The Unwanted Shawl

Kashmir Pashmina Shawls : Defining love for over 300 years

Ejaj works in his father’s Kashmiri Handicraft and Shawl shop based in Lal Chowk, Srinagar. He studies part time and helps his father on weekends or whenever he is traveling for work. His college in downtown, offers him a decent education in Agricultural studies and Ejaj wants to help the farmers in his village.

One day, while he is enjoying his afternoon siesta on the Dal with his Shikara Chacha (uncle), he is mesmerized by the beauty of a young woman standing at the bank, holding books in her hand and head wrapped in a blue head scarf. Just as he blinked, she disappeared behind a crowd. Unsure if he had dreamt that, Ejaj continued to slug around before winding up at his father’s shop, which was, a mundane activity for him. He still thought about the dream he had or the woman he thought he saw as he lazed in the beautiful valley of Dal and mountains.

One afternoon, an old woman came to his father and requested for a return. It had been over a week and both father and son, despite their tender trade-crafts that could not just lose a sale or being taken advantage of their cordial temperaments. The father hesitated and began to ask which shawl was unwanted and it turned out that it was their shops most popular and expensive pure pashmina. Just as the two were quarreling in a typical customer shopkeeper frenzy, the son drifted away once again and spotted the girl from the other day in the Shikara, strolling casually through their shops display items. He froze and their eyes met. She came inside and inquired the prize of the pashmina shawl that hung outside. He stuttered a response and asked her to sit so he could show her the very best. She looked simple yet had an air of wealth about her.

As she sat in their humble store, the son became engaged in destroying the folds that had become nearly permanent on the shawls due to lack of buyers in recent times. Rabiya, he gathered her name was when her friend called her from outside, was not happy with any one of them. She looked at the woman quarreling with Ejajs father for a refund and asked him the matter. He explained, exasperated, that the woman had purchased a pure pashmina shawl worth 70,000 for her daughter’s wedding and now wants a refund after a week.

Rabiya, demanded to see the unwanted shawl and as soon as she saw it, her green eyes lit up in a manner that shopkeepers and traders of the craft knew well. She offered to buy it from the family and her state of exaltation was a sight to behold. Ejaj was more than happy to wrap a beautiful shawl for a beautiful woman. Before she left, he asked her casually, why she had purchased a doubtful item when she could have had a new one.

” That woman changed her mind about the shawl after purchasing it. It became unwanted after being used and despite its cost, lost its charm. I know how that feels. I will wear this to remind myself that I am not unwanted and eventually I will find a place to where I belong, just like this beautiful blue masterpiece of Pashmina

Rabiya replied.

Ejaj, dumbstruck, simply nodded. Rich or poor, Kashmir or elsewhere, there is a Gordian’s knot in everyone’s life. A conundrum of problems and cocktail of emotions that individuals suffer, endure and many times, overcome. The beautiful lass, Rabiya needed an unwanted Shawl, the father needed money and Ejaj just needed to see that there lies beauty in fragments.

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