Urfi wants to help her family but feels helpless
Insha Latief / Nazima Sidiq
Shopian: Urfi Rashid, 17, sits close to a window at her home in Chitragam Kalan village of Shopian, watching her sister, Sheema, do the household chores. Sheema is getting married in a few days, and despite her wishes, Urfi is unable to help her with the chores. She doesn’t help her in the shopping either. She just stays indoors, silent.
A black scarf covering her head strategically conceals her left eye. Urfi remembers, almost vividly, the events of November 2, 2017, the day she lost her eye to pellets fired by government forces.
It was a day of curfew in Chitragam and adjoining villages. There were protests in the village, leading to scuffles with the forces. Many people got injured, as forces cane charged the residents, broke window panes, and beat up people.
At her home, Urfi, preparing for her 12th class examination, heard that her grandmother had been injured in the stampede. Unable to resist, she came out of home, looking for her.
On the way, Urfi says, she saw forces thrashing people. “They had caught hold of a nighbourhood boy and were trying to take him inside their vehicle. I came from the back and helped him flee,” she recalls.
As she moved back, forces fired pellets and lobbed pepper gas shells at the people.
Many pellets hit her arms, head and face. She felt irritation in her eyes but thought it was pepper gas irritating her.
“After half an hour, my eyes started bleeding. Everyone in the house got furious and immediately took me to the hospital where I got to know that I had received pellets in the left eye.”
Her journey to hospital was prolonged as government forces stopped them at several places.
In the last nine months, Urfi has undergone four surgeries at the SMHS hospital.
“With an injured eye, I have to be very careful to dust or water as it should not catch infection. I can see everything with my right eye but nothing with left,” she said.
Her mother, Mariyam, gloomy, sat next to Urfi.
“I pray for her recovery; she is a girl and has to get married,” Mariyam said.
But getting married is not Urfi’s biggest worry. She wants to work to help her family but her books lie untouched, tucked in her school bag. She is not able to study.
She sees her friends joining college to pursue higher studies, and feels helpless. A “maimed person”, she says is “good for nothing”.
“Some people talk behind my back that why I went out that day. What were my intentions to leave house that day? I prefer to stay home so that I don’t have to listen to all this,” says Urfi. “My sister is getting married and I am not helping her in any way. I too had many plans for my sister’s wedding,” she said and tears rolled down her eyes.
Her father Abdul Rashid Ganai, a farmer, says that many people offered financial help to him but he refused.
“God has burdened us with this, let Him help us. But we are always ready to do anything for her treatment, that’s what a parent is for.”