Tale of a Mother:Free in her wilderness but bonded by lost Love

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free – John Wolfang

The morning was as cold as dry ice and I was wading through it to this institute where I took math’s classes. The winters’ alacrity, the snow crumbs and the delightful icicles, all of it was bringing appeasing silence to world, not unusual, yet unlike the usual silence, torn by noise and din.

In displeasure,  I enrolled my eyes heavenward; I encountered the sun battling with kohl colored clouds. I took my way through a short route – we call it Prem Galli in Baramulla town. While I was walking, I halted my stroll when I spotted a woman of medium stature, in her early fifties, roaming aimlessly around with hairs open and unclean. She had elegant innocence and pain gleaming in her deep eyes. Someone asked her; Zoon Appa, Pheran kaiz chi ne logmut? She responded  with a silent grin.

I was still standing there and she was in front of me. So closely and carefully she glared at me, like before preparing for school, a mother scrutinizes her son. In that teeth-chattering cold I found her in only kameez-shilwar and tattered but different footwear. I couldn’t offer her much than a burger I had just bought. But she, even on my insistence, refused to take – instead cupped her hands around my face and shot a kiss on my temple and left with a mysterious lip zipped smile.

Part of me, the emotional half, couldn’t get off her. I tracked her footsteps. She was near to big giant maple tree when chann wol – “chickpeas vendor”, asked her, Hey Zooni Kotei Gasak? “Deryaab” – Jhelum, she replied.

I bought, without feeling appetite for having them, some chickpeas from the vendor, just to gather some information about the woman. Snow was now falling down with a gradual pace and sun was hidden still behind the dense wall of clouds.

She was muttering something with herself and I heard questions upon her lips: what is the matter with her, I thought?

With a deep gasp vendor started narrating her tale: She was the wife of a surrendered militant, who surrendered and became prisoner in punishment for years. He used to run a tea-stall to meet the needs of his family – his wife and his only son. They were content with their simple living, but faith had something else in store for them. On an ill-fated dusk,  the catastrophe knocked at her door. On a mere suspension troops manhandled her husband away and sent back to her, his body in a pool of blood, and with words that were no longer alive on his soaked lips.

The night was so ugly, it was raining violently outside. Her sobs and shrieks died in the wild sound of fury. In the following morning, every road and street took a moment to turn into mob of people, when news of his murder reached every ear. When I saw his body I found nearly a dozen of bullet holes on his chest, said the vendor. They had pumped bullets in his body and thrown him into the waters, we came to know later.

Determined on its ruthless will her ill-fate, just a couple of months after his husbands demise, through wild fever left her son dead into her lap and this world an alien for her. This couple of catastrophes left an ugly mark on her mind and since then she could be seen wandering in search of her husband from village to village. She frequently sits on the banks of Jhelum and fixes her gaze on its flowing water and sings in her husbands’ longing.  

The chann-wol and I stood enmeshed in eerie silence. I couldn’t assemble words to speak or ask anything. And I saw the snow had stopped altogether besides clouds had disappeared thereby allowing the sun to shine.

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