500-Year-Old Spade Still Calling a Spade in Snowbound Kashmir

  Choudhary Manzoor with his legacy blade. KO Pics by Umer Ahmed

At a time when administration is pressing machines into service for clearing snowbound roads in the valley, a non-decrepit and sleepy village in Budgam is paving a way with a wooden spade, carrying a long legacy and an interesting story with it.

By Umer Ahmed

AS snowfall began blanketing Budgam’s Mujhpathri area on January 3, Chowdhary Manzoor came out with a unique and rustic wooden spade locally called “Fueh” to clear paths.

With an imposing figure, Manzoor stood in the backdrop of mounds of snow holding his ancestral article with pride.

“This is how my forefathers would come out and clear paths during the harshest winters in Kashmir,” said Manzoor, holding the legacy spade in his hand. “This exceptional piece has witnessed vagaries of weather and is still working just fine.”

Every winter as it snows, Manzoor uses his inherited shovel only for emotional means to clear snow.

“I feel the presence of my father while using it,” he said. “It seems as if he is just observing me from behind.”

  Amid snow-clearance machines, Manzoor’s spade still makes the Kashmir’s bygone time intact.

Once done with snow-clearance, Manzoor properly cleans the spade, before putting it back in the room filled with his family relics.

Manzoor received this antique spade from his father, late Mohammad Shafi Chowdhary, who had inherited it from his father, Lal Sheikh, who in-turn had received it from his father, Raj Sheikh.

“I only know three generations of my family who has inherited it [the spade] but there’s a story my father had told me,” Manzoor recalls.

“My forefathers had taken it from someone 400 years ago, and that person had been carrying it for some 100 years already. And since then, we have been using it every winter as a snow-clearing object.”

  Manzoor is preserving the ancestral tool for his children.

Fueh is a unique piece of carpentry in itself. Made up of a single wooden slate, it has rectangular-shaped base, with a long handle. It is mostly made of Deodar or Kail wood which makes it durable and light weight.

But now, Manzoor is little worried as lately some cracks have appeared in his legacy tool.

“Such tools can’t be repaired even if I wanted to repair it badly,” he says.

“It’s not just a tool to clear snow but an article that carries emotions and memories. I’m preserving it so that someday I can tell this story to my children and hand it over to them so that they carry this legacy forward.”

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