Srinagar: In Ward 1 of SKIMS Soura, 19-year-old Abid Ahmad lies reclined on a bed. An elderly woman, Maryam, brings to him a freshly peeled apple. “Khea Khea sorui, Kamzoor chukh gomut (Eat the whole of it, you have turned weak),” she tells him. A youth named Suhail feels his arm and another youth, Adil, touches his forehead to check his fever. “Tschajya teera, taph ma chui basan (Has your shivering stopped? Do you feel any fever?)” he asks.
Abid, a native of Verinag who works as a baker in Srinagar’s Nawab Bazar, had gone out to buy vegetables when he was trapped in the anti-India protests that were going on at Kawdara. “I had gone out in the evening as the markets opened at that time. But government forces came and forced the shopkeepers to shut their shops. It led to angry youths pelting the troops with stones,” Abid said. He said that the government troops fired shells and pellets at unarmed protesters.
Abid came in the line of fire and was hit by dozens of pellets in his legs. “I instantly fell down in a pool of blood,” he said. He was picked up by local people and taken to SMHS hospital.
“At SMHS the doctors referred him to SKIMS as his injuries were grave, and he had lost a lot of blood,” said Suhail Ahmad, neighbour of Abid.
Abid was hit on August 31 and almost all of Nawab Bazar has come to see him in hospital since then, Suhail said. “Every day 8 to 10 people come to visit me. Even the elderly people of Nawab Bazar come to ask about my well-being,” Abid said.
Suhail, who has been by Abid’s side since the day he was injured, said that the youth of the area have taken it upon themselves to look after Abid. “We will return Abid to his family only after he has fully recovered,” Suhail said. Abid’s family still doesn’t know of his injury. “We have not informed them yet. He is their only son; they won’t be able to bear it,” Suhail said.
Suhail, who first identified himself as Abid’s brother, said, “He has been with us since childhood; that makes him my brother, even though he is from a different mother.”
He also said that every day three boys from Nawab Bazar make sure that they spend the night with Abid at the hospital. “We have assigned everybody with a turn,” he said.
Abid told this reporter that Maryam, who nurses him at the hospital, was not related to him. “She is not my mother but a woman who treats me like my mother. Everyday she makes sure I eat and take my medicines on time,” he said. Maryam said that she found it her “duty” to look after Abid. “As his mother is away from him, I realised that he needs a woman to look after him. In a time of crisis, a man needs his mother the most,” she said.
Mohammad Yaqoob, an attendant of another patient, said that people in the ward did not know that those visiting Abid were not related to him. “Until you told me that people visiting Abid are not his relatives, I had no knowledge of this fact. They treat him like their own family member,” he said. “The elderly either tell us that he is their son or nephew, and the youth usually identify themselves as his brother,” Yaqoob said.