Of holes in the heart that others cannot see

Of holes in the heart that others cannot see

Tral / Khrew: Her husband, Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, a college lecturer, was beaten to death by soldiers of the army’s 50 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in Shershali, Khrew, on August 18 last year. Shabir Ahmad and his younger brother were forcefully dragged from their rooms to out on the road, as were other villagers, during a night raid by army soldiers and were mercilessly beaten for hours. His brother and others survived the assault. Shabir Ahmad did not.
Yasmeena, aged 30, was married to Shabir Ahmad in 2013, two years after her father died from a prolonged illness. The marriage, as her mother Khushi Banoo puts it, brought happiness in her life after years of grief. “When she gave birth to Nuwaib Mohammad in the year 2015, it was an ecstatic moment for her,” Khushi Banoo said. “The loss of her husband has returned her to misery,” she sobbed.
A week before her husband was killed, Yasmeena had gone with her baby to her mother’s home in Tral. Shabir had telephoned her to ask when she was planning to return. “He barely found time from his reading to attend to personal matters. But he knew his responsibilities,” Yasmeena said. “His innocence and caring nature were his best qualities.”
It was a Thursday morning when a messenger brought her the horrible news that her husband was battling for life in hospital. “Perhaps he was already dead when they brought him to the hospital at 5:30am. That is the time noted down by the medical officer at Pampore hospital,” Yasmeena said. “One Thursday I saw him alive and the next Thursday I saw him dead.”
Till December last year, Yasmeena stayed at her home in Khrew with her father-in-law and two younger in-laws. But her health was deteriorating due to endless emotional breakdowns and sleepless nights and weeping. She came to live with her mother at her home in Dadsara, Tral.
Khushi Banoo said her daughter had lost a great deal of weight when she came to her home. “We took her for counselling. She was taking anti-depressants for some months. They were not helping. The wound has made itself so deep in her heart that it will never be healed,” Khushi Banoo said.
Yasmeena says that there is no medicine in the world that can cure her misery. “He was everything to me. How can I expect to get up and live again?” she said.
Nuwaib will turn two years old on May 21 this year. He is still a child who speaks a few words of Kashmiri, but Khushi Banoo says that he insists on travelling to heaven to meet his ‘Babu’.
Yasmeena was studying an MA course in Urdu when her father was alive. She left it mid-way after his death. She had made up her mind to study again after insistence from her husband. “Now all that has gone to ashes. I feel that the whole world is spinning away from me and I am all alone,” she said.
Wali Mohammad, her father-in-law, is as melancholy and as alone as Yasmeena. His wife died 26 years ago and left him with three children: two sons and a daughter. Shabir was the eldest and was only four years old when his mother died. Wali Mohammad raised his children by himself. He worked as a labourer at a nearby cement factory, earning a meager income. He spent all his savings on the education of Shabir, who went on to secure an MPhil in English Literature, besides a BEd degree (Bachelor in Education). He was working on his PhD when he was killed.
“He took care of everything,” said Masrat, his sister. “We felt that our days of poverty were going away and we were stepping into prosperity.”
Masrat said that the house was “blooming with happiness” when he was married. “We had not felt such happiness before. It was astounding for all of us,” she said.
Today the same house wears a desolate look and only loneliness seems to fill it. “His loss has made a hole in our hearts, which others cannot see,” Masrat said. “We now know how much he meant to us.”
Wali Mohammad, 65 years old, leaves early in the morning for work. He says he has no strength to work but if he stays at home he’ll lose his mind. His son, Zahoor Ahmad, drives a taxi. Masrat stays at home.
Wali Mohammad said that the killers of his son are now making sure that no punishment comes to them. “There was a hearing in court this year, but it is all futile. The only faith we have is in God,” he said.
The Commanding Officer of the 50 RR unit stationed in Shershali, Khrew, is under investigation for the killing. The case is moving at snail’s pace.

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