My grandpa’s fault!

A black and white framed photograph of a person hung on one of its walls. It was early 90s and the picture was much discussed in our family. “This should be removed” everyone would suggest our family.
The person in the picture was cheerfully smiling at everybody. Honestly, I thought he was God. I didn’t even ask anyone. It was quite understood. He looked warm, radiant and too big.
It was a busy day, a lot was discussed when my three uncles broke the frame of picture, took it out, rolled it and hid it somewhere in the house without letting the children know about it. That was the day when I heard the name of this man; they would call him Sheikh Saeb. It was Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
With time I came to know many things about him from my family.
My mother told me that everyday my grandfather would light an incense stick and fix it in the base of its frame. Whenever the door was opened, the fragrance would spread in the whole house. He would keep keys behind the picture. He believed it to be safest place for them. My mother recalls.
On wedding of my parents, Sheikh Abdullah was the chief guest. Entire neighbourhood was decorated in his reception. The leftovers from his food were distributed among the family.
My younger uncle, in his childhood had some serious cardiac problem and had to undergo an open heart surgery in Delhi at the age of 10. The family recalls that there were very bleak chances of his survival. Before leaving for Delhi, my grand father had taken him to Abdullah’s house for his blessings. Luckily my uncle survived. All his life my grandfather believed that he survived because of the blessings and insisted my uncle to visit his grave on Fridays.  
My grandfather hardly allowed any female member of the house to move out. But my mother says that on the death of sheikh Abdullah he insisted her to pay visit to the place where Sheikh Abdullah was kept for last glimpse. He made sure that each member of his family mourns over his death.
I have learned all this from my parents because my grandfather had long buried his past and never talked about it. It was more frustration than fear due to changed political scenario, I think. During my entire childhood I was strongly advised not to speak about my grandfather’s past or Sheikh Abdullah or God forbid association between the two. The urge to boast of my grandfather’s glorious past could never overcome those warnings.
My family feared it would invite the wrath from some quarters. But had my grandfather done anything wrong? Was he a traitor or like that? He had been part of the struggle long before the present generation took it to themselves. He had dutifully played his role and fought for the beloved nation in a manner acceptable at that time.
Then why was it that a man who had given up all his comforts for the freedom of his nation prohibited his three young sons for joining any militant organization. Perhaps he was apprehensive that his sons would be deceived the same way he once was, because they too were like him. They too didn’t know politics. And like their father they could be easily duped.
The man my grandfather worshipped made him bow his head in disgrace. But it is not him alone, I think. Every common Kashmiri like me, I believe feels the same betrayal because we work for individuals and not for the cause. Can’t it be the other way round?


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