A Tribute to my MOTHER
The house had been stripped of everything but still it appeared to me a treasure of sweet memories, faded images of young and old, living and dead
MEMORY BY INDU RAINA
Twenty two years is a long time to stay away from a place one loved more than one’s life. Such was my feeling while walking through the bazaars of Srinagar Downtown and looking for the familiar land marks especially the shrine like place you would call your “Malyun”.
You know mother, I happened to visit the place last year. That chemist shop is burnt and so is the abode of old “Khatjee”. Your friends Ashe and Zooni have lost their sons in the turmoil and thus have no one to look after them in their old age. The Dhobis no longer wash clothes on the ghats of the Jhelum due to unknown fear, nor do children play anymore; instead hide themselves in closed chambers for safety. Their dark circled eyes, with confused and confounded looks speak tales of terror and fright. And the old folk lament on their lost game, nay, a movement, which spread like wild fire and in which their joy and peace turned into ashes.
Across the river, I ventured to visit your birth place. The scene was too desolate to be described. The huge house on the river bank, over hundred years old and once blooming like a spring rose, has turned into ruins. All the doors, windows, the roof as also the wooden balconies with exquisite carving done over a century back are all burnt yet the structure stands as a monument and a reminder of the times gone by. For a moment, I felt that the inmates were, as usual, looking at me from the windows with usual greetings as in the past* When I stepped inside the house it seemed as if some calamity had befallen. No soul around. As I trod further clearing the cobwebs, I spotted the place near the window where you would always sit. Alas ! Your favourite treasured Almirah was no more there. Only a vacant space left in the wall. It was a sentimental loss. The house had been stripped of everything but still it appeared to me a treasure of sweet memories, faded images of young and old, living and dead. I got a feeling of being in the company of good spirits. Paying my salutations I moved out of the house quite dismayed and dejected with feeling that I would not come here again, I wanted to cry to lighten my heart but instead sank in a deep sea of thoughts.
Mother, how sweet were those days when both of us while going in the boat, you would always put a wooden particle in my hair to wade off evil spirit of the river. Enroute, families of ducks would also wade along the boat, perhaps like us, they too used to visit their dear ones somewhere down the river. Their quacks filled the air with peculiar delight and serenity that I feel its echo even today after so many decades.
Do you remember, Mother, that lotus and its fruit bunch (Pambuch) floating in the river. Once, I pulled myself out of the boat to seize it but you held me back. How possessive you were. Near the main bridge, our boat once hit the Dhobi’s rock on which he would splash the water in a circular way making a rythemic sound with each stroke. I got scared and shrieked when the Dhobi said aloud “Khoch ma Khuda Kari Kher” - don’t be afraid, God is there to take care. How nice were those people, And when we reached near the temple, the virmillion coloured image of the idol reflected in the ripples of water beneath. And the mosque stood by its side whose towers would also reflect in the water. A sight to see. What a harmony and peace prevailed then and where has it all gone. Mother, once when we were going to your “Malyun” in the boat, another boat overtook us and it carried fruits and flowers. I pleaded with our boatman to row fast. He did so and called the girl by her pet name which echoed across the river. You purchased some fruit and flower she gave me lots. When I enquired about her name, she said “Heemal”, I really got nervous as on the previous night, you had narrated me the story of the legendary Heemal who was actually a serpent.
Again Heemal rowed fast singing melodiously. Its Trail seemed to follow her over a long distance. Mother, whenever you would visit your friends in Downtown, it was usually in the boat. I still remember the ringing of the temple bells, the celestial songs at “Arthi” time and the sweet Azan from the towers of mosques situated on the Jhelum river bank. The sweet noise would till the air making it pure and pious invoking a feeling in me to be nearer to God.
Oh. mother crossing the bridges on the river with people watching from the top was a great fun and pleasure for me. The small whirlpools going round and round would evoke lot of interest and young boys diving from the bridge railing into the river was very exciting. Everything is so vivid in my imagination as if it was only yesterday and not half a century back.
The moment, the boat would touch the bank, you would rush to your “Malyun” with me running behind. Lo and behold, your father sitting, as always, on the front window in his blue turban would welcome us in his loud voice. The house would be full of life. Playful noise and the shouts of kids, peals of laughter of young girls, chatting of women folk and the hot arguments of your dad’s friends at the game of cards. Our welcome used to be so warm accompanied by special delicious and nice food. Mother, before retiring to bed, you used to open your treasured Almirah. It was always a matter of suspense for me to know what it contained inside as you always guarded it with special care. Only once, you let me peep into it when I spotted a beautifully woven basket containing a lock of hair. Who did it belong to? You never told me till your last day. And thus will remain mystery for all my life.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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