Thursday, March 20, 2014

A day without shoes

By Naseer A Ganai

She was running without shoes. It was the most nervous run ever seen in the history of that locality. Never had anyone seen her in such a condition. All knew her as a decent, educated girl studying Arts in the government college for women. The boys - mostly undergraduates and graduates - of the locality would describe her as a rare beauty. And as a tribute to her beauty, they would call her as a marriageable stuff. In local lexicon of the boys, a marriageable stuff was a girl with whom one should fall in love and marry as soon as possible.

No one had any gossip about her. No one had seen her talking to strangers. For the boys this was a sign of decency.

She was from a middle class family. Her father was a teacher, and her two brothers ran grocery shops. And she was studying history. She was the only daughter of her parents. This was the only history the boys knew about her.

So it was strange sight for them to see her running like this - barefoot, covering her half-face with duppata in a hot summer of June in Kashmir of 1990s. It was an unbelievable view for the boys. They had never imagined that they would one day see her running on a dusty road of the locality and that too without her shoes on. But more shocking for them was the way she would stop people and ask them about the identity of the militant, who had been killed in the encounter in a neighbouring locality.

A militant had died about half a kilometre away from the girl’s residence after a brief encounter with the border security force personnel. People of the area including women and girls were walking in ones, twos and threes towards the encounter sight to have the last glimpse of the militant. Nothing was unusual about it. But her run was abnormal. It was a mad run. She would ask elderly people coming from the opposite side, “who was martyred?” They would say “Dapaan Maqsood gov shaheed.”

“Dapaan Maqsood gov shaheed,” she would mutter it and move on.

She kept her pace untill she saw a teenager of her locality. “Who was martyred? she blurted out again. 

“Maqsood,” said the teenager.

And with it she stopped, sat down and cried. The boys say that this lasted for a few moments. Soon she stood up, wiped out her tears with her dupptta and ran back towards her house.

Later the teenager told the boys that she and Maqsood had studied in the same school. And they were in love with each other.

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