What a beautiful morning it is. I just love this time when Asim (my husband) and my kids haven’t woken up. This is the time I devote to my pranayam, meditation, walk and my gratitude journal. I tried to meditate but my restless mind gave up. Made a big cuppa tea with some cookies and started sipping it while going through today’s news paper. This is one of those rare occasions when I go through the news paper first thing in the morning otherwise to avoid negative News, I delay it generally to the later part of the day.
After reading the news of economic reforms that the government is about to bring about and arrival of the president of Sri Lanka, I was about to keep down the newspaper when a not so significant news caught my eye. Security personnel took down two terrorists named Zafar Khan and Zaid Ali. A name sounded familiar. There were not so clear pictures of those people. Couldn’t believe my eyes it was Zaid, same Zaid ?
Flash Back : When Zaid was not a Terrorist
Years back Asim (spouse of author) was posted in valley. He had recently picked up his rank. He was the new handsome G2 ( G2 is assistant staff appointment in Headquarters essentially plans operations and associated tasks) at RR. I was left behind with my little kids Devina and Ambar in Delhi. This is one part that I hate the most about this illustrious job otherwise. With my naughty monkeys who were just 1 year apart I already had my handful. My day used to go in doing homely chores and taking them for their tuition and karate classes. I don’t know how the time used to pass by. I was really waiting for their exams to get over so I could join Asim at least for the summer vacations.
And here came the much awaited day when I finally joined him at Srinagar. This was my kids first flight to any place at least in their senses. While Devina was busy dressing up her doll like a man and Ambar was busy in trying all the buttons above the seat. I was trying to make excuse every time to the much irritated air hostess to ask something or the other when the naughty one pressed the button.
Plane came to a halt and I took a sight of relief. Luckily Aseem was there to pick us up. My day was made. Kids were more than usual chattery, telling him all the stories of their school and taking turns to make complaints about each other.
Kashmir was so beautiful that I forgot all my worries and pains and started enjoying the serene surroundings. I wish families were allowed here so I could stay here forever with my darling husband. One thing good about army where ever we army wives go we find something or the other to buy. Other officers’ wives had already briefed me what to buy and from where.
You come to Kashmir and you cant go without buying that semi Pashmina shawl with lovely hand embroidery or that namda with beautiful chain stitch work or that walnut wood jewellery box with much intricate Karigari. Everyone suggested the same shop from where all army wives were buying since ages and he gives us a whopping 33% discount exclusively for army personnel. I entered that beautiful shop of Amaan Ali and shopped like crazy. Amaan Ali and his wife Zahida were more than courteous. They were so warm and affectionate that we built a bond instantly. My kids were busy playing with their little son who was almost of their age, a year younger may be.
First Time I met Zaid
I was given the task to do decor`of few guest rooms which I took so willingly as it involved some serious shopping of few thousands. Here started my series of trips to Amaan Ali’s shop. You could get almost anything there from a small paper mache box to a carpet worth few lakh rupees. Ambar, Devina and Amaan Ali’s son Zaid (they called him Zubi with love) became closest pals. He started coming to our place to play with my kids. He was such an angel. Real pink cheeks, big beautiful eyes and a black mane of hair.He used to look so angelic in his firan that my husband and I started getting really fond of him. He was quite a bright child and while playing with the Doctor set of my kids, he always insisted on enacting as a Doctor while Devina acted as nurse and Ambar a patient. Zubi told me that he will become a Doctor one day.
Time passed and the day came when I left Kashmir with a heavy heart with beautiful memories of that heavenly place and its innocent hardworking beautiful people. Years went by, and many postings later Asim again got posted to Kashmir. I immediately looked for Amaan Ali’s shop. On reaching Srinagar and found out that he passed away years back and Zahida along with her family migrated to their village.
My Return to Kashmir and The Lost Zaid
Missed my beautiful Kashmiri friends so much. During those days Asim had to go to Gandarbal for some official work. Kids being in college in Delhi, I could tag along with him whenever possible. So I went with him there. Went to the market and couldn’t believe my eyes. Saw much older Zahida at a shop which she was looking after with the help of a servant. Her eyes became moist recognizing me.
Where was Zaid ? What his mother told me was heart wrenching. Just after his father’s death, Zaid lost interest in studies and came in contact with few people who misguided him and he started meeting those fanatic people on regular basis. They brain washed him so much that one day he ran away from the house and became a Terrorist. His Aami reacts to every little crash of door with hopeful eyes that her son has returned…
She showed me his photograph. Cute chubby cheeks boy had turned into a handsome Kashmiri man. Still he looked so innocent that I couldn’t believe my eyes that someone so innocent can take such a drastic step. He stopped meeting his mom also after that as his visits to her used to cause her much problem.
He was in the list of most wanted people. What a wastage of such an intelligent and bright youth! His innocent words still keep ringing in my mind. “Aunty, I will become a Doctor one day”.