By Ubeer Naqushbandi
Srinagar: “Yousuf Saeba Bati Khu (Yousuf, have lunch),” a lady comes with a plate of rice and some vegetables, places it on a rack, and calls to the man lying on a bed nearby.
“Ma tul todh, help him to stand,” a man gruffly tells the lady. Her eyes turn moist at this. She wipes her tears with the fold of her tippet. “See what they have done to my athletic brother,” she sighs.
Mohammad Yousuf Sheikh, hit by pellets in his left eye in Shopian’s Pinjura areaon Sunday, had come home for holidays from Kanpur where he is studying for a Masters in Physical Education.
In the Ophthalmology Ward of SMHS hospital, Yousuf now lies with black goggles on. His sister helps him to eat. But every morsel Yousuf takes towards his mouth, his hand bumps against his nose. His sister wipes his nose each time with a towel. “Usually, he would finish the meal within ten minutes but now it takes him more than half an hour,” she rues.
After Yousuf finishes with the lunch, his sister comes with a jug of water and a bowl to wash his hands. He washes his hands and wipes them with a towel. Then he says in harsh tone to this reporter, “What is there to talk about? Can’t you see what they have done to me?”
His sister calms him down. He now says with a groan, “Why I came home to spend vacations? If I wouldn’t have come, this would have not happened.”
His sister takes it upon herself to speak. “He loved sports from childhood,” she says. “He wanted to make a career in it. That is why we sent him outside to study the subject of his choice.”
Yousuf loved Kabbadi the most, said his sister. “He has participated in national-level competition of Kabbadi,” she says, with pride.
Yousuf recounts the incident that has left him blind in one eye. “At about 10am on Sunday, I decided to take a stroll towards our family orchard located in Pinjura village, some 2.5 kilometres from our home in Killora. I was some meters away from the orchard when firing began in the area.”
“They (government troops) were firing every kind of ammunition available with them. I decided to return home but suddenly I felt as if a nail had pierced my left eye. I fell down. People took me to District Hospital Shopian. From there doctors referred me to SMHS hospital,” Yousuf said.
A first round of surgery has been performed on his eye. Doctors say that now a vitrectomy will ascertain the chances of his vision recovery.
Yousuf said he had already written part of the last-semester exam of his degree. “Now the practical part remains. It includes 12-foot jump, 500-meter run, 200-meter run, and volleyball matches. It seems next to impossible to participate in. It is the part that contributes the most marks to the degree,” said Yousuf in a gloomy tone.
With uncertainty looming over the prospects of Yousuf’s regaining vision, the young man who once dreamt in the apple orchards of Shopian of a career as a physical fitness teacher, is now himself “unfit”.