By Ubeer Naqushbandi
SRINAGAR: At the Mir’s house in Donipora village, near Sangam in Anantnag district, a limping man in his mid-40s arrived one day. “Please provide me shelter,” he said, unexpectedly. “All my property has been taken away by my brothers. I am left with nothing.”
It was the summer of 2003. The man gave his name as Om Prakash, native of Vijaynagar in Jammu. He had been a truck driver, he said, until he met with an accident in Rajasthan’s Kishangarh. He lost his left foot in the accident, he said and showed his handicap. Without the foot, he could no longer continue truck-driving. The man said he had thought of doing a property business in Jammu, but his siblings grabbed all the property he had. He was left with nothing, he said.
The Mir, whose house was close to the highway, the daily path of truck-drivers, invited Prakash into his home, to stay. Soon, almost in no time, Prakash had become a family member. To make himself useful, he would look after cows, take the sheep out for grazing, and worked in the restaurants close to the highway that were run by the Mir’s family.
Some ten days ago, Prakash was crossing the road in Sangam, where the restaurants run by the Mir’s family are situated on both sides of the road. Prakash was crossing the road and a speeding oil tanker suddenly hit him. The injury damaged further his left leg, already without the foot. “In a half-dead state, we rushed him to Bijbehara hospital. From there he was referred to Bone and Joint Hospital in Barzulla,” said the Mir’s elder son, Bashir Ahmed Mir, outside the operation theatre in which Prakash was being operated on.
“He has nobody except us in this world. Some days ago his nephew came with his wife to take him away. But we didn’t let them take him,” Bashir Ahmed said.
“We asked them (the nephew and his wife), ‘Where were you all these years? He belongs to us and we will take care of him. Even if you have to take him home, it can only be after he has recovered fully”,’ Bashir said.
“How could we have let him go? He has become part of us,” Bashir said, anxious to hear news of what was going on in the operation theatre. Sukhdev, a worker at one of the family restaurants, arrived with some medicines. Over the years he has become a close friend of Prakash. About the Mir’s family he said, “These people don’t discriminate. Here there is no us and they. In these times when venom against Kashmir is being spread deliberately, here is our example of not only amicably living with the Mir’s family in Kashmir, but earning as well.” As Sukhdev was speaking, Prakash was brought outside the operation theatre and taken to Recovery Ward. Some fifteen minutes later, we went to the ward and saw a blanket laid all over the bed. It looks as if nobody was under the blanket, but when Bashir slightly lowered the blanket, there he was! A wrinkled face with brown dyed hair, our patient lazily uttered, “Ahoo?(What?)”.
On being asked about his relation with the Mir’s family, he said, “When my own left me, they accepted me. Now this is my family.”
The words of the patient brought tears in the eyes of Bashir. He spoke with emotion, “You will remain lifelong with us.”