Halo Around Jailed Leaders

They meant hope in a sea of hopelessness



"There is a very life in our despair”, this line of Lord Byron  resounded in my mind while walking through the lanes of my birth place.   Like a blacksmith’s maul, it continuously hammered my mind. I do not know, if it was  the crumbling heritage- changing beyond recognition façade of the Astana having  lot to do with my childhood,  vanished houses of my peers and mine now living in memory only and  the dying Bazaars  unfolding  like pages of history, telling our blood-soaked tales  that were heavy on my mind. Did this verse resonate, for my believing that there lies a hope in desolation – the hope that still lives in the eyes of the children playing in the lanes and by lanes of the town- capital of the country during the period of the Sultans?  The spark, for which our generation was known, burns brighter in their eyes. 
For us these lanes were gyms, indoor stadiums, and sports fields.  In these lanes, we played hopscotch, tip-cat and more than a score of other games. These games involved lots of running around, we enjoyed the freedom, denied to the after generations. Seeing these boys with ‘spark burning brighter’ in their eyes playing cricket   made me relive childhood in these lanes. Every lane, and every open space in the backyard and every compound looked like a cricket ground with boys of all groups playing the game with locally made willow bats and walnut wood balls. Some of my friends in the neighboring Mohallas of Pandan and Malaratta had bigger compounds - we looked on these compounds as good as international cricket stadiums. Those days our knowledge, about internationally known cricket stadiums in India, Pakistan and England was confined to the radio commentaries of test matches. I do remember, our imagination would run wild about the geography of the stadium when commentators would say that now the boiler is coming from the church end or the university end, so on and so forth. Commentators like Omar Kureshi and Chisty Mujahid, for their lucidity had a big fan club in our locality- almost every child admired them.  For offering his comments on the performance of every boy on the field one of our friends was nicknamed as Lala Amarnath, after great Indian cricketers whose comments on radio were considered as  final.   Some of us dreamt, of becoming as good cricketer as Hanif Muhammad becomes and   as good commentators as Omar Kureshi.  One of compounds – our cricket ground belonged to a schoolmate and friend Abdul Hamid Wani, comparatively with houses surroundings belonging to different families of the tribe   on three sides standing the compound was larger and bore the semblance of a stadium. I, children of the clan and many our schoolmates often played cricket in this compound. I have  very vivid impression, one day our match got disturbed when someone cried that Sofi Sahib (Sofi Muhammad Akbar) has been released and is on the door of the house. I do not remember the year. Sofi Mohammad Akbar was maternal grandfather of our schoolmate Abdul Hamid Wani, it was much later in his life, when he joined Students and Young men’s League that he used S. Hamid as non-deplume. I do not remember, if he had arrived in taxi or on tonga to the house of our friend. It was second time; I had seen a top jailed leader in blood and flesh. My impression of seeing Sofi Muhammad Akbar is as fresh as first day morning snow; relatively short statured wearing a full button coat and a black astrakhan cap.  He was simplicity incarnate. I later on saw Sofi Muhammad Akbar on a couple of other occasions at the house of my friend- and had the opportunity of seeing blood running through his face on knowing contents of Indira-Sheikh Accord.
• In our childhood, most of the jailed leaders and political workers belonging to the Plebiscite Front, the Political Conference, or supporters of erstwhile the Muslim Conference   carried a halo around them for all children. Despite having seen many of them sitting inside the shops or houses of political workers, for their austere life style they looked to us larger than life. Theirs was not a story of rags to riches and BMWs.
 I do remember having seen even top leaders traveling in buses - On many occasions I saw Molvi Syed, boarding a bus to Ganderbal near tailoring shop of Abdul Rehman one of his ardent supporters in our Mohalla.
In a sea of hopelessness of fifties these leaders and political workers  seemed a great hope to the people but….. the rest is history.

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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