Four years ago:
It happened on our trip to Pahalgham when I first met Nargis.She was also on picnic with her school as was declared by the broach fastened to her tie.
I was resting myself against a deodar tree when I first noticed her gaze.She was walking with a book under her arm and I was already reading one by Hosseini.She did not lower or evade her gaze and I felt there was something as we exchanged a grin.
A hundred girls of her age passed by the tree I was resting myself against but Nargis was aloof.A young lady of literary taste,she seemed to be bounded by her otherworldly character with her kohled black eyes,which were as deep as an ocean,her chin length frontal hair,which she helped behind her hair,over and over.She seemed shy and silent,still as a lake.
It would be a matter of curse if I go on describing her because it all lied in her eyes.A woman guided by a literary zest is always tough to describe,infact indescribable,because beauty lies in her eyes.Her eyes spoke stories,volumes,bulks,books and so on.
Across the tree,I lit cigarettes and when I took long,deep puffs,she gazed at me like a chain-smoker who has not puffed even a single shot for days.”Perhaps,she wants to puff some shots or maybe she is a fan of Anne Sexton,”I thought to myself.
I also carried a label of pride within the people I was living.To my friends,I was a boy who loved to be with himself only,with the books and the packets of cigarette.I was a boy who did not talk much and to whom every girl was unacceptable and of worthless interest.But this time,I was pretty sure of having abandoned every label I carried.I was pretty sure of losing myself to a girl I had seen just moments before.A novel sensation had already sparkled my heart and I felt an intense urge of talking to her.
I started the issue and in no time we were so friendly to eachother.We introduced ourseleves to eachother and began sharing the knowledge of literature each had.She threw bouncers of Kahlil Gibran’s poetry and I outclassed her with the yorkers of Beloved Rumi.
We did not share so much of time in between though,but we shared our mail addresses and I was overwhelmed with joy and sensed a colossal craving of letting her know the truth I felt for her and about that first moment which had left me wild.I wanted to tell her how special she was.
The following day,I checked my mailbox and was glad to see her messages and good wishes.I did not hang back myself in enquiring about the melancholic personality she carried and she straightaway told me about her father who being a political prisoner had spent whole of Nargis’s life in some jail in the Indian state of Rajasthan.She told me about the torturous wait she had to suffer while waiting for the January of each year because it was the month she used to travel all the way to Rajasthan and meet with her father.Unlike other girls of her age,she seemed to be so serious.My God!So serious.I resigned myself to emotions and did not try to get too close.
We talked of Kashmir,politics,books,changes and everything we would encounter during our talks.With no genuine people around her,maybe she found comfort in sharing stories and experiences with me.
Once,she did not message me for a month and I would go through my mailbox every night to read her messages over and over.I still remember the last message of that month in which she had shared a quote from The Reluctant Fundamentalist,”Power comes from becoming change.”
After that,pure and warm feelings kept flowing through our intermittent e-mails.The philosophical quality and the depth of insights all the great persons I had read reflected from the words she used to send me.
She was very clear in her approach as she wanted me to become a profound man who would never bend down in life and carry on as a warrior in the atmosphere of any kind.But she was in a way unaware of the change I had already attained in her chase and memory.I had already attained my writer-self in her memory.
24 June,2014(1 a.m.):
Our sporadic e-mails continued till a momentous midnight of 24th June,2014.
Yes,24th June,2014,1 a.m.:The date and time I remember very well.It was a moonlit night and I was checking my mailbox which I had not done for quite a long time.Nargis had messaged me in abundance and in one of the messages,she had dropped her phone number.
I smiled to myself and was happy to know about the respect she had started to pay towards my feelings.
Without thinking much,I dialled her number.My God!That was my first ever talk with a girl on phone.She complained about the delay I had made while responding to her text.She also told me that her eyes had halted to make movements while waiting for my phone call.
We talked about so many things.We went from family to friends,college days,books,authors and many other things.I told her about my town,my college and my studies.I told her about the struggles I had gone through in the track of her sweet memory.
I did not hesitate myself in sharing powerful and passionate quotes from The Unbearable Lightness Of Being because I wanted to tell her what I felt for her.I wanted to tell her of the loveliness her soul had.
Thereafter,we would talk for hours and go random in our talks.We would share the day each had gone through.
I would tell her of the madness I had moved into in search of her beautiful soul and of the deepness her eyes carried.
Finally,we met and it was actually her idea to meet.It happened on the eve of Eid.
She had already become my subject and my prose but we differed on our subjects because Kashmir was so dear to her.I did not deviate from literary talks and kept every word of my true affection unexpressed because it was what shaped my prose and I loved to do it in my dreams only.We went from Kalhana to the Pandit Literature and from Maqbool Bhat to Agha Shahid Ali.In a word,we went from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.We seldom talked of the differences and interests we had in our tastes because true love is devoid of differences and interests.True love is a communion of souls.
Greater Kashmir reads:
The headline:Floods wreak havoc across JK.
We had talked earlier that day on phone and I messaged her by the evening,”You alright?”She messaged back after an hour,”I had come to RajBagh with my aunty and water level is increasing only.We are helpless.Perhaps,a day or two.”
In no time,mobile networks got suspended and I could not respond to her message.The line,”Perhaps,a day or two” did not hurt me much because we had exchanged so much of texts like this in the past and being a fan of Ghalib,things like this were obvious from her side.
The following day,I tried to make a call but there was no response.There were no bars,no network indications and I was left frustated in a state of misery.
Seconds have passed,minutes have passed,hours have passed and days even but Nargis is no where in the sight.Perhaps,the deadly floods have withered away her beautiful soul.That very text,”Perhaps,a day or two” troubles my mind all day long and I keep on weeping all day long.I dial her number thousand times a day but there are no answers.I wait for the ‘hello’ which had already changed my life but the phone call always ends with howls,”This number does not exist,this number is out of reach.”
Then in conditions of helplessness,death speaks to me and my heart ceases to function.Restlessness grows and I muster courage to talk to death.I ask it to murder me like it murdered my Nargis,poor Nargis but “death comes,but does not come.”
There are a million words to share,a million stories to tell about the Kashmir which was very dear to my Nargis.Unfortunately,she has disappeared to the destiny-unknown.
I sit across that bridge
My home is a river
Day is a dull fact,a sharp fantasy
Night is a countdown timer
Sky above is a blanket of clouds-so black
For I fear my sighs may not reach The Creator
Worried-I am not
For I am in communion
With my beloved
In the communion of souls.
Four years ago: