Inside the Firdousabad locality of Batamaloo, songs praising the bride’s beauty would reverberate inside Sofi house until Thursday. There was joy and celebration. Now it is replaced by shrieks and dirges.
Two weeks back Riyaz Ahmad Sofi and his wife Kounsar had got their elder son Aquib married. The entire Sofi clan was in celebration mode. However, wee hours of Thursday changed celebration into mourning. Now, the entire family including Kounsar’s
husband Riyaz, his elder son Aquib and younger son 22-year-old Faheem are mourning their “greatest loss”, their mother, who became another victim of Kashmir’s unending quagmire at the age of 45 years. Both Aquib and Faheem are inconsolable as their relatives try hard to hold the brothers in the “grief of their life”.
Their father Riyaz, who works in the Health Department is sullen and silent, unable to comprehend the sudden “tragic change” of situation at his home. “He (Riyaz) was on night duty at CD hospital,” said relatives around him.
Sofi’s come from a clan of professional bakers who usually get up during wee hours, to get the morning bread ready for customers. On Thursday, it was their profession that came to haunt the otherwise happy family. During wee hours, routinely Aquib along with her mother Kounsar went in their car to open their shop nearly half a kilometre away at nearby Rekka Chowk.
“We left home, early in the morning in our car. She (Kounsar) sat with me on the front seat. When we moved ahead, we saw army and police vehicles. My mother told me to turn the car back since there seemed something wrong. I said alright. It was 4 in the morning,” said Aquib, with his eyes swollen and red due to continuous weeping.
As Aquib steered his car back and had sped few meters from the spot, he heard a burst of bullets splashing the rear glass of the car.
“We had just moved some meters away from the spot that burst of fire hit my mother from the back window of the car. We don’t know if the burst was fired by Army, CRPF or Police. The burst hit my mother on her head’s back side. This is it. She died at the spot,” said Aquib, with stains of his mother’s blood fresh on his clothes.
Shaken from the incident with her mother’s blood oozing lifeless body, it took Aquib a while to find what had really happened.
“Nobody was there to help me… As my mother was dying, I didn’t allow anybody to touch my mother. I took my mother in my car. I took her to Police Control Room,” said Aquib.
All the recent events flashed before Aquib’s eyes to how her mother became ecstatic when she had applied henna on her little finger.
“I took her down and hugged her and dropped her lifeless body on the trolley. I was then asked to drop my car at Batamaloo police station. I stood there. I was asked to wait for the station house officer. I told them I have lost my mother. I was then allowed to leave after people intervened,” said Aquib, showing his dyed little finger.
Neighbours and relatives of Sofis at Firdousabad remember how the family had toiled all these years to build the present house, in which they had got shifted recently for Aquib’s marriage from Batamaloo’s Baranpather.
“It was in 1992 that the family had purchased a piece of land here. From that time they have been building it brick by brick,” said Mohammad Amin Sofi, uncle of Aquib, who is also his father-in-law.
Sofi adds that the entire clan was busy with the delayed ‘saeteam doah’ (7th day ritual in marriages) scheduled for Friday. However, he said the day of celebration would be all mourning.
Kounsar’s body was still with the police as mourners continued to gather inside her house.