TRAl: For six years, every gunshot she heard, every news of a militant’s killing or of a cordon and search operation, sent shivers down the spine of Maimoona Akhter, the mother of Burhan Muzaffar Wani. “Till it actually happened, I feared every day that Burhan had been martyred,” the 43-year-old Maimoona told Kashmir Reader. Her son’s killing was not the worst fear Maimoona had, though. What she feared most was an act of injustice or wrong-doing on the part of her militant son.
“I prayed to Allah to give my son wisdom enough to differentiate between right and wrong. I voiced my concerns to Burhan every time I got a chance to do so,” she said.
Maimoona is a delicate-looking, shy woman who rarely interacts with strangers, countless of whom have kept thronging her house every day since July 8 last year, the day Burhan was killed.
It was on the insistence of this reporter that she agreed to spare a few minutes and talk about Burhan and her other son Khalid, who was killed on April 13, 2015, by government forces when he had gone to meet his militant brother.
“I got to meet Burhan a few times in the six years that he was a militant,” she said. “Every time we met, I had only one thing to tell him. And he, too, had only one thing to say.”
Burhan took up arms in September 2010, days ahead of his Class 10 examinations. Maimoona said he had bought some new clothes for himself and had told her that he was going to exchange the clothes because they did not fit. “He was fond of dressing well. I did not suspect anything then.”
Maimoona said Burhan carried the clothes in a duffel bag, left home, and never came back.
“We thought he would get tired, because he was too young to be on the run all the time,” Maimoona said, a wistful smile on her face.
She talked about Burhan as any proud mother would talk about her son, her countenance giving no clues that her son is no more alive.
She talked as if Burhan was going to come running through the door any time.
When the family asked Burhan, in the first meeting they had with him, if he was tired and wants to come back, he surprised them with his answer. “I think I have wasted all these years of my life. I should have left earlier,” Maimoona recalls Burhan telling them.
That was the last time they asked him to come back.
The family had to be extremely cautious whenever they met Burhan. Government forces kept a watch on their home and on the movement of the family members.
More than a dozen militants always stood guard when Burhan met his family. “Those meetings were always fleeting,” Maimoona said.
Whenever they met, Maimoona had the same thing to ask of her son. “You are too young, son. Always judge between right and wrong. Do not do anything that will spoil your life in the hereafter. Do not harm any innocent. Keep your grave in your mind always. We all have to die,” Maimoona said, repeating the words she told her son in every meeting they had.
She kept asking his fellow militants, all of whom were elder to Burhan, to forgive and overlook any mistakes her son may commit. She asked them to guide him like they would their younger brothers.
Burhan, after he had hugged and kissed everyone, had the same thing to say to his family. “He kept telling us to follow Deen (Islam) in letter and spirit. He used to lecture us and ask us to not miss our prayers,” Maimoona said.
It still baffles Maimoona how her young son, who lived a lavish life and was afraid even to venture into the washroom alone, treaded treacherous jungles and lived a life of such hardships. “Mama, please stay here, don’t leave,” Burhan always said to his mother every time he used the washroom.
“He left the bathroom door ajar and I had to stay outside till he had finished,” Maimoona recalls, laughing aloud.
She is still trying to figure out what made her son the man that he became. Burhan and his elder brother Khalid even shared their bedroom with their grandparents, moving to different room only less than a year before Burhan took up arms.
“The brothers one fine day decided that it’s time for them to sleep in a separate room and they moved,” Maimoona recalled.
At the mention of Khalid, this reporter asked Maimoona how difficult it was for her to have lost him so suddenly. Maimoona called it Allah’s will. “Some strive for martyrdom, some are bestowed with it,” she said.
“Burhan fought to be a martyr. Khalid was chosen by Allah for the privilege,” she said.
Maimoona said she felt her sons had laid their lives for a cause, and the biggest tribute to them would be the fulfilment of their dreams.
“A free Kashmir is what my sons dreamt of, and I hope I live to see that inevitable day. I keep praying for it for my sons, and for the countless other sons Kashmir has lost,” Maimoona said.