A personal encounter
My Shame Was Writ Large On My Face
TRUTH BITES BY ABDUL REHMAN GANAI
Few years back I had the chance to visit old airfield for some personal work. The place being sensitive from the security point of view, one has to go through rigorous checking and scrutiny before entering into this area. At the outer main gate on Rangreth side it takes about half an hour to get entry pass, therefore I sat on a small wooden bench usually used by the sentry of the post at leisure time. Seeing me lonely, sitting on this half broken bench, one of the sentries approached me and started informal conversation about my being there, and the purpose of visiting the place.
Though there was no harm in this veiled investigation but in the middle of the conversation he asked me as to where from I had come. When I told him that I hail from Pampore, a famous town of valley situated at about 14 kms south of Srinagar city, he enquired whether it is the same place where stones are being dressed on the roadside of National Highway(his reference to Pantha Chowk) or where there are a good number of bat manufacturing units on the road (Halmula- Bijbehra). He seemed to be very much aware about these areas and had, as stated by him, performed his duties for a quite long time in those southern villages of the valley. However, I was taken aback, and felt ashamed as also furious, when he, in a very sarcastic tone, stated that in these areas he has seen women bathing in river Jehlum at many places. People have built big residential houses without bathrooms or latrine facilities and if at all any house has one, that too is made of kacha bricks and mud, covered with thatches of grass. “Badi Badi Kothian Lakhoon Ki Banaye Hai, Magar Latrin aur Bathroom nahin hain, aurtain Khaitoon may baithtey hain”. On this I retorted back and reminded him that outside Kashmir people also use to sit in open fields to ease themselves but his reply was more convincing and justified. “Well, no doubt there also people who sit in open fields to respond to the call of nature but those people don’t have huge buildings worth lakhs of rupees, as almost everyone here has. There – outside Kashmir - most of the people live in single storey two room sets or mud houses, so if they don’t afford bathroom that is quite understandable. But comparatively here in the valley people in villages spend lakhs on the construction of their houses but hesitate to spend few thousands on this basic necessity of life.
On hearing his comments, which unfortunately are open secret, my shame forced me to leave that place ignoring the importance of work for which I had come all along, walking from Rangreth about 2 kms in scorching heat of July. And while walking back to Rangreth (the nearest stop to get public transport facility) the sarcastic comments of this sepoy were echoing in my conscience; his words were storming my brain throughout my journey home “badey badey kothian banayee hain …….”
Abdul Rehman Ganai is
Secretary Skylight Higher Secondary School, Pampore, Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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