Reminisces on life and death in Kashmir

“Why don’t you change these plates and replace them with the disposable ones”, I questioned the mess boy, “didi, sahib sai baat kijiye”, was the reply I got. I left the mess and could hear a boy talking on phone in Kashmiri;that was the first time I saw him. Naveed was  a very lean and serious looking boy, unlike other boys, he was very focused and kept his eyes straight to the ground- rare quality though! Time passed and one day an emergency occurred. One of the girls had to be operated upon, she complained about stomach ache; her friends rushed to the hospital and got all the formalities done. I got a call from hospital to immediately come, I had no clue about the address.  Naveed called me and gave me the proper address, I reached there and there he was, with utmost decency and reverence he carried my bags and escorted me to the hospital. We were thousands of miles away from home and it was our responsibility to take care of the patient with us. Five of us stayed in the hospital and tried our best to make things easier.

Due to busy schedule and ongoing classes, I could not see him for most of the time, one such day, one of the girls in hostel got seriously ill, we immediately rushed to the hospital and the doctor told us she has appendicitis and needs to be operated upon immediately. Throughout the night, we  rushed here and there, getting all the tests done. I remember final exams were going on and it was his Maths paper next day, still he forgot about his exams and took care of the patient. “Azra didi, please take rest, you look tired, he kept on repeating these words, ignoring his own dizziness. Next morning, we left the hospital. The only days,  we got to meet each other  was only in hospitals and quiz competitions! I could make that he was a boy of great manners and great character. 

In the month of September 2014, devastating floods shook Kashmir valley and disturbed the students studying outside valley. We tried to raise some funds and help in any matter we could. Yet again the strong pillar in that noble cause was none other than Naveed. 

Few days after that brief encounter, in the month of October, he went missing.

None of the students had any clue about his whereabouts. There was gloom and sadness all around. It was a painful time  for his friends and family. In September 2015, three bullet ridden bodies were found in Pattan area of North Kashmir, Naveed’s body was one of them. It was a life changing moment for me. I could not believe what my eyes saw! I could not take the eyes from the tortured and butchered body of Naveed. I do not know whether he was linked to any group or not, I have no idea whether he was a threat to democracy or not, I have no clue whether he was terrorist or not, all I know is that Naveed was one of the most composed and caring  guy I have ever come across.

All those memories flashed before my eyes; how he used to take care of people, how he used to forget his own good for the benefit of others! Life teaches a lot, but this has really been a hard reality to live with.

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