I said Sunday was not my Sabbath day. Yes, it was not.
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
Sunday was not my Sabbath day. All schools, including Jabari-Chatahalls in the city remained closed on Sundays. It was day of rest for all the office goers. My father did not cycle his way to his office in Basant Bagh on this day. My uncle on this day did not walk to his office on the banks of Veth in front of Khanqah-e-Moula, grand hospice telling very vividly story about the advent of Islam in Kashmir. The grandeur of hospice even today narrates stories how seven hundred years back people where attracted to the new faith like moths to the taper. It tells a tale how a revolution took place and changed every shade of life land without a drop of blood.
My uncle office’s had also a tale to tell. It had seen humans being skinned alive like bark of a tree and then placed on hooks on the fourth bridge like sheep and goat in butcher’s shop. On the cusp of twentieth century it had seen men being drowned in sacks for raising their voice against tyrant tax system. It had also been witness to growing political consciousness of a nation that had been lulled into inertness and lethargy for couple of centuries. It was here in early thirties of the past century that hundreds of boats housing thousands of political workers from Dedayal to Doda, Hunza to Handawara and Mirpur to Nobra had remained anchored for three days. These men had gathered here to launch the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, first organization for launching struggle for ending tyrant autocratic rule and ushering in the people’s rule.
Oh! I said Sunday was not my Sabbath day. Yes, it was not. My school and over a dozen of its branches all over the city were the only schools that observed Friday as a holiday. This holiday on Friday made me feel pride. It gave me and my schoolmates a distinct identity- a sense of belonging to particular culture that despite odds had thrived in this land during past seven centuries. Perhaps this sense later on had something to do with development of our political consciousness nay overall personality.
This sense of identity had brought us closer to the multitude of people in our part of society. Ours was not an elitist but a plebian society. Friday was also Sabbath day for artisans, craftsmen, carpet weavers, wood carvers, needle workers, shawl makers, darners, blacksmiths, coppersmiths, shoe makers and menders, washer men, masons, carpenters and laborers.
Those days Fridays where not melancholic but full of mirth. Everything seemed wrapped up in brightness and joviality. Whenever I look back, I start believing that perhaps sun then shined brighter than it is today. It was Ismail, the school peon who set Friday mood for me and my pals on Thursday by hitting the school gong at four, ferociously. No sooner we left the school through the main gate; we took a serpentine course through small lanes to our home. And waiving our ‘takhtiees” in the air we often cried louder – sometimes nick naming a friend and provoking him to the hilt, sometimes raising slogans that were popular in our childhood and many a time I and my friends entered the Jamia Masjid not for saying Asar prayers but for enjoying the splashes from the fountain in the middle of the mosque. We enjoyed chasing rock pigeons sipping water from the small brook vivisecting the mosque lawn. We enjoyed crying louder inside the desolate eastern wing of the mosque for hearing echoes of our own voice…the louder the echo more glee it brought to us. But on being spotted whistling inside the mosque we often earned the wrath of the lone caretaker or Muzzein perhaps carrying Jami as last name.
Friday mornings in our locality had its own aura of festivity. There were hardly any elites in our mohalla it was an abode of working class. And Friday was the D-day for them. I very vividly remember the scenes in the backyard of our house. Many a boy after having a bath with cold water would stand in sun outside their homes in the open. Mostly these boys changed their clothes on Fridays. And draped in washed clothes they would often apply mustard oil profusely to their thick black hair. More fashionable would apply phillia cheep perfumed oil. Most of them would then comb their hair in the style of matinee idol Dilip Kumar. I remember a friend of mine having thick tufts of curly hair believed that his hair matched those of film actor Shami Kapoor. For combing his hair he would often visit barber’s shop- and enquire from his friends if he looked like Shami Kapoor or Raj Kapoor. I am amazed why most of the barbers’ shops those days were named as hair cutting saloons…
Friday was day of excursion for majority of working class families in our locality. And most popular spot for excursion was one or other shrine outside the city. Men, women and children dressed in their best, loaded with baskets containing best cuisines and other food items would start moving out of their homes by ten. I remember many would prefer a boat journey to Hazratbal shrine. They would walk down to Khanyar or Sadia Kadal to take a boat to the shrine. It used to be day of great enjoyment to children and women alike. And mostly people returned to their homes after dusk only.
Friday was day of cinema also for many in our locality. In all the four cinemas in the city new films would be screened on this day only. I remember many an artisan and craftsmen going in big groups for watching films on this day. It was the only entertainment that this class of people could afford.
I and my friends often chalked out our Friday programs after our school on Thursdays. Mostly there was no tuition on Fridays. Two best pastimes for me and my friends were cycling and cricket. After washing my cycle and oiling its chain, I joined my friends at the main crossing of our locality for undertaking long rides outside the city.
In the cultural landscape of Kashmir Friday has an iconic place…
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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