Orphan brothers

by Syed Asma

A 12-year old boy greets this reporter in a submissive voice, sits in a chair, looks uncomfortable and rarely take his eyes off the floor. “Ishfaq does not talk much, he is a shy boy,” says his warden, Mohammed Ayub who is called Abuji by all the children in the orphanage.

Ishfaq Ahmed Deedadlives inBait tul Hilal,an orphanage run by Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Foundation. He lost both his parents in the year 2003. His father was seriously injured when he fell from a tree. Immediately after the incident Ishfaq’s mother had a heart attack that killed her. After a few months, Ishfaq’s father too could not bear the pain of his injuries and succumbed.

“He was brought here in November 2003 by one of our workers from Kupwara. He was six then,” says Ayub.

Ishfaq has a brother, Salim who is four years younger to him. He too lives in Srinagar but a few kilometers away from Ishfaq in a separate orphanage, Chinar Kashmir. Salim has been in Chinar since 2005, two years after Ishfaq came to Srinagar.

Salim was just three years old when he came to live in Chinar. Unlike his brother, he is described as a sharp, mischievous and naughty kid. He sometimes talks about his family,his mother and brother, though his memories are not very clear.

“He (Salim) used to say he has a brother named Ishfaq but till recently we did not know he lives in the city.”

It was not until 2009 the two kids were identified as brothers four years after living in Srinagar.

“We wanted them to meet each other and it happened on Eid in 2009,” says Ayub.

After coming back Salim started missing his brother. “It became hard for us to manage him for three to four days,” says the Mother at Salim’s Home.

Both the kids want to be together now but none of them wants to leave their present home. Each of them wants the other to join him.

Apart from their looks they share several things. Both of them pray five times a day. Salim prays for the mother and Mamus more, he says. Mamus are the other two helpers at Chinar.

Both of them are fond of cricket and Sri lanka is their favorite team. Ishfaq owns a bat and Salim is usually seenspinning the ball. “When I will grow older I will become a teacher and Salim and I will live together,” says Ishfaq feebly. Salim wants to become an engineer and says, “I like to build houses. I will build a big house of cement for me and bhai (Ishfaq).”

These kids have not been to their village since they came to the city. In summer vacations or on Eids, they either stay in their hostels or accompany the staff members when they visit their families.

They belong to Gujjar community in Hangnikoot, Ramhaal, Handwara. Their village is the last village on the Indian side of the LoC.Details about their family are hardly known and the memories of the kids are too faint to document.

Their father’s name is Mohammed Ismail Deedad, their mother’s name is Roshni. “Ismail had 20 kanalsof land and a housebut after his death his brother Mohammed Israel sold it all and migrated from the village. He has migrated to Imrad, Zachaldar where the kids’ parents are believed to be buried,” says Bashir Ahmed, district representative of J&K Yateem foundationin Kupwara.

“Now we will soon get these children registered in the Patwari’s records and have their PRC’s (Personal Resident Certificate) ready. This will later help them in their studies and may be in finding a job, as they belong to ST category,” Bashir adds. The two orphanages are making efforts to give the boys a feeling that they belong to each other.

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Syed Asma completed her masters in journalism from the Islamic University, Awantipore, in 2010. After working with Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Times, she joined Kashmir Life in February 2011. She covered politics, society, gender issues and the environment. In 2016, she left journalism to pursue her M Phil from the University of Kashmir. She is presently pursuing PhD.

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