Widowed twice, Sharifa clings on to hope

Killings of two breadwinners has forced this Kupwara woman to live a life of penury

COST OF CONFLICT

ROHAIL AFZAL

For 45-year-old Sharifa Begum, who is living a life of penury in Lone Harie, Kupwara, 125 kms north of Srinagar, life has been cruel and full of sorrows. Holding close her nine-year-old son, Faisal, she narrates the hardships she faced in her life, especially after the death of her first husband.
“Life has been full of misery for me and my children,” says Sharifa Begum, who lost her first husband Abdul Aziz, a tailor, in 1995, only two years after her marriage. She says they had been dreaming of a new house that year. Aziz had gone to bring some wooden planks that day for their new house from the neighboring village, Dardpora. But he never returned. The new house remained a dream unfulfilled.
We were planning to build a new house, Sharifa says, so he went to Dardpora forests to bring some planks. “He was killed in the cross-firing,” she says. “He wasn’t a militant. He had no links with any armed organization or agency. He was a common man,” she says.
Sharifa now lives with her two sons, 18-year-old Jahangir, 9-year-old Faisal and 14-year-old daughter Najama. Jahangir dropped out of school in 9th standard. He now works as a laborer. “He left his studies for the future of his younger siblings because I wasn’t able to fulfill the needs of my children,” Sharifa says.
Three years after the death of her husband, Abdul Aziz, she was asked to marry her brother-in–law, Ghulam Muhammad by her family. She accepted him and they got married in 1998.
Then fate took another fatal turn. Three years after her second marriage, Ghulam Mohammad was found dead in the forests of Mughalpora in April 2002. “We don’t know who actually killed him,” says her 43-year-old brother-in-law, Abdul Gani. “But Army handed over his body to the Police,” he says. “That is the only thing that we know about his death.”
Sharifa says now they are struggling for survival in the absence of any breadwinner in their family. Initially Sakhawat Centre and local Auqaf Committee would support them financially, but she says they have also stopped helping them now.
“It has become so difficult for us to arrange our daily meals,” she says. “The last few months have been the worst period we have endured as a family.” Sharifa says her elder son was forced to drop out of school because she could not afford his school fee. Her 18-year-old son Jahangir, who sacrificed his studies for the future of his siblings, says his mother has already struggled a lot in her life. But now he wants to see his family happy.
“I can’t see my mother working or begging. She has already gone through a lot in her life,” he says. “I want to ensure my siblings get everything they want and need. I want a bright future for them,” Jahangir says in a mature voice.
Sharifa is suffering from many ailments and has to regularly take medicines prescribed by the doctor. She says sometimes she is unable to buy these medicines due to their poor financial condition.  Her 14-year-old daughter Najama says she wants to become a civil services officer. “I want to crack the civil service examination and make my mother proud,” she says. 
Sharifa says she has never visited the offices of any of the pro-freedom leaders for relief or financial support. “I’m all alone in this world,” he says. “I don’t know where they reside or their offices are. I have no faith in them. Only Allah is there for us,” she says.   
Despite losing everything to conflict, Sharifa says she is a proud wife. She believes sacrifices of people bring revolution. “I’m not the only wife who suffered for the cause of Azadi. I’m proud of my life and my husbands,” she says.
Sharifa says Dardpora, a few miles from Lone Harie, which is popularly known as the village of widows, has more than 200 widows. “There are hundreds of martyrs in Dardpora and their widows live a proud life.  Though they are also facing some financial problems but why should we repent or regret,” Sharifa says.
“People should never forget the sacrifices given for a cause,” Sharifa says. “Sacrifices made by the people will bear fruits some day,” she says in a determined voice.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST




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