Memories Sustain

By Shabia Fazal


9th July, 1993 – 12:30 PM

With the noise of fire guns and teargas in the valley of Kashmir, Mrs Ruby Fazal gave birth to her first daughter in Lal Ded Hospital, Srinagar. Yes, that was me, Shabia! The reason I started with mentioning the fire guns is due to my continuous association with it! Oh calm down! I’m not related to any group or so, it is just my mom who has never let me forget my ‘birth’ day. Being blessed (bane) with anger issues and bold voice, my mom always has her favourite statement ready: Che chak na goliyan manz zaamich (you’re born during bullet firings).

Whenever my voice increases its volume and anger loses its patience, my mother comes up with this line! Being frank, I don’t see it as a reason of being upset. It makes me feel a little related to the time when Kashmir tehreek (freedom movement) was at its peak, which excites me.

I don’t have a specific date to add on to my Kashmir diary except for my birth date as I have never stayed back in Kashmir in a full-fledged manner, a short vacation during summer holidays ‘would do it all’.

Kashmir surely is my birth place but as they say, second home is equally closer to the heart! That’s right Dil walo ki Dilli!

New Delhi 1994 – April 2011

My shift to New Delhi was almost after 8-10 months after my birth. I don’t exactly remember my stay in Jangpura as we later shifted to Jamia. I still say, Jamia is my first love, a love that is irreplaceable. Jamia is said to be a sister concern of Old Delhi. Funny right? Chill! This is what people use to say. The same hype and glow around and I grew up there, in between those rowdy colony mates and few obedient school friends.

The best part of living in Jamia was the festival of Eid! I think I was just 4 years old when this incident took place. I decided to follow my uncle and dad without informing anyone at home. I was angry at them for not taking me along to my cousin’s place for Eid celebration, so i thought why not do it myself. The best part is yet to come, with all the following happening I lost my way! Calm down, I didn’t cry, besides I decided to go to the nearby mosque which I remembered due to my grandfather. While everyone was looking out for me, I was enjoying Cadbury Gems which the Mosque Imam had bought for me (he knew me) and had already informed my tensed family. I never understood why my friends and cousins use to call me Lady Gunda, but now when I recollect all these memories I get a clearer picture.

To everyone’s surprise I studied in a convent school. Mind you, I still take a lot of pride in being a part of Mater Dei School. It was like you had already won the race without even participating. Yes, that is the attitude of every convent student. Schools bring in blessings called holidays, which I use to enjoy the most!

Every summer holiday was a call from our personal heaven. Being a foodie by birth, the most exciting thing about visiting Kashmir were weddings! Not even giving a second thought over relations, we cousins use to jump into the wedding party. Unlike today, photos didn’t have much importance except for the bride and groom, but for us it was only Wazwan. A love for Wazwan can never be lessened, it increases every year. Going back to Delhi after these short holidays use to be heart breaking, from the climate to environment everything would change.

When coming back, Delhi would hold us tight in its arms. Love for Delhi was unconditional. From Lajpat Nagar to Khan Market, the brightness was never dim. My visit to Janpath for shopping made me an expert in the market of bargaining. From imported bags to Mandira Bedi’s jewellery, everything used to be available at the price you demanded. Where Janpath had local food corners, Connaught Place was the HiFi one! Our family business was in Janpath and Connaught Place, so our weekend visits use to be due. Remember the famous Aryan music band in early 2000s? I had a chance of meeting them, actually dancing with them. Thanks to Connaught Place and my Dad’s shop.

Every minute detail is there in the back of my mind. I gave Delhi my 18 years, memories of a lifetime. A life in Delhi is a total different experience: you live in a world of mixed culture, dominance, passion, excitement and much more. There is no ending to an event, it just goes on. But destiny had another story to show. While I was comforting myself with this hip-hop life of Delhi, a new city had already opened its doors!

My 3rd home was waiting, not with open arms but with loads of tension and pressure. This city has taught me a lot, the reason of my confidence, experience and passion, all is due to this place. It made me understand the meaning of life, it’s not just about materialistic beings but about finding the real ‘you’. Little dramatic, isn’t it? Yes, that is Chennai!

28th April 2011- 4:05 PM

My travel started to the Namma city! I had just written my 12th board exam, and now was sitting in the train waiting for a new journey to start. Initially there was no warm welcome as college admissions were waiting. Just as Harry Potter at 93/4 platform waited to kick start his new journey at Hogwarts.

June 2011

There wasn’t much difference in the climate, the sun was just same! Over the top there were college admissions waiting for me, Wcc, ETHIRAJ & Stella. I came out as an Ethirajan! This college gave a lot to learn, a whole new set of experiences. From being an editor of the college department magazine ‘Scrambler’ to secretary of department, all these experiences might seem small, but each level had a lesson to teach. From handling accounts during ‘Scrambler’ days to being the winner of Sport’s day. Made friends and mates, all of them had a special relation which I still cherish. Colleges are similar to schools as they also bring in summer holidays and as I said every holiday seemed like Kashmir was calling us.

June 2013

Bhaijan’s wedding took place! Where I was still in shock that he was getting married, his wedding was definitely one of my favourite. This was a typical Kashmiri wedding, the ‘paaniyaar’(among relations) type. From mehandiraat to reception, it was a complete mixture. Confusion was there, but fun was more.

The after parties were the best. From Pari Mahal to Foreshore road, it was the first time I saw Kashmir with open heart.

The year 2013 cannot be forgotten; I lost my grandfather, my mentor who had taught us to live life without any regrets.

July 2014

A year was complete. I was done with my graduation; all those mixed emotions came in as uninvited guests. Where everyone was going out to study I decided to stay back in this city. Doing my post graduation was the obvious plan but where and what, was the question! The University of Madras was my next destination. After a really long time I was shifting in to a co-ed institution. At this level, I would say it doesn’t matter, but parents always have that doubt in their mind.

A new chapter in life was going to start. The expectations were not that of a movie kind, as now as an individual I had understood the truth. Wait it’s not so serious, I am talking about the sudden change in life, the transport. Yes, this is a very important word in every student’s life. During graduation days I had an opportunity of being pampered by my father and friends with regards to the transport business but now my only option was bus!  MTC buses, I don’t how to describe them. They’re both your friend as well as enemy. They sometimes drop you home safely and sometimes you need to pray to reach home.

University got me new friends and introduced me to a wider perspective of life.


As they say Kashmir to Kanyakumari, my life swung from here to there. I did experience halts, few good and few bad but to stay satisfied one must enjoy! With one year still left in my masters, I have another halt in my birth city Kashmir. Excitement is there, which is been followed by nervousness. The idea of balancing two different lifestyles is not easy, but again I have an excellent opportunity of cherishing it. I still have loads to add, but first I would like to stay back, enjoy and welcome Panun Kashir back into my heart.

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