and Sultana the taxi driver."

" No, they were not Musalmaans. You are telling a lie ."

" No my child, they are  all Muslmaans"

" No, you are a Liar. Why didn't they have guns under their Pherans? Why did you buy so many shawls from them? You have been always telling that in Kashmir, Musalmaans keep guns under their Pherans. You have been telling mummy that you will not buy shawls from Musalmaans. How can Sultana uncle be a Musalmaan? You are not my Papa. You are a liar. " 

And then suddenly, Mini started weeping inconsolably. Crying, " You are a liar" and weeping, she ran aimlessly in the room. When her mother slapped Mini, she clung to her but continued to weep. Nothing could divert her attention.

(Avtar Mota)

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.