By: Shams Irfan
On 30th of April, just when the day’s sun was about to set on the vast horizon shadowing historic Jamia Masjid, a 26-year-old youth Bashir Ahmad Bhat fell to the bullets fired by CRPF men on a group of youngsters who had allegedly pelted stones on them.
Just before the first bullet pierced his young athletic body, nobody knew who Bashir was or how he had spent his 26 years of life. He was just another restless soul living his life under the looming threat of death that Kashmir skies carry. There was nothing distinct in his appearance that would have hinted his near ones of his impending fate. He was probably as happy-go-lucky kind of youngsters as other people of his age are. He too would have planned his future as we all do. But as the first bullet kissed his fair skin sending out a fountain of youthful blood, he was no longer an unknown Bashir. He was our Bashir. He was one among us who died too young and too unceremoniously. His last words, before he closed his eyes forever were: I want to see my mother!
As Bashir was bought home dead to his heartbroken mother and soon-to-be-married sisters, entire Kashmir was into mourning. The sky above reddened and the wind which still smelled of mustard flowers, blew violently, as if mourning in anger!
By the time Bashir’s body was lowered in the grave with all his dreams and youthful commitments, a sad scene was enacted not so far away.
It was another set of youngsters who upon learning about the death of Bashir and possibility of spill over of anger, left their ‘peaceful’ abodes to spend some quite and calm moments amidst scenic locals. All they cared about was availability of rooms at Pahalgham and Gulmarg at such an odd hour. Had they known about Bashir’s death beforehand they would have made better arrangements. While the night passed quite slowly for Bashir’s mother, father and sisters, it was a melange of festivity for the ‘lucky few’. As Bashir’s childhood friends assembled at his dimly lit house to unsuccessfully console his parents, lights danced on the Lidder water.
Sitting by the bonfire the ‘lucky few’ shared stories of atrocities that they have heard from their elders. Their faces lit by the golden fire, and the air filled by smoke raising from the dead wood, irritated them the most.
On the far end of earth, another set of youngsters braved tear shells, smoke, batons to carry their friend Bashir’s body to his final resting place. None of them complained.
How life and death, merriment and pain, anger and irritation, co-exist on the same stretch of land is mystery in itself.
As the night gave way to day again, Bashir’s small family consoled each other amidst sobs. There is no way one can understand their pain. Meanwhile, in Pahalgham it is breakfast time as the air from across the mountains fails to carry the helplessness and frustration of Bashir’s family. The life will go on as it had when Bashir was alive, and it will still when he is no more.
In the curfewed Nawabazar, a small boy shouted from the window at the men in uniform guarding the deserted roads, “I am Bashir. Kill me too.”
But the night has passed, so has the anger, it seems!