Wistful Memories! O Bulbul, Without You Our Garden Is Empty!


Whenever we lose a loved one, our hearts start to ache. The air around us feels too dense and we feel choked with memories. We keep hearing their voices everywhere, it’s like they never left. Everything is a constant reminder of their presence. We feel them everywhere. Nothing else matters. Yet the more we try to hold on to their memories, the faster they start to fade. 

Today, as darkness fell, I knew I had to stop longing for your return. But your smell still lingers inside the garden you so loved. Remember the plants you used to water? They are still waiting to be watered. They too hope to see us together just as I do. I understand that the people today call you Newton. A big name, rationally absurd. You never saw the apple falling and named gravitation after it. Yet, you taught me the gravity of love long ago when I was little, when you carried me on your shoulders and roamed around in the garden. I still remember each and every one of your fictional stories. The way you made me believe in fairies and the way you made me believe that aliens were attacking our house and you were the only saviour. The way you woke me up at dawn to perform the fajr prayers and how you would never get angry when I constantly tried to sneak off to go back to sleep.

There is something I should say today for I know I might never get a chance to tell you this again. Every time you gave the adhan (A call for prayers) in the mosque, Ammi would signal everyone in the house to be quiet and marvel at your melodious voice. She believed that all the birds in our garden gathered around and stopped chirping to hear your adhan and that the flowers sang along with you. She firmly believed that it was because of this that birds always surrounded you whenever you sat in the garden. I could never understand why you would sneak off with handfuls of grain for the birds even when you knew that Ammi would be angry if she found out.But as I look back now, I understand how this taught me the meaning of love for not only mankind but for all kinds of species as well.

I remember you being furious at your helplessness while watching a women being teased and abused by the soldiers of the Indian army. I remember the look you got on your face while telling me how the soldiers stared at her lecherously and how,if only it hadn’t been for baba who held you back, you would have punched each one of their faces. Looking back now, I realise how the incident changed you. I see now your love for humanity and our watan-Kashmir.  It was you from whom I learnt how to fight for what we hold dear. In a way, you truly are a Newton and our oppressed land needs more Newtons like you to set us free from shackles of enslavement.

Our village, which once glowed and vibrated with the sound of your adhan, is enveloped in a melancholic mist now. The birds sitting on the branches in the garden are awaiting your arrival. Ammi believes they too are singing songs of your loss and trying to tell you how the garden is lonely without your presence. They will keep singing until the sun paves way for the moon, until your return. As I walk into the garden where we grew up together, I see us running between the cherry trees. I follow you and we run away together to a land where no one can ever take you away from me. We both can’t stop laughing as I try to chase you down. I can’t catch you and beg you to stop. Then I see you coming towards me from the corner of my eye, wearing that mischievous grin of yours. I try to catch hold of your wrist but you only keep slipping away farther and farther. I open my tear filled eyes and see the birds surrounding your grave. I see the flowers all withered and the leaves of trees all wilted. The garden has turned into a graveyard. The garden that once came alive by your voice now lies as dead as you.



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