Last year. On the cold evening of November. I had a very strange adventure. All that day, I had been walking about the Srinagar downtown trying to find new lodging for my friend. His earlier accommodation was damp. Since autumn, he had been meaning to move. He never hung on till spring in Srinagar. In the first place he wanted a separate tenement, not a room in other people’s logging. Secondly, he wanted a large one; and of course, it had to be at the same time, as cheap as possible.
I had been feeling unwell all day, and towards the sunset I felt really very ill. Something like a fever set in. Moreover, I had been all day long on my legs and was tired. Towards evening, just before it got dark, I was walking on the boulevard sideway path. I love the March sun in Srinagar, especially at sunset. In clear frosty weather, of course the whole boulevard suddenly glittered. All the houseboats suddenly seemed, as it were, to sparkle, and their multi-colour lamps—yellow-green colours illuminating; and for an instant, lose all the gloominess of nasty cold.
There was a new outlook, a new train of thought. It was wonderful what one ray of sunshine could do for the soul of man! By the time sunshine died away, the frost grew sharper, and began to nip one’s nose: the twilight deepened; gas flared from the shops. As I reached Nathu Sweets, the confectioner, I suddenly stood standstill and began staring at the side of hotels, though, I had a presentment that something extra-ordinary was going to happen to me. And, at the very instant, I saw a tourist with his dog walking on the opposite side. I remember quite well that I felt unpleasant sensation clutch at my heart. And, I could not myself have told what that sensation was.
When I sat on the parapet of boulevard, my friend began to talk and share his story of his past memoir with me. I still remember that evening like a fresh dream; the sky was serene blue with a few high white clouds. I put on a warm sweater under the tall Adidas jacket I bought from a local market in Srinagar a year back. I felt warm inside and was sure that cold would not attack me severely.
The evening’s freezing zephyr slapped, turned my face scarlet with cold, but feeling inside was still warm. He got a call from home, Anantnag. His brother was waiting for us at a distance with car to take us there.
As we set out for his place, we began to converse. He told me a story about a boy and girl who were in love and their parents – against the relation.
It was a fine relationship for couple of years until a boy one day sent marriage proposal to girl’s family. His proposal was turned down. The girl’s family couldn’t accept it due to some glaring reasons. In this way, the relation ended.
But one year after the break-up, the boy began spreading wrong[s] about girl. He tried to tarnish her image in and outside her locality. He threatened her family, saying “If you don’t accept my proposal, I won’t let her to marry with any other boy”!
This love-contempt drama continued until her parents decided to marry her off. But on the day of her marriage, the boy with his ruffian cohort entered into marriage reception to create ruckus and disrupt the marriage function. He threatened her family of dire consequences. Her father became hapless and negotiated with the boy on certain terms that he would pay him considerable amount to shut the matter. The poor father pleaded before him to handover all the documents related to girl including photographs. He also sought in writing from a boy that he wouldn’t create any sort of problem for her in future.
My friend further told me that there are many such cases happening in Kashmir where a girl has to pay for her mistakes of having relationship. And, how later boys exploit and take undo-advantage of girls’ ‘innocence’.
This story made me to think that late marriages are on rampant in valley. And this trust deficit might be one of the reasons of this menace, where there is always fear of a boy turn out to be a thug at the end of day and breaks relation or create such nasty problems in our society.
It may be true from girl’s end as well, but in a patriarch society, it is girl who has to bear burnt always.
(The author has done his post-graduation in peace and conflict studies from Islamic University of Science and technology Awantipora.)