In a span of just two decades sixty-five-year old Noorie saw five members of her family die in bizarre circumstances, one after another. Rahiba R Parveen narrates her painful journey and quest for peace
Death of a family member often shatters the whole family but when a single person helplessly watches five members of the family being buried, one after another, the pain becomes unfathomable.
This is exactly what 65 year old Noorie has gone through. Losing her husband and three of her children one by one has made Noorie the last surviving member of her husband’s old decrepit house in Srinagar’s Aali Kadal locality.
Noorie has lost her husband, a seven year old daughter, and two teenage sons. Besides, she also lost her brother, her sole economic support.
Her eyes, shining bright may be of grief and the tears that have flown down over the years, narrate the tale of a grief stricken mother, an unfortunate wife and a crest fallen sister.
She, in the years of solitude, has been telling the harrowing tale of her heart to the barren walls of her one-storey house.
Tragedy first struck Noorie in early nineties, while the valley was witnessing an armed militancy.
Her 7-year-old daughter, Maimoona, was rushed to hospital after she complained of pain, only to return dead.
That was the beginning of the plague, called death, which would over the years leave Noorie crying and wailing for her family members.
She laments that she needed a daughter in old age to hold her hand. “I have multiple ailments and I often have to visit hospitals and go through check up’s,” says Noorie, “I wish my daughter was around to be with me.”
Her 17-year-old son, Javed, was to follow. His death was as mysterious as his sister’s. He too was briefly hospitalized for some minor ailment, before he died.
“He had just passed his matriculation when death snatched him from me.”
Noorie every now and then imagines that her sons have come alive. A knock at her door and her heart leaps with joy one moment, only to realize the other moment that they have been long dead.
“Yesterday, there was a street vendor who sold bangles. I thought, he was Bashir, my elder son,” says Noorie, “He might have been doing the same work, only if he was alive.”
Noorie had somehow learnt to live without her two lost children. But little did she know what fate had in store for her.
It was 2010 when death came visiting again and within a span of just two months took 3 more members of Noorie’s family away. First to go was her elder son, 38 year old Bashir, who had been battling diabetes for quite a while.
“Bashir was hospitalized for more than two months,” recalls Noorie, “He stopped talking to us 19 days before he left for heaven.”
Within fifteen days of Bashir’s death Noorie’s brother, Ghulam Nabi, a pillar of support for her emotionally as well as financially, left for his heavenly abode.
She was still in mourning and trying to recuperate the death of her son and her brother when her 65 year old husband Muhammad Ismail Bhat succumbed to a cardiac arrest. Her husband died within a month of her brother’s death.
Bhat worked as a salesman at a local shop and earned a meagre sum to support his family. With both her sources of income, her brother and her husband, gone Noorie was left grieving and penniless.
Ever since Noorie’s second brother, 45 year old Ghulam Mohammad Wani, has been a helping hand of sorts. “At least he feeds me,” says Noorie, “he cannot do anything more than that however.”
Wani earns mere 2500 Rupees on a monthly basis, working as a helper at a local shop. “We don’t have any hopes. We are just living for each other,” says Wani, “I come to see her during afternoons to check if she is alive.”
Noorie’s life has been a long struggle; however her relatives and the people who should have come forward to her rescue have given her a cold shoulder.
People have time and again assured her of help but ‘Easier said than done’, has been the best phrase to describe their attitude towards her.
“No one has come forward to see what I eat and how I manage through this loneliness,” Noorie says and wipes her eyes.
Noorie is depressed but acutely aware of the societal repercussions of being a woman living all alone. “I fear to visit my neighbours and relatives,” laments Noorie, “I don’t want anyone to blame me of any shameful things as everyone knows that I am financially and otherwise dependent,” she says.
Wani says, for them all doors are closed. They cannot think of asking for economical help from the government. “Government asks for facts and circumstance to give compensation for dead but our case is unfortunate,” he said.
But they tried to approach a National Conference minister’s wife, who lives in the neighbourhood, but help is yet to come.