Tral: For the world, he is Burhan Muzaffar Wani, but for me, he is my Mohammad Burhan-ud-Din. That’s what I named him when I first held the delicate just-born bundle of joy he was in my arms.
Yes, a bundle of joy is what he was for me and my wife Mughli.
He was most attached to the two of us, and why not? We were his grandparents.
My old age has been filled with countless memories of Burhan. When I look back today, I feel he has been my only source of happiness all through.
I can recount each memory with exact precision, but today I will narrate the one that remains engraved on my heart like it was just this morning.
Because in that memory of us, of him and me, Burhan somehow foresaw his future, and it still amazes me how a kid of just 15 could have done that.
Burhan was a brilliant boy who never studied at home. Let’s not judge if that’s right or wrong.
Every time we asked him to have a look at his books, he got naughty.
“There they are. I can see them,” he always said, pointing at his school bag. He used to argue that students who study at home do not pay attention to teachers at school, and his results always supported his argument.
It was another restive day of the uprising of the summer of 2010.
I was lying on that bed, you can see, and Burhan sat beside me. He was going to appear for his class 10 examinations in a few months. I started a conversation with him about his studies.
“You have been a brilliant boy all through school, always on top,” I said to him. “I want you to do something extraordinary now. I want to hear your name announced on the radio when your results are declared. Make us proud.”
He thought for a while, took a few deep breaths, and what followed was that one conversation you remember all your life.
It was philosophical, and it was revealing of what lay ahead – though I was too naïve to grasp all that in that very moment.
“You have been an officer yourself. Tell me why officers have that glass mounted on their tables,” he asked.
Though taken by surprise at the seemingly unrelated question, I answered and told Burhan that the glass is to keep important documents beneath it, so that the officer can keep an eye on them.
I told him that the officer has to keep himself aware of which documents to reply to and which to dispatch, and the glass serves a purpose in keeping an eye on most important affairs.
Pat came another question from him.
“Do you think Manmohan Singh will have such a glass on his table?” he asked. I laughed out loud but seeing him sombre and engrossed in thought, I decided to answer. “Why not, he is the Prime Minister of India, and he always has important documents to look at. He runs his country,” I answered.
What Burhan said next was laughable at that point in time, and that is what exactly what I did, I laughed.
“My name will be on documents beneath that glass on Manmohan Singh’s table,” he said.
While I was laughing, Burhan seemed to be in no mood to fool around. Despite his jolly nature, he was unexpectedly serious.
The day went by, and so did many after that. But that conversation with him never left me entirely.
What transpired in the following years, particularly after his martyrdom, is not a secret to anybody.
Though this conversation with him has been a part of me ever since it took place, it took on an altogether new meaning after his death.
Particularly the moment his name was taken at the United Nations General Assembly and all across the world.
He had predicted he would make it only to the Indian Prime Minister’s table, but Allah had planned for his fame to spread way beyond that.
I often think how. Not how did he predict this, but how did it actually happen.
I get answers to my question in bits and pieces every day.
My answers come from people whose lives were touched in one way or the other by Burhan.
I am told he never harmed anybody despite the certain degree of power he wielded. Leave alone innocent people, he could not have harmed anyone any way. He even behaved well with police informers.
Some people tell me how he used to make police informers understand that what they had done was wrong.
I am told he gave police informers money in case they needed it.
“If you need money, take it from me. But please do not spoil your hereafter by informing on your own brethren. That is a great sin,” he used to tell these people.
He was never in favour of killing civilians and he could strongly differentiate between right and wrong.
He understood the fact that Khilafat was not a concept that can be grasped by watching a few videos. He knew how Maulana Maududi toiled for years before putting forth the concept.
Burhan understood the fact that there would have been no Kashmir dispute if there was no Pakistan, and he had a clear understanding of priorities.
He knew that the priority was independence from Indian occupation, and Khilafat, if at all, is the second step. He was mature enough, and that is why he was loved across Kashmir.
He is no more but he lives on, like he had predicted. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
(As narrated to Mohammad Suhail by Ghulam Ahmad Wani, Burhan Muzaffar’s grandfather. Wani has retired as Deputy Director in the Planning department of the J&K government. He lives with his son Muzaffar Wani, Burhan’s father)