After two years in Srinagar hospital, Zakir picking up threads slowly back home

After two years in Srinagar hospital, Zakir picking up threads slowly back home
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The Tamilian had arrived on a short trip, but ended up in hospital

Afra Fathima
Srinagar: A strange separation has ended after two years between Zakir Ahmad, 35, and his family in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu.
In a twist of fate, a sojourn to Kashmir with a Tableegi jamaat for Zakir two years back, become a cause of separation, as Zakir lost his mental balance somewhere, and ended up in a metal health facility in Srinagar.
Zakir Ahmad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Srinagar, two years ago. He had been admitted to the mental health institute on the orders of Additional District Magistrate of Kargil, where Zakir had been found roaming in a vagabond-like state. When his family in Tamil Nadu was contacted, they refused to take him, saying they couldn’t afford to pay for his travel from Kashmir to Vellore.
Since then, Zakir had been staying in the mental health institute. Earlier this month, a non-governmental organisation in Srinagar, Athrout, sponsored Zakir’s travel expenses and made sure that he reached home safely and conveniently.
“I am glad to be back. I am fine now, but I am unable to articulate properly. I find that my hearing ability, too, has become weak. So, I find it difficult to narrate and explain everything to my family,” Zakir told Kashmir Reader over phone.
“I haven’t forgotten anything. I remember all the days spent in Kashmir and also the incidents prior to it. Kashmir has done a lot of good to me and I am very grateful,” he said.
Now Zakir is trying to re-start his life from scratch. He has started working as a shelf-stocker at a shoe store in Vellore.
Zakir’s father, Nazeer Ahmad, said he was glad to have his son back. “We are all happy to see him, and we are grateful to the doctors, the Athrout members, and the media for helping our son,” he said. However, there was a tinge of disappointment in his tone as he continued saying, “He hasn’t told us anything about what had happened to him in Kashmir, and is unwilling to say so despite us questioning him several times.”
According to Nazeer, Zakir became inclined towards religion after completing a diploma in mechanical engineering. He decided to join “peaceful religious sects”. Zakir said he found more peace in the path he chose, and that path led him to Kashmir.
Nazeer said that he is worried for Zakir, who is the eldest of five siblings but as yet unsettled in life. He said the family is also concerned about Zakir’s incoherence in speech.