Fur Boot Makers
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
I don’t believe, I am that old. Nevertheless, since my toddling days, so much has changed that sometimes when I look back, I feel epochs far-off from my roots- from my immediate past. While walking through somber bazaars with stories of pain dripping from the ruinous surroundings- taking a journey down the memory lane is like travelling in an alien land bursting with laughter’s, reverberating with guffaws- playful children kicking, hitting and jostling, playing tip-cat, hop-scotch and hide and seek.
On seeing my childhood melted from the streets, the alleys, the lanes and the playgrounds, in search for continuity between the past and present I often sing in symphony with Alfred Tennyson:
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
So much has changed….”
But so powerfully, I am tethered to the past glory of my ornate cradle, my dreamland and my city that even from ‘margin fades’, it relives for me- as a great poet has said, ‘breeds lilacs out of the dead land, mixes memory and desire, stirs dull roots with spring rain’ of my love. Truly, everything about it in all its colors and shades comes to life for me --comes to life as a scintillatingly rainbow after drizzle from fog in the verdant green pastures of highland meadows.
A few days back while passing through lanes of my Mohalla I remembered my toddler days- I remembered my fur boots and whole range of activity in these lanes now desolately silent that buzzed during our childhood. I had an admiration; perhaps all children had a liking for wearing fur boots- seeing my feet and feet of my siblings looking like small rabbits filled my heart with mirth. On the onset of winter, my father or uncle got for us choicest of fur boots and caps made on order.
Many a fur boot maker families lived in our Mohalla and locality. Some had elaborate Karkhanas , with over dozen workers engaged in manufacturing of fur boots, fur caps, fur gloves and fur coats. These fur products during winters flooded the markets. I have no idea that if these fur products were exported to markets outside Kashmir or not but I do remember some shops in uptown displaying exquisitely made long fur boots in their shops and showrooms- these we called as Meema Boots. Some handicrafts exporters often visited Karkhanas in our locality for ordering manufacturing of fur boots. Known for their piety and religiosity the fur boot makers of our Mohalla were overwhelmingly devotees of Mirwaiz Yusuf Saib. Hardly having joined any school or seminary some of them surprisingly had acquired religious scholarship. They not led the prayers in various mosques but also delivered sermons on the Quran and Sunnah from the pulpits- I still remember name of a fur boot maker that led prayers in our mosque. It were not only the fur boot makers in our locality that had graduated to low profile religious leaders but I remember in another Mohalla of our locality there was family of traditional glass bangle makers and coppersmiths known for religious scholarship. Many from this industrious family led Friday prayers in various mosques in and around the city. The legendry image of Mama Saib, with long white flowing beard still lives in my memory, he delivered sermons on Friday in mosque near Pandan in our locality and hundreds people thronged the mosques…these were undoubtedly legendry commoners who played pioneering role in spreading message of Allah.
My uncle often visited a fur boot maker just half a kilometer from our home. His sparkling white face and sunken eyes were suggestive that this commoner was no ordinary soul- but a Dervish. On many an occasions I accompanied my uncle to the workplace of this Dervish- his name was Abdul Rehman Malik and popularly he was known as Rehman Saib. He remained very busy with making fur boots- I always spotted my uncle his friends, for their position in government enjoying higher social status squatting with other devotees on old mats. Sometimes, a young singer, who later on emerged as top folk singer visited Rehaman Saib- and sang some devotional songs…
Ours was a city of divinity, where commoners made a difference.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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