Freedom is the remedy if slavery is a curse

My village in the northern district of
Bandipora rests on the base of a
mountain range.Like other parts of
Kashmir,this too has worst memories of
oppression with the hands of occupational
forces.
The same old dream of Aazadi passed to
us at our birth has left us restless
throughout our lives.I have seen men
being abducted,interrogated,tortured
and women being harassed.I have played
a cricket where fast bowling and
Dilshan-shot were equally banned due to
a fear that the ball might land in the
army camp.I have been a reluctant mid-
wicket fielder due to the fear that the
barrels of the guns do not point exactly
at me.Like that,there is lot more to
tell.But this time,let me tell you a
horrifying story of illegal Indian
occupation.
I remember,it was the first day after
this year’s Id-ul-Fitr.All the boys of our
village were back home and we were tired
with so much of cricket.Everyone wanted
a party in Wular or Manasbal.But
someone’s noble idea took us to a place
called Tangabuthoo which is some four
kilometres away from our village,Ajas.It
is a mountainous area.We were seven in
number-
Umer,Aakib,Eden,Parvez,Irfan,Tajamul
and infact,Me.We had some chips and
cold-drinks with us.
It was a calm day,sun was shining to its
fullest.Random ideas took us to random
places and on our way,We met the grand
Martyr’s graveyard there.Everyone of
us wanted to stay there and pay tributes
to them but ablution was something no
one had done.So our feet took us to a
stream which was some feet away.The
stream was flowing and the children of
the Gujjars playing in it added to its
beauty.Women were washing their
belongings and it looked like the old
Kashmiri culture was still existent
there.Leaving everything apart,we found
a bathing place.
I had already removed my upper garment
and some strange voices were calling us
from the upper side.It was the men of
the Ajas camp of Indian army.They
ordered us to come up to them.We sent
two of our boys.That much did not
satisfy them and we were all assembled in
front of them.We all got spooked and
they started their askings.It went like
this:
They:Where from did you come?
Me:Jamia Mohalla,Ajas.
They:Why have you come here?
Me:We have come to bath here.People are
enjoying Eid everywhere and we came
here for it.
They:Why were you hiding yourself
there,Are you running a conspiracy
against us?
Me:Two of our boys were enough to
acquaint you people about us and
conspiracy?Why should we?
One of them started using abusive
languages and said,”You are befooling us
and tell me how much time did it take you
to reach here?”I answered
hastely,”About an hour and a half”.”Now
look at this mountlet and tell me how
much time will it take you to climb
this?,And open your clothes and
climb”,he cried heavily.I got frowned
internally and everyone must have
got.Me?Mountain?Naked?And Why?
What is my crime?I muttered to
myself.We were too reluctant to his order
and looked back to go down and bath.But
Irfan whispered something like Nagalandi
and we got barred again.Irfan’s life was
already perished in matric when he was
arrested on the charges of stone-pelting
and jailed for months.So,he did not care
much about what came out of his
mouth.A black man came out of them and
pointed his stick at Eden.It looked like he
was going to start the beating.But
something saved us there and we went to
bath again.Some did bath and some did
not.Everyone was terrified.I finished at
numero uno and lighted a cigarette.I had
finished quarter of it and down came
another group of the army.I had to
throw it away to reduce the askings from
their side.
We were coming down now and were lost
in our own conversation.Umer was taking
oath of something he had done in his
past.He said like this,”AllahTalhas Path(I
swear by God)”.Those army men were
listening from some side and asked
him,Hey Londe,”Kya sirf Allah ka naam le
raha hai”(O you,why are you taking only
the name of Allah).Umer,a daring guy
gently said to him,”He is my Lord,I take
his name,Why should you interfere?”They
threw some words again at us but we did
not pay any heed to those.
We entered into the graveyard and I
recited whatever I remembered from the
holy Quran.
What an ample time it was!My eyes were
full of tears and a gentle breeze was
blowing.It really was a great time.I lit
another cigarette and was lost.My face
was filled with anger and I took
long,hard puffs from my cigarette.
Akib was the eldest of us and most caring
too.
“We should leave.We have prepared a
graffiti down there.We should not let
them see those walls.Otherwise,We’ll be
killed”,Akib pleaded.
We had prepared a graffiti.Words like
Gaza,Aazadi,War Till Victory,Palestine
were painted.So,we left through a
shortcut and reached our homes safely
wondering if we will be caught.
“They tell me:If you see a slave
sleeping,do not wake him lest he be
dreaming of freedom.
I tell them:If you see a slave
sleeping,wake him up and explain to him
freedom.”
~Khalil Gibran

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