Pamposh: In loving memory of Soha

I want to believe that life is the most beautiful thing that a human experiences. I still want to, despite the bitterness the life brings most of the times. We as humans are complex beings with emotions running all over, experiences shaping us, and life just playing its game. On top of that, life is also very uncertain, and that is where its beauty lies. In those uncertainties there is a sense of hope.

I have read many poems where people use nature as an analogy to describe life. I think it’s the most skillful thing we’ve ever done. That is what I intend to do here – to describe the most beautiful human being that was ever born using the analogy of nature, and explain the uncertainty that life is.

During summers, the beauty of Kashmir is in the enthralling Dal Lake, providing the valley with calmness, coolness and serenity. It’s also the time when Pamposh blooms on the lake, spreading its colour all across the lake. In the summer of 2006, on 21st July, a Pamposh bloomed on the beautiful lake and she was rightly named Soha – a flower from heaven. Soha, like Pamposh, loved the warmth. The sun made her happy, and cheerful. Her eyes had depth, a depth of knowing life as it really is. She was beautiful and unstained from the murkiness of the lake underneath, just like a Pamposh. And if you looked at her bright smile you wouldn’t be able to tell that she was born with difficulties. She was the first child; the most protected of all, a baby girl with a smile so beautiful that it would brighten your day.

Soha, like a flower spread fragrance and color to the place she visited. She surely was different from the rest, from all of us. Soha was extraordinary. She wasn’t a usual flower, but a flower from heaven. She was special, she had her peculiar charm and she was always engrossed in her world – a world you, and I can’t comprehend. She was delicate and sensitive, always clenched to her mother as if seeking guard from the world outside. Her parents protected her just like the umbrella leaf of pamposh protects the flower from extreme climate. Her safe space was her family, she felt the warmest there, and most vulnerable when exposed to the outer world. But she was always curious to make this world her own. She tried, and no surprise, she did make her place.

She was bold, free, fearless and full of life. She knew the world had even more to offer. She dreamt, hoped, and she lived. With her, she taught all of us to live.

She loved the sun, just like a Pamposh. And not just in its physicality, but also metaphorically, sun as a symbol of happiness, warmth, serenity, and source of light. Sun was her family, and friends where she felt the bliss. Soha was very sensitive. She could feel warmth just as quickly as she could sense cold; she could bloom with glee just as promptly as she could crumble with gloom. Her heart, like the petals of Pamposh, was delicate. Her soul was always in search of love, more love; winning hearts, and being a blusher Pamposh, a hopeful person in search of a warmer life. Soha always sought protection from her parents, she didn’t want to move an inch without their consent. She wanted their shelter, as if her parents were the one showering her with water and warmth that the Pamposh needed for growth.

But as I said, life is cruel, mean and bitter most of the times. This life is even harder for a delicate budding Pamposh like Soha, who wanted a peaceful world. And none other than God knew that this world was not meant for her. He knew her pain, her sensitivity, her flower like heart; He is the all-knowing – al-Aleem – indeed. God knew the garden of heavens where she always belonged, she was after all a flower from heaven. And so, after 13 years, cold weather approached. This Pamposh started to feel colder, her body was longing for warmth from the sun. She would sit in the garden all alone searching for some sun rays to fall on her. One Friday, when the night approached, Soha closed her petals and dipped under the water, hoping to rise up next day with the sun. But on 26th October 2019, the sun didn’t rise, the weather was cold and the Pamposh couldn’t survive. She tried to come back to life, to live, to hope, to dream but she collapsed. Soha fought to live, she fought with destiny, something you and I are not capable of. She faced her fate here, and finally chose the hereafter. A place where she rightly belonged. In the garden of heavens where the place smells like sandalwood and musk, where there are streams of honey and milk, lush green gardens, and fruit as sweet as sweetness – a palace of her own. Soha is living her best life, she is where she rightly belongs. She must be happy, and cheerful in her own little palace in the heavens. She must’ve met people like her, and she must be building a palace for her family and friends to come along. After all, this is the ultimate truth we all have to face, some earlier than the rest. But I know one thing for sure, Soha wanted to live and she is living. Living where we all should aspire to live, building empires where we should actually desire.

Soha left for a better place where she found solace, peace and love. But she left us all with emptiness in our heart. We yearn for her presence, we call her to come and play in the garden, ride her bicycle. We call her to laugh, to smile or just show her serene face. We call her…… Soha Soha Soha. But she is long gone, gone to a better place and a hopeful and peaceful place. She was a shining armour and now with her nowhere to be seen we have lost the light, the hope and we don’t want to dream anymore. This place, that we call world, had a charm and grace because it held this flower from heaven, but with her gone there is no serenity. The world altogether toppled. The weather grew colder, the sun stopped giving any warmth. There is now fog and dust, and rain and clouds – the sun is nowhere to be seen. The world halted in such a manner as if mourning for the loss of Pamposh. Mourning the disappearance of Pamposh that chose to close its petals so early is the hardest thing one can ever experience. It feels like you want to scream and shout, but there is a lump in the throat.

When Soha left for a better place on her own, she also took with her a part of her parents. A part that her parents still yearn for, a part that cannot be replaced and a part that was only meant for Soha. They feel like the hope to live has ceased to exist. A Pamposh from heaven was lost, it was a loss for many, when people around didn’t see her rise that Saturday.

The place where this precious Pamposh rests has blossomed with flowers, and more flowers. This way Soha dropped a hint at where she actually is – jannti kis poshe baghas manz.

Hiba Ishaq is doing her masters at Nelson Mandela Centre for  Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamic, New Delhi.