And I'm inspired to write this after reading ZGM, who was senior to me in KU
FLASHBACK BY MOHAMAD AMIN DAR
Long back I was putting up in downtown with my parents. Life those days was easy and calm. I was in 7th class, in the year 1967, in Govt. high school, Chattabal. Carefree, yet I was very focused on my studies. Teachers those days were highly dedicated. One of my teachers told the class to write questions in red-ink, and answers in blue.
I asked my mother to give me money for buying red-ink and also explained to her why it was required. In those days money was rarely given to children. My father was a clerk in a central govt. department but he had to feed many mouths as we were living in a joint family of 25 members and two-third of the family were either school going or college going children. So getting pocket money easily was a herculean task for us. Anyhow the genuine expenditure was no problem with us. My mother gave me 5 paisa to buy red-ink pill - Mil Chaet. as it was commonly called those days. After sipping my 2 mug full of salt tea with Kashmiri ‘chochworu’ I hastened to buy red ‘“Milli Chaat”’ from Safa kadal. In those days one bookseller in the area namely “Ibrahim book seller” as he was commonly called by school children; was catering to the school book needs of all students from Nawa Kadal to Veir Chattabal ward Eid Gah , Chattabal etc; a big paragana. There was no other book seller to my knowledge in the area these days.
All other book sellers like Ali Mohd & sons, Kapoor Brothers etc were in Habba Kadal area those days.
I rushed to Ibrahim sahib’s shop, the lone bookseller in the vicinity. To my despair Ibrahim sahib was not was not at his shop; there was another person probably his son. I was disappointed to learn that none was available with him. Imagine my disappointment at the hands of this little rogue when he gave me stark reply that ‘Red “Milli Chaat”’ has exhausted. He curiously looked at drawer but could find none. I retraced my foot steps in great agony and shock but soon an idea flashed my mind – why not try with other shop keepers. I went from shop to shop through Nalbanpora shop-line but the reply at every shop was - No. I crossed Nalbanpora bridge, walked down the lane towards Chattabal Bazar. “Mohammad Lone shop” was famous those days. Those were glorious days of this market. Entire traffic going to Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara etc would pass through this street. Mohammad Lone searched the drawer to his right, and told me gently – Son, it has finished. With a broken heart I walked home. But I still kept on trying on way back. On the left was Dood Ganga flowing with its crystal clear waters. Alas this river is now a filthy drain. I remember how school children would swim across Dood Ganga when Jehlum would be in floods.
I went from shop to shop but failed to get my thing. if it were today I would have definitely stoned all the shops. But milieu of those days was different. I just did nothing except a naïve small research as a child. When I was still some 100 meters away from my home I smell charas . I wondered how these old people would arrange this from market when I cannot get “Mil Chaat”. So I completely forgot my “Mil Chaet” and my home work, and set to find out from BataBoun to my house a distance of 500 meteres. I asked around three shopkeepers if Dana was available with them. All replied in hush hush manner in the affirmative looking right and left first. Probably they were afraid of police. I reached one big shop commonly called ‘Qadir Kuta’ by locals. When I made a query from him for Dana he immediately opened a red-box originally meant for mantle of kerosene light lamps. This mantle box was full of of charas. It was first time I saw the color of charas and felt its smell. Till that time I had only heard of it. He picked 2 pieces and asked for 25 paisa. I said I have only 5 paisa. He picked a small piece and told me to take the small piece. I said but I have to get my “Mil Chaet” first, I can’t part with my 5 paisa. No sooner did I say this that he was furious and reprimanded me. I took to heels. I was wondering why such a large number of shopkeepers keep stocks of charas instead of “Mil Chaet” which is so essential for students. I could find no answer as a child till I grew up
Shopkeepers selling drugs, and other road vendors, are reportedly regularly paying Hafta or Mahina. I do not know how otherwise this illegal trade would flourish in Srinagar. Same may be the story of Dana sale also. As per conservative estimates Rs.25 crore Hafta is paid monthly by illegal road vendors, shopkeepers selling drugs to Police men/SMC/Drug Inspectors/Electric Linemen in city Srinagar.
When I reached school next day it was probably 4th period that the red and blue teacher would come. The respected teacher was none else than my favorite Shri Girdhari Lal ji. He saw my note book neatly written. Questions were not in red ink. He asked me why I did not write the questions in red ink. I replied I could not get red ink pill as it was not available with Ibrahim book seller. “Why did you not get it from some other shop”, he roared like a lion. Sir it was not available at any shop in Chattabal market. He just stuck his stick lightly on my left arm saying why I did not go to Kapoor’s shop at Habba Kadal. It was not far away from your home. I had no answer to his reasoning now. I kept mum. Then he remarked, “Do you not know that La “Mil Chaet” can’t be made available by Muslim shopkeeper. It is only available with Kapoor’s shop. Next time go there and get it”. I simply complied with his orders next day. I learnt to write my questions in red ink always thereafter.
But alas when I would ask my question ‘in red’ from colleagues and seniors they would call me rebellious and my seniors would always push me to wall while my colleagues and subordinates would admire my courage.
I salute my teacher Girdhari Lal ji who taught me to write questions in red.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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