The Many Faces of our Struggle

Manzoor was seven years old the first time he heard the word Aazadi.
He had been in immense love with English subject from day one after his teacher had discussed with the class a beautiful poem of beloved Rumi.He remembered the poem by heart and loved to discuss it with his friends in the school lawn.
It was during the vacations that the school building had been burnt down in an encounter between the Indian Army and the Mujahids.The school had been built in 1960 by an English architect.It had an eye-catching T-shape leaving the office building between two orchards which were filled with almond trees.
Manzoor had been on a trip to Pahalgham with his cousins but the words of the English teacher kept ringing in his ears for days:
“You people need to study well.Kashmir is going to need you in the coming years.”The teacher had also quoted Nelson Mandela in the class,”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Back home,everything had changed.From mindset to behavior,people were completely reversed.Becoming an area commander for the Mujahideen was like cracking the prestigious IAS exam.
Ammi had already lost her brother in the process and took enormous care of her son,Manzoor.Abu was a man of different tastes.He took least care of the education of his son and wanted him to become the commander of some Jihaad group in the future.
It happened on a Friday that Manzoor left for arms training with a group called ‘Al-Umar’ which were to be mentored by Latram.Latram was a tall man with a broad forehead and a thick mole on the right side of his face just above the king-size moustache.
He received a three months training and was sent back home to deal with the issues on district level.When he returned home,he felt bathed in a relaxed water as all the men,women and children of the town were geared up,waiting for him.
“Mubarak! Congratulations!Manzoor has returned safe,”were the words on the mouth of every visitor.
Within a week,army camp was deployed in the town.Manzoor’s movement also got thwarted.He used to meet his mother behind the Jamia Masjid of the town on Thursday evenings as on Thursdays,army used to visit neighboring villages.
“I have found a girl for you.Leave this weapon.Leave it forever,”she used to tell him.But the lust for weapon had grown so much in him that he did not even take care of his mother’s wishes.
Ideological rivalries had grown in the area.So had the weapon.
One night,five mujahids of a group had been gunned down by unknown gunmen.Manzoor’s involvement had been fixed and the word had spread across the town.He had become the talk of the town now.
It was a Thursday.Manzoor was waiting behind the mosque.Sitting across a walnut tree,he was gazing at the fast moving hands of his watch.Then he sailed through his past:the words of the English teacher,the poetry of beloved Rumi and Khalil Gibran,the T-shaped school,the lawn and the almond trees.
The hour hand had already crossed nine in the evening but Ammi never came.
Manzoor was restless that night.He was tumbled in a strange sense of downheartedness.Before the sun could spread its rays,he left for home as he had an inkling that something dangerous had happened.
From a distance,he could hear grieving women which threw a deluge of doubts on his mind like the ash of a frozen kangri.After a great deal of time,he opened the front gate which had been painted green following his departure.He remembered a gathering once,years before at their house on the celebration of his sister’s success in the matriculation exams.
But had he imagined to be defied by this catastrophe?On entering home,he saw all his cousins and aunts had assembled there amid shouts and wails.He was unable to understand this rapid change of atmosphere and nobody could gather the varol to unfurl the calamity that had swept over his family.
Seeing everyone dumb and dull,he entered into the kitchen only to find his mother,father and sister lying dead in a pool of blood.He collapsed and fell on the floor.He was not stone-hearted enough to stand firm to the gust of emotions on witnessing the cadavers of Ammi,Abu and Didi.He could not bear the presence of his mother but in the shroud of silence that could not be broken.How can one?
Manzoor spent the night in the graveyard talking non-stop and mad with the graves which never responded back.”Who will guide me,Ammi?Who will make me a revolutionary?,”he cried the whole night.
The following day,a militant group owned the responsibility of this bloodshed as a mark of revenge for the misdeed he had never committed.He was filled with enormous despair and misery.He totally failed to realize on what fault his entire family was murdered.These thoughts kept haunting his mind until an idea flashed across his eyes:joining the military ranks.Was it his wish to taste the fruit he used to denounce as treason?No!
Circumstances forced him to enter into the forbidden land.
(May the light of truth shine upon all of us)
(Published here-


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