‘Promises we break and memories break us’
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The diary of Danish, killed by a bullet at the age of 18, reveals a young poet concerned with human frailty

“If one fine day I die
I still need your hand to close my eye
So hold my hand tightly”

By Noor Mohi Ud Din

Baramulla: When Haneefa Begum closed the eyes of her 18-year-old son, forever, she did not know that she was fulfilling a wish of his. The diary in which Danish wrote his poetry was guarded even from his mother. It was always with him, even when he died. It was found, a notebook full of poems, on a ground where people were running helter-skelter to save their lives. Danish couldn’t, even though he was not part of the crowd. The notebook, when it was picked up by someone, brought to the notice of people the death of the poet who had asked for his hand to be held tightly when it was time for him to die.
The diary of Danish, his formal name Mehraj-ud-din Lone, was the hidden treasure of his life. He was still learning to compose poetry, practising it, and the poems he decided to set down in writing reveal his fine grasp of human relations. He is full of empathy, and concern, affection, fidelity for his family, his friends, with strangers and public figures such as Burhan Wani – the private poet finding his social life in the bond of thoughts, emotions, language.

In a poem dedicated to his friends, Danish writes,
“May there always be light to guide your way,
May the Lord shower His choicest blessings on you,
I pray;
Wishing you a wonderful life and fulfilling future”

“Danish was punctual in prayers. His only goal was to read more and more. He used to bolt his room and study up to 3am. Danish was a brilliant student and very few people know him in his village, but he was very much friendly and always carried a smile on his face. Believe me, he was more of an angel,” said Mudassir Ahmad Lone, one of Danish’s friends, adding, “For the past one-and-a-half month he was giving tuition classes free of cost at his residence.”
Danish died when a bullet fired by army soldiers hit his chest, on August 31 at Nadihal village in Baramulla district. According to eyewitnesses, people were protesting against night raids by government forces. Danish was not part of the protest. His family members say Danish was looking for his younger brother Aaqib Manzoor in the crowd when a bullet hit him in the chest. He was taken to Baramulla District Hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. Danish became the 71st victim of the 2016 uprising that began after Hizb commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces.
While wiping tears from the face of her mother, Danish’s sister Mehwish Mushtaq cried, “Mama mae wadd, mye chue Danish Bayyun Pheraan (Ma, don’t cry, I miss brother Danish even more).”
“After Burhan Wani’s death, Danish bhaiyya told me to go through his diary everyday but I never did. Today when I went through his personal diary I couldn’t believe my eyes:

“A sister is someone who is sweet
Supportive, kind, loving, cheerful”

Mehwish, a girl in Class 7 and the lone sister of Danish, said, “Since the day of his (Danish’s) martyrdom, I and my siblings go through the notebook every day. The more we go through it, the more we miss him.”
The Lone family consists of four sons and a daughter. Danish was the eldest.
Recalling his conversations with his son, Manzoor Ahmad Lone said that Danish was always inclined towards the freedom movement but never participated in stone throwing or sloganeering. “He thought such acts were futile,” Manzoor Ahmad said.
“A few days ago, at dinner, Danish said that this movement is dying down after Burhan Wani’s death. Papa, Kashmir needs some really big sacrifice and I think Nadihal has to sacrifice someone great,” Manzoor Ahmad said with a sigh. “I never knew Danish would leave us in this way. He was a loving and caring son.”

In memory of Burhan Wani, Danish had penned down a verse in Kashmiri:
“Che osukh gatjaaruk noor Burhano, koruth insaniyatuk naav aeli shaan Burhano:
Zaelim hatavni kith kornak Qudratan paida, che loguth deen o eemanas raech karun Burhano
(You were the light of sagacity, Burhan; you elevated the humanity, Burhan
God created you to end tyranny; you became the guardian of the faith)

Days after his death, when his mother starting serving food to her kids, out of habit she put a plate for Danish also. “Memories will haunt me forever,” she said.
In a poem dedicated to his mother, Danish writes,
“Mother! There is difference between promise and memories. Promises we break and memories break us.”
“Today, the memories of Danish are breaking us,” sighed Aaqib Manzoor, Danish’s younger brother.
In what appears to be the latest piece written by Danish in Urdu, titled Azadi (freedom), is the call: “Bullets will fly but you have to remain steadfast.”

The last words in the diary, resonant and eternal:
“Hum Kya Chahtey – Azaadi
Aayi Aayi – Azaadi
Woh Phooloun Waali – Azaadi…
Goli bhi Chaley Gi – Azaadi
Darna Kaisa – Azaadi
Lalkaar Kay Bolo – Azaadi”

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