Good old days
That was the time of strong social bonds and family ties
FOOTPRINTS BY NIGHAT HAFIZ
Memories never die forever. Desires, thoughts and strivings that we do not require in our conscious field are pushed back and down to the level of repression. Surprisingly they are seldom forgotten completely. With a little cue or clue; experiences that have been ignored and forgotten amaze us with their freshness of detail when they resurrect. We have a tremendous power to remember, perceive, imagine and retrieve, minute details related to affective states, sensory and other experiences. We remember pitches and rhythm, tones and hues, volumes and velocities in their original experienced form. We feel tastes on tongue, sense smells in olfaction and see colors with tone and texture. Experiences are powerful constructs that take us to the memory lane. It gratifies us with regression. Sometimes a desire to travel back in time and relive all those precious moments emerge so strongly that we become the children of past. Peeling off layers and digging out my personal unconscious, I remember that in our times schools and colleges were considered as auspicious spaces. Human beings of a given society would breathe and inhale knowledge through intellectual activities. Society was vibrant and alive to share roles and responsibilities. No blame games were played by members of society and fiber of modesty was maintained by all. Insensitivities, helplessness and dead attitude had yet to become part of social culture. People were afraid of Tarke-mawalat [social isolation], Mohalle-muzher [Expulsion from neighborhood] and Teen-wayun [beating drums of shame], the various defensive techniques adopted by the society to rectify any wrong doing by its members. Educational institutions were treated as sacred seats of learning and not sources of shameless scandals. There were few schools and fewer colleges around. Wild sprouting and mushroom cultivation of inefficient private and independent schools with only eyes on revenue was not listed among the aims of education. It was involved in senses being exposed to experiences which could enhance mental capabilities of younger generation to achieve ways for mature life. Learning was customized to meet the demands of life rather than make mints and machines out of human beings.
Before enrollment, we were put to school at home as a preparatory set for proper schooling. Playing with some Montessori type colored objects, counting dots and making music with my two little hands on a colored beaded slate remains a treasure of experience sealed loosely in my unconscious. I do not remember much from my Kindergarten school days but feel that it was a beginning for the process of being called educated. Our school in Bandipora was located in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood near Mir Mohalla. The middle [elementary] school was surrounded by huge walnut trees and tantalizing, transparent springs and gushing little waterfalls, with a limited number of teachers and students it would buzz with activities all the time. Kareem Bibi, a boatman’s daughter, living in a Donga [residential boat] and perhaps the only educated person from boatman community those days, was our head –mistress. I am not sure about the designations in official use on paper but headmistress, second mistress and third mistress was the hierarchical order adopted by all government run schools those days.
It was more a play way than a school for me, of all the activities that were involved with basic schooling I liked writing on Mushiq [tablet made of wood], crushing and rubbing Neej [greens], moher deun [polishing] and rule din [making lines] on it. We would polish it with a piece of broken cup or glass and sing songs loud and lousy. The song we often repeated was: “Shangir che man che Bandporis zan che”[cheer up! Compete! Worry not! We are known to the people of Bandipora]. It was fun writing on cutting board type of tablet and an efficient and graceful method to improve handwriting. It involved hard work, concentration, head and hand coordination through eye contact. No printed cursive hand books, no lessons and tips on art of hand writing were available in that rural set up yet people could write most efficiently and draw artistically.
While returning from school we would often crisscross Nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals walking briskly on roads and lanes with rare and indigenous cattle species, it would look a scene from Robin Hood series. Magically, men, women, children, cattle, dogs and chicken, all would follow a pace with melodic motion. Women with ethnic apparel, bead strings, anklets and rich in detail clothes and sharp features would look like fairies on earth. Little did we understand at that time that the ethnic Gujjar women were over burdened with work, were supposed to tend their herd, walk long distances, wash and cook on temporary campsites, give birth to children on roads sides and carry on with their journeys to far flung areas with their neonates. I remember music would be in the air with their movement. We always liked their traditionally different music; it had a cocktail effect of pain, pathos and joy.
Down thirty steps our hut was a beautiful bungalow that remains no less than an elegant image of white house in my imagination. An idyllic setting in green surroundings, white as snow, it was allotted to then Divisional Forest Officer Ghulam Naqishband Sahab, who lived there with his family. I remember his mother Begum Habiba Sadder-ud-din with crisp cotton suits and sister Aisha Siddiqa, an affectionate person with an equally affectionate attitude towards us. In a way she was our first live role model to be followed later in life. She would shower us with love and affection and would light up our small world with her sweet smile. Apart from her, the area around the bungalow had added attractions for us. It had two huge chestnut trees, blackberry, strawberry bushes and beds spread over its lawns. In our times blackberry and apple meant fruits only that we enjoyed to eat.
While passing through complex network and stages of apperception my fragile experiences get mingled with later impressions when I try to authenticate my imprints. To produce images according to my present requirements seems to be more combined act of present and past rather than a pure past experience. There were no noise polluted television channels available in our childhood. We had no cartoon channels, no Sponge Bob, no Dora and no Pink Panther. Other than word of mouth radio with feeble frequencies was the only source for news. One day, while sipping Nounchai [green salt tea] in our courtyard and watching sapphire blue waters of Wular lake, Saif-ullah came with a breaking news.”Dapan huz Shiekh Sab neukh ratieth’ (Shiekh Sahab has been arrested). At that time, it was beyond my comprehension but visualized later in life that Sheikh Sahab was dismissed as prime minister by then Sadre-Riyasat [constitutional head of state] Dr. Karan Singh and Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad was appointed as prime minister. Politics had taken over loyalty and friendship in a bid for power. The fire had started burning on its own, slowly and steadily with a process of self ignition.
(Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 11 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 11 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OPINION
‘Sarpanchs, Panchs Join PC In North Kashmir’
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, Apr 11: Chairman of Peoples Conference Sajad Lone on Wednesday advised the ruling National Conference and Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to try and redefine the role of MLA and stop More
- Srinagar City
AT a time when the dog menace has assumed alarming proportions and over a dozen fell prey to deadly bites almost everyday in this summer Capital, there’s a single lawyer pleading the case of humans while More
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Jammu, Apr 11: The recently released report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the State Motor Vehicle Department in JK for failure to formulate a security policy. It states that More
- South Asia
REZAUL H LASKAR\PTI
Islamabad, Apr 11: Five days after a huge avalanche buried their camp in high mountains of the Karakoram range, army rescuers are yet to find any trace or bodies of 138 people missing in the calamity, More
Jolts measured 8.5, 8.2 on Richter scale
Banda Aceh/Bangkok, Apr 11: Two massive earthquakes off Indonesian waters today triggered fears of a devastating tsunami sending panic across the country and the nations along the Indian Ocean coast but More