Insha Latief / Nazima Sidiq
Ganderbal: Amongst all the children of the class, Tamana is the quietest. During break time, everyone plays after lunch, but Tamana keeps herself away from all such because she has been advised to avoid dust, smoke and direct sunlight in her eyes.
Not only this, as per her school teachers, she is irregular at school. She has to go outside the state every month for checkups and her treatment.
A teacher of hers, Zahoor Ahmed, said, “Usually she takes leave for 4-5 days a month. We don’t force her to be regular because we know what she has faced. How could we force her? At least she has returned to school.”
Tamana, a Class VI student, always sits at the front of her class because she is unable to see the board from benches further back. “I am not able to see things clearly from my left eye, and that hampers me in my studies. But my right eye is all fine,” Tamana told us.
Asked about the day she was fired upon with pellets, she became silent and looked down at her clenched fists. All she could say was, “My mother often cries when she looks at me and how it changed our life.”
Back at home, Shameema, her mother sits near the cooking stove and cooks their meal, her face reddened with the heat. The family has been living in this wooden shed for months now, without proper lighting or ventilation. The shed has two rooms. One is used as a kitchen as well as a sitting place, and the other is heaped with clothes and books.
Shameema said, “We had a small house, according to our liabilities. We also had a small patch of land nearby, but we had to sell it so we could arrange money for her treatment. We sold much of our household stuff, and this is all we are left with.”
Talking about Tamana, she said that she met with her injuries on 10 July, the third day after Burhan Wani was killed by government forces. There was heavy stone-pelting and shelling in the Tulmulla area of Ganderbal. Tamana had gone with her sister and mother to their neighbours’ to watch the stone pelting on the streets. “The government forces directed a pellet gun at her and fired many pellets. Some hit her in the face, near her nose and some in her left eye,” said Shameema.
Tamana was taken to SMHS Hospital where she didn’t show any improvement even after a surgery. Later she was taken to Amritsar where she was twice operated upon and managed to regain some vision. However, Tamana still has complaints of blood clotting in her eye and weakness in her body.
Looking at Tamana, Shameema said, “Before the incident, she was very witty but now she hardly talks to visitors. And when there is some noise outside, she gets scared and shouts. She thinks something may happen to her again.”
The family spares no pains to meet all she might want. “My husband, a labourer, is managing everything. We compromised on our things but never let her feel the absence of anything,” Shameema said.
It has been almost a year since Tamana last washed her face. As advised by the doctors at Amritsar, she has to avoid water. Shameema wipes her face with damp cotton and bathes her carefully so the money they have spent doesn’t go waste and Tamana has as good a chance at salvaging her sight as can be managed.