By Dr Reyaz Tawheedi, Kashmir
The awesome sound of the bell of Shutur-be Mahaar almost pierced the curtains of his ears, and launched a nightly attack on his enthralled sleep; the shanty of quietude was pulled down. In the nightly gloom the screams came: Mother! Those tyrants have shot him… he is wounded and fallen prostrate on the road and is begging for life…Mother, he is all tears because of his pain…. Mother, he is helpless and in his throes…’’ Saying this, Gulistan rose from his bed, laid his head on his mother’s chest and whined. The mother woke up from her sleep. “Don’t worry, my darling. Don’t you get panicked…All will be well.” Saying this she too began to cry. “Our family will surely take revenge of the murders of your friend.” She consoled him, but could not stop shedding tears; she kept caressing his head until the appearance of the morning star.
Whenever this fifteen-year old student Gulistan Khan remembered that tempestuous bloody night, and tried to get his despair drowned in the inundation of the terrific ocean of sleep, he was overwhelmed by the same aching moments when those terror-monger marauders blew the glare of the volleys of bullets; the tremor shook his innocent thoughts and ransacked the palaces of his beautiful dreams. He visibly recollected how in his very presence in broad daylight, the veiled monsters pierced the chaste and rose-like delicate body of his sixteen-year old friend Bostan Shah. He envisioned how his friend took books from his school-bag with his blood drenched hands to convince the stone-hearted killers that he was innocent.
Kashmir, the earthly Elysium, had been witnessing for the last two decades that many an innocent fragrant flower like young boy like Bostan Shah, without realizing the beauteous dreams in their moist eyes, departing as if the dew drops of their motherland perished on the prickly brambles. It was not certain how many more roses like Inayat and Zahid, the gloom-loving tyrants would trample under their feet before they bloomed, and how the warbling thrushes of this flower-covered vale would they strike mute and inter their melodies in their restrained heart throbs.
Gulistan and Bostan were students of the same school. Being peers in age and standard, their friendship was exemplary. Gulistan dreamed of being a doctor while Bostan always aspired to be an engineer. It happened that a seminar was organized under the auspices of “Good Will” program on the occasion of the Peace Day in the premises of the school; the subject of the seminar was “The Aim of My Life.” Like many other students, Gulistan and Bostan too participated in the seminar. Besides the organizers of the Peace Group, many other elders were intently giving audience to the speeches of the students. “The aim of my life is to be a doctor,” said Gulistan Khan with respect to the subject of the seminar, “so that I could cure those thousands of people who have become victims of the ongoing violence and have crippled.”
Bostan Shah, expatiating on the theme, said, “I desire to be an Engineer so that I could be of some help in rebuilding the innumerable houses that have been reduced to heaps of debris during the continuous violence.”
Hearing the optimistic speeches of the two pals, the audiences were exhilarated and cheered them time and again, but the peace-hating eyes of the Peace Group were reddened with anger. Both Gulistan and Bostan were awarded a book title “In Search of Peace” by the Peace Group for their best performance.
When the function ended, the two pals joyously set out towards their homes. While they were crossing the main road, Gulistan asked Bostan to wait for him till he returned after buying a chocolate from the shop. While he was buying the chocolate, a green colored car stopped near Bostan and some veiled persons came out and fired many rounds of bullets at him; he fell level to the ground.
Seeing this gory incident, the folks standing nearby asked the veiled persons about the reason of bloody act, they showed stones to them that they carried along in their hands. “This boy hurled stones at us…The ‘Bloody stone-thrower…!” They said without any restraint. While in his throes, Bostan somehow took out books from his bag and said, “See— there are books…only books in my …bag…not stones. I am innocent…”
When the mob carried the cold corpse of Bostan to the artificial court of the rulers of the time and tolled the bell for justice, the cops on duty at the gate made them run away from the spot saying, “Look! The balance of justice of our court has tilted towards the side of the stones not the books.” The disappointed mobs calmly left the place and carried Bostan’s corpse towards the graveyard. It was the graveyard that was beyond the tyranny of the tyrants and had been witnessing quietly such incidents and giving room to many such harmless bodies in its broad lap.
The annual examination started; Gulistan, broken and dismayed, sat in the hall to take the test. When the question paper of the 10th standard was placed before him, he felt as if his friend was just close to him and he heard him speak, “My dear friend, we have to face many an arduous tests in life and I am sure that we shall be successful. You have to be a doctor and me, an engineer.” These echoing words of his friend made him restless and his brain stopped thinking….He envisioned blood-stained stones all around him.
He quietly came out of the examination hall and having concealed a stone under the book “In Search of Peace”, ran towards the road. As soon as the bell started ringing, the sound pierced his ears. The edged piece of rock made a fountain of blood gush forth from the forehead of the chief of the Peace Group. A surge of hatred made the hand press the trigger of the gun, and within no time Gulistan’s rosy body was under the shower of flames. Without minding his burning existence, he mounted the horse of his courage and flung the book “In Search of Peace” at the face of the Chief of the Peace group, saying, “You, hypocrites! Is this your philosophy of peace…? Does it mean you should rip apart the breath of unarmed people by your brazen swords? …And… You should go on curbing the helpless heart-throbs by hanging them…?”
The blood continued dripping from his body and gradually his emotions cooled down. He staggered and finally fell prostrate at the centre of the road.
When children heard the ominous sound of gun, they too started seeing stones instead of words on the pages of their books. They hurried out from the schools carrying heavy bags of books in their hands. The sweet smell of Gulistan’s blood was felt all around in the air. The villagers dared to take wounded Gulistan to the hospital. The doctors tried their best to save his life. His mother sat beside him caressing his head. When in the mid of the dark night the ominous bell rang, his heart was about to stop beating. Having found solace by placing his head in his mother’s lap he said in his throes, “Mother, my wounded friend is calling me for medical aid… see how blood is dripping from his wounds…Do not be sad, my mother… the gloom is dispersing … the dawn is not far away…”
Complete silence overwhelmed all around. The birds felt mute in the trees…His mother snag to herself:
Who is there to have slain my city of melodies?
Whosoever I talk to is found dumb and mute.