Two widows left homeless by floods worry about future

Srinagar: Mehmooda, 40, a mother of three, suffered a blow when her husband Farooq Ahmed Haroon, an SRTC driver, passed away three years ago. The great flood has now dealt a double whammy to her already precarious situation.
Her three-storey house in Jawahar Nagar, the primary source of income for the family as she had rented out a few rooms, collapsed in the flood, leaving her anxious about the children’s future.
“My life is a saga of unending tragedies. My father died when I was a toddler. My brother was martyred a few years after I got married. Then my husband passed away. And now, my house, my only source of livelihood has been destroyed by the flood,” said Mehmooda.
Since the waters receded, she has been visiting the house every day, picking in instalments from the third storey the household goods she had managed to save. Many items that couldn’t be saved, such as quilts, are buried under the rubble.
She is helped by her daughters, Maria, a first year BA student, and Maroofa, 12, to retrieve the goods from the structure despite repeated warnings and rebukes by the neighbours. It is not safe to walk in the house. But Mehmooda has her own reasons.
“I know it is risky but I have no option. I had stored almost all my belongings on the third floor. I am on my own. No one will understand my pain my desperation,” says Mehmooda.
“Had my husband been alive, things would not have been so ugly. I can’t face this difficult time alone. How will I educate my children? How will I feed them?” she said, tears welling up her eyes.
After a brief pause, Mehmooda recalls the happy moments at the house, which her husband had bought four years after the marriage.
Mehmooda and the girls have been living at her sister’s house in Miskeen Bagh area of the old city.
“How long will I stay with my sister? She too has a family. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone,” says Mehmooda.
“It is impossible for me to build a house like this. If the government increases the amount of compensation, I might be able to shelter my young girls,” she said.
The condition of Mymoona, a widow in her late fifties is even worse. Her house at Wazir Bagh, which was also home to the families of her three sons who were living separately, collapsed in the flood. She and her sons are currently putting up in tents on the Bund.
“Last year, I was mourning my husband’s death. This time I am lamenting the loss of my house. When my husband passed away, at least I had a home where I wept. Today I am homeless,” Mymoona said.
“I couldn’t salvage anything because the waters submerged the house quickly.”
She said no official from the state government ever visited the flood-hit families living in the tents provided by a politician. It was volunteers from downtown who fed them during the early days of the crisis, she said.
“The government left us at the mercy of Allah. This mattress was donated by (JKLF chief) Yasin Malik,” she said, complaining that the ‘compensation’ of Rs 75,000 announced by the government for damaged houses was too little to reconstruct a house.
“What will I do in winters? Where will I stay? Had it been summers, I would have stayed for some more time in this tent,” said Mymoona.