A heart-wrenching scene
The saint living at the top of the hill in one of the remotest jungles of the valley had not met any soul since decades. People living nearby would seldom catch a glimpse of him but he would often disappear and turn into a shadow for everyone. What he ate or what he did was everybody’s guess.
The valley had seen the arrival of saints, Syeds and sadhus from Central Asia to India in the past but this got stopped few centuries ago when valley had become a Jageer of some invaders, or like the saying in valley goes, the place had become all polluted and saints never like polluted places.
However, many historians now connect this saint’s appearance to prophesy of Niamattullah shah Wali who had predicted that the valley would become corridor for Central Asia again and would see the arrival of new saints, Pirs and Dervishes.
Despite the saint’s appearance on Kohi Haldar, the situation was quite different from the era that had witnessed the spiritual ecstasy and heaven in the Valley.
Apparently, everything on surface seemed going on its own pace. But, to every human with heart and soul, it seemed all going in a direction that was costing lives, livelihood, future and time.
Degradation to degeneration was rampant and few elders were losing sleep by watching the deterioration every day. Yet, dared not to talk, whisper or cry or even raise an eyebrow or involve people to ponder over the issue. Everybody was watching it silently.
It was a matter of more than ten million souls living in gorges, craters, embankments, jungles and barren mountains.
Some would call them emotional wreaks, some would label them cheats, to some they were very a gullible lot and for some they were only thick-skinned population. Nobody had any clue what they were and how they wanted to be treated.
Since centuries, they have played safe while being invaded again and again but the “crafty” lot among them had every time invited outsiders to come and rule them as they never felt comfortable with their local ones.
The situation was becoming scary now, they were losing lives every day and those ruling them were turning a blind eye to their loss.
Some heartbroken elders went to this most reverend saint who was living at the top of the hill overlooking valleys, rivers and dwellings….
The moment he saw old men climbing the hill, his heart went wild and he starting crying…
"What can I tell them, they know nothing of their fate. They are doomed by their deeds. They are their own destructors". His tears turned into torrential rain that was drenching the hills also.
Oldies were limping hard to climb, stopping after every two steps yet trying hard to reach and ask him what to do in a situation they were caught in, that was dwindling their coming generations………
The saint was keenly watching them as he was fearing that they might fall down the gorge which was too deep to swallow them….
After a lot of struggle and breathlessness, they ultimately reached the top and fell down on his feet, crying, "please save us as we are at the verge of extinction"….
Saint took them in a thatched hut and made them to sit and relax. How could they sit, they were in real pain and agony, all breathless and tearful………?
In a flash of a second, the lightning broke followed by deafening thunder, the saint was staring at them with a fierce look that made them more frightened….
He kept murmuring to himself….
" Those who have lost control over their household have no right to come for refuge. Those whose greed has become their religion should never come to saint. Those who live on the fence have no right to ask for help. Those whose even mentally challenged girls get raped ask no mercy. Those whose beard has become a fashion are traitors. Those who mourn the death of the killer n the killed both have no conscience. Those who loot, plunder and pillage the vulnerable ones should never come to me. Go back and see if you are not one among them, then come to me and I will pray to God to have mercy on you".
Few among the oldies started to look at each other as if introspecting their life, home and background. One among them was the uncle who disowned his orphan nephew from inheritance.The one with brown beard has three wives and ten kids, all living like destitutes and mendicants.
That one who was at the feet of the saint was trader of many young lives who were getting killed every day.
Sitting near earthen fire pot had thrown stones at the mentally challenged girl, who were recently raped by many men in his village.
And, the one at the threshold of the hut had been collecting donations for the orphans of martyrs and had become a landlord in no time….
The last, feeble and timid ones, who did not dare to enter the hut were crying their hearts out as if they were the biggest sinners and were drenching in remorse and were asking for forgiveness…
The saint got up and whispered near them, "Do not cry, your cries are piercing the heart of the sky, every angel and every soul in the universe is crying with you” ……..the saint went in circles around them…….
“What can I do, this place has become plagued with deceit, betrayal and lies. The greed, the treachery and the disloyalty has become the new religion of many. I am not a Noah n have no ark to save the good ones. I see the whole place is doomed". He ran wild and wild in bushes…….
There was no sight of him now…. he just disappeared…. The remorseful elders were crying and running in many directions……….
So was I crying and running in a dream which broke with a huge thud of blast near a mosque that was cordoned off by security personnel after a tip off about the presence of gunmen inside the mosque.
And, many more were making preparations for their memorable funeral.
(The writer is ex editor of BBC and a Penguin author.)