Four-year-old Furqan picks up his slain father’s mobile phone and starts asking for him
Lassipora (Pulwama): The day passes in gloom and then the evening brings dread for the Mir family living in Alaypora village of Lassipora, here in Pulwama district. It is the time when four-year-old Furqan starts asking where his father is.
His father, a humble man who polished copper utensils for a living, was killed during an encounter in nearby Litter village on October 14. Villagers in Litter alleged that the government forces had fired directly at him, but the police maintained that Gulzar was killed in “cross-fire”.
A narrow lane adjacent to the village graveyard leads into a vast courtyard where stands the one-storey house of 65-year-old Sanaullah Mir, a retired farmer.
Mir gave up farming after he married his 35-year-old daughter Sakeena to Gulzar. He insisted that they live with him, so that he could shift the responsibility of the family upon the “able” shoulders of Gulzar.
Now that those shoulders, and the lone earning hand, have gone, the family stares at a bleak future. Mir seems to have understood the gravity of the situation he is in.
Preparing his hookah, the old frail man says his world has been devastated in a matter of hours.
“He left for Litter that day, early in the morning. He intended to bring some utensils home and polish them here, because of the encounter (going on at Litter),” Mir said. “A couple of hours later, we were told he is dead. We are yet to believe he is beneath the soil now.”
While speaking, Mir steals occasional glances at his daughter, who has her gaze set on the floor.
“She has hardly spoken since. It tears my heart when I think what has befallen her,” Mir told Kashmir Reader. “Yes, we are all devastated, but it is her, and Furqan, who have their whole lives ahead of them. I don’t know she had done to deserve this.”
Mir and his wife Sara Bano say that Gulzar had been more than a son for them.
“I guess the good ones are taken early,” Sara said. “With him around, we felt protected. He took care of us like one does of his own parents.”
While the family is going through the most difficult of the times and everyone is in mourning, the most challenging part of the ordeal is handling Furqan.
The family told Kashmir Reader that every evening Furqan picks up his father’s mobile phone and starts asking for him.
“His wails in the evening are unbearable. The only thing he needs is his father, but nobody in the world can give him that,” a relative of Mir said.
Furqan is unable to comprehend what has befallen him. He has been growing restless with each passing day. “We don’t know how to console him and what to tell him to make him feel better. I have come to fear evenings now,” Mir said.
The family says they don’t know whose bullet killed Gulzar, but they want justice to be delivered, at least for the sake of Furqan.
“I am an old man and I cannot look after them forever. I hope and pray that Sakina and Furqan get a dignified life,” Mir said.
“Gulzar was a pious man who was out at a time when bullets were being fired, only to keep his family fed. Is it not unfair that such a man is shot dead and nobody bats an eyelid?” Mir asks.
The family awaits justice, like countless others in Kashmir. Meanwhile in the graveyard, besides the narrow alley, a fresh grave is being adorned with a couple of Pakistan flags wrapped around a tin shelter built over it.