They were like regular kids. Noor was in the early phase of her teenage and Jaan was still some years away from this phase. So quite natural, it was not possible that their big beautiful house could have been saved from the screams and fights of the young brigade. Nazia and Ahmad spent their day in their colleges juggling the college kids and once they return home there always was the task of convincing either Noor or Ahmad to forget the latest fight or the one which just ended. After every hour or two there was the possibility of next one. Poor Noor sometimes tried to spare her little brother and ignore him, but Jaan never left any stone unturned to instigate her sister and get beaten, obviously.
Ahmad never shouted at his kids; Nazia had to be strict with kids sometimes.
“One day, I will leave this world, then at least you would learn to live together and behave “
Kids hated this emotional torture. The moment Nazia would prepare to say “One day…..” and kids would crawl to their respective rooms.
Ahmad was perfect father for his kids, but only thing he would regret all his life that he would not be able to play football with his Jaan, whose eyes were always hoping for a champion’s shot from his father.
Ahmad met with an accident, the year Jaan was born. Accident made one of his legs lifeless. But he never stepped back from his commitments which he made to his wife and his children. In fact he always put extra efforts to keep his beautiful family happy and fulfilled.
Everything in the family was usual and moving smoothly except few disturbances from the kids. But the world outside their house was changing terribly. Some geographical divisions which were created by the late leaders of the nation, those divisions proved to be more worthy than lives of human beings living on the same land. A war had started over the right authority of the land, didn’t matter whether anybody would remain alive to enjoy the prosperity of the land or not!
Tall and handsome Ahmad was the guardian of a very beautiful family, but changing atmosphere would make him tense sometimes. “Shall I be able to protect my family when they will enter our land ….” These visions were getting horrible day by day; the more he listened to the causalities in the nearby village, the more he entered the darker part of his vision.
People who could arrange money were leaving the place and those who could not, either resolved to protect themselves or die.
Ahmad and Nazia also arranged the money to escape the state and move to some safer zone. Children were asked to stay at home and lock their doors until Ahmad and Nazia didn’t return from college. They went to collect some official papers which could help them to fetch new jobs in new place.
Keeping the doors closed kids kept waiting for their parents, but that familiar knock on the door was never heard again.
In a matter of seconds, those innocent kids of Ahmad and Nazia turned orphans. Their parents were said to be died in bombing attack near College. Few items which were recovered from the spot were identified with Noor and in absence of any immediate relatives who could take the charge of kids, those kids became the part of thousands of kids living in the refugee camps along the coastal line. Time flew with its speed………………It is said “Time heals everything”. But some wounds do irreparable damages and even leave deep scars to remind the horrible phase.
Now Noor is used to shifting her so-called home regularly, from the last one and half years. But Jaan has no liking towards this sudden shifting. His mind always travels to those memories from his Haveli where he was the most pampered child of his large family. But now in this large terrain, he has nothing to cherish, neither his Haveli nor that large family. Only thing he could retain after that fateful afternoon is, Noor. And he doesn’t want to let her go out of his sight. So, the 10-year-old Jaan has matured very soon. He has buried all those dreams and tantrums of a 10-year-old kid somewhere in the same Haveli where the remains of his family are buried. Somewhere in his head he has grown to an elder brother who has pledged to protect his sister at any cost.
The 15-year-old Noor and her 10-year-old brother troll around with other kids. Water is a big issue in this area because every time they have to wash their hands they have to go to the nearest hand pump. Devoid of children’s fundamental demands in their childhood, these kids only know to search for their food for at least two times a day and to keep themselves safe. In the barren land, hopes of Noor are still alive that she deserves a much better life and capable of providing the same to her brother. She is learning photography through a volunteer driven organization and she is extremely good at it. Photographs clicked by Noor have also been published at an online website through the guidelines and support provided by the volunteers. Against all the odds, she is hopeful for their future.
And one day against the promise which the brother and sister made to each other, Noor can’t protect herself and fell into the hands of some monsters. She cried like anything, she knows that her kiddo brother would fail to save her but other than Jaan she could not recall anything else in her consciousness.
Jaan has been looking for her sister for an hour. Tears have rolled out of his eyes. Cursing and praying to Lord, suddenly he heard her voice. Jaan is a kid but grown up and responsible kid. He has understood that his little body isn’t enough to protect her sister, so immediately he called upon his neighbors to their mercy. Noor has been rescued but with some injuries. Brother and sister thanked their saviors and silently moved from there.
Black clouds have covered the sky and children are dancing with joy that they will dance in the expected rainfall. It is a big change from their usual boredom.
Along the lake Noor and Jaan are sitting with dried tears upon their cheeks. Perhaps both are travelling in their own world of imaginations. Imaginations which have crossed all the boundaries of God’s restrictions and reaches to Ahmad and Nazia. Ever since Nazia and Ahmad have left the world, travelling in the world of imaginations where the presence of their father and mother is unrestricted, is their favorite escape route to pamper their little hearts and gain the courage to live again.
Jaan comes out of his dreams when droplets of rain fell through his eyes, upon his checks. But Noor was still lost.
After a long hour of silence, Jaan spoke.
“Didi, why this has happened? What had we done? What Maa and Baba had done? “
I don’t know…why?
You have all the answers in this world. Tell me!!!
What shall I tell you? Please go away.
Didi, please tell me something that soothes my heart. I can’t survive with this pain.
(Noor can’t withstand with this sentence.)
“You know Jaan, when you were a little kid, you never paid any attention to me. Never! You used to fight with me like a warrior. Infact, we both were least tolerant of each other. Sometimes Maa turned so furious while handling idiots like us. Probably, this is the reason we are left alone to learn to love each other and take care of each other. Maa and Baba needed rest so they have been taken away by god and granted all the happiness and blessings. Anyway, what do you feel? Its better that they have been taken away by lord, if they could have survived they would die every breathe, watching us in this condition. “
“Hmm…Didi you are right, it’s better that they are not here to watch us running for food. And Baba could not have even run for food, and what would have happened to Maa! They didn’t deserve this forever suffering. This is written for us, but I only pray to God that you remain with me, forever. Now I have learnt to love you and respect you.”
“Please do not separate us, I am not a bad boy”. Jaan is sobbing in front of Noor with his folded hands and closed eyes. She takes her brother in her arms and promises to remain by his side, forever.
I don’t know how longer such brother and sister who promised to be with each other survive in the barren land. But nobody deserves this day when a sister has to justify the death of their parents to her younger brother to protect him and keep his trust alive in God.
This piece of writing just came out of my own imagination, recollecting the reflections of events around the world. I always pray and hope that reflections should never appear again because it is very painful to document. I always wish that this should never be the truth of anyone’s life, but I don’t know how many brothers and sisters are experiencing this horrible phase all over the globe. Because we are living in a world where the value of human breath is much cheaper in comparison to land which is meant to be lived upon.
I just finished with the book ” Into the thin air”. I was willing to read some good stuff on mountaineering and mountains for a long time. While selecting this book, I did not pay much attention to the reviews and ratings, somehow the title of the book hit the chords.
Certainly, high altitude climbing is much more about the struggle of human survival against the diminishing oxygen. Every materialistic desire at the pinnacle seems futile. I wonder about this amazing feeling which is attained after bearing all the physical and mental breakage and sometimes even risking lives. It is appalling to read that towards the summit of Mt. Everest, climbers find the scattered human bodies, which will continue to mark their presence till the death of the universe. Perhaps there is no second chance to rectify the mistakes at a height of more than 28000 ft. It feels terrifying to continue with a journey that might ends up with some known fate. One starts a journey with twelve , and ends up with four ; but still the zest for conquering the summit is alive and the ascent continues. I guess this fearless attitude is only vital to mark the beginning of the ascent. But being fearless is not the only tool; there are some of the most brutal prices which one must pay to claim the presence on the highest point of Earth. Sometimes mountaineers make the toughest decision of leaving the living bodies alone on those heights, the bodies which are trapped under snow and just marking the presence of few signs of life. At such situations, it become necessary to negotiate the quantity of human lives which could be saved at the risk of just one. It seems cruel to leave someone to get killed just because at the cost of one, many other lives could be saved! But it is heart wrenching to imagine someone in that brutal and helpless situation. I guess these are all the prices which need to be paid to conquer the zenith because nothing comes without price. Watching our own body parts getting paralyzed and unresponsive are something which cannot be explained in writings but these are the emotional struggles for which these warriors are also well prepared.
“I conquered Everest not through my feet but through my brain” – I heard this from one of the best mountaineers in the history and it is so true. It is not only the struggle against physical potential but more about the struggle against mental strength. While reading this book, I cannot figure out the thin line between obsession and passion, for the mountains. I guess that such line doesn’t exist at those heights. It just vanishes .
It is so inspiring to know about the mountaineers who claim the highest summits on the Earth. I believe it teaches everything, right from the leadership and team building skills to never – say – die attitude.
So let’s conquer those peaks and master our own fear.
I didn’t google much about the Kashmir unrest before deciding to visit the valley. I think, had I given a second thought, I would have stepped back. But so
Ever since I visited this land, it feels that whatever has been written or described about this land is not sufficient to justify the cosmic beauty of Valley of Kashmir. War over the geographical boundaries could not destroy the blessed beauty of nature. Moving through the valley seems like moving through the path which is covered by snow laden mountains all around the corners. View of Himalayan mountains and the constant companionship of river Jhelum would never leave anyone alone. Sometimes humming and sometimes roaring, but the presence of Jhelum would always be there. Leaves of Chinar are as fascinating to watch as it always feels while reading about them in the books. For me, it is like unfolding the pages from my books. I wish I could have also seen the apples in the apple valley, white flowers have covered the entire orchards. It is so exciting to imagine the presence of apples in those orchards, just in a few months. And there is not one or two orchards, but there is valley called apple valley while going to Pahalgam. While driving through the valley, I feel that those perfect paintings and photographs in the books and websites are part of my vision too.
Tulips, I have seen them alive for the first time in my life and I fall in love with them. Massive collection of Tulips in almost every color I can imagine it to be, are there. There are rows after rows dedicated to different colors of Tulips. Forget the colors, there are also contrast in the color combinations of these flowers. When you follow the end of these tulip’s rows, your eyes would meet the clouds almost dropping down from the mountains. When you follow these clouds, you would meet the snow-covered zenith of Himalayan ranges. That’s like a never-ending process, seems like treasure to the eyes and peace to the mind. But above all, solace to the soul comes from the warm approach and hospitality of the local people. In a true sense, they treat their guests as their God, as per our own tradition. They are delighted to receive you as their guests. I stayed with a local family for few days I spent in Kashmir and I would never forget the honor and happiness which they expressed by making me as a part of them for those days. Geographical boundaries have not succeeded to create any marking or boundary in the thoughts of normal people who want to be the part of normal lives.
History and future, both the aspects of this valley are soulful. War over geographical boundaries have injured the lives of normal people. Kashmir is said to be heaven on Earth and off course the natural blessings to this land is divine which is even difficult to document. But the common civilians who want to be the part of common lives shall never be judged and given the opportunity to be the part of them. It is dreadful to live in an environment that is constantly under the rage of fire. Paradise on the Earth cannot be remained as paradise until or unless the population of beautiful human beings living under the roof of Himalayas start living like any other human being in different part of the same country. Then I guess that this saying would be true in real sense “People call it heaven; we call it home “
The strength of character has always attracted me and in a Woman the same strength uplifts the beauty by inducing invincible confidence. I always find this more enchanting than anything else. While creating this vision , I tried experimenting with my imagination and some inspiration found here and there.
I tried creating different shades but with the same wonderful source of strength.
“Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going” .
I read it somewhere and instantly I discovered my motivation for participating in 21 Km Marathon. Certainly for ‘not so regular runner’, like me it is definitely a challenge to complete 21 km track in a decent time. I had always ran 10 km and it had never been the question of ” DO or Die” for me but completing 21 km marathon seemed to me somewhere the same. I really wanted to challenge my own potential but on that particular note. Honestly I had the feeling that I am all eagerly ready to bear that physical pain which I face after completing 10 Km. And this time in more than double doses and might be worse than that. But I was sure that I was unnecessarily getting apprehensive about it because being an avid trekker I never faced such occasions much (Do or Die one). So with complete self-motivation I ran on final day. Since I had the practice for 10 km so half of the distance didn’t cost me much. But after that the same mental blockage started building up. “Oh my God! , you have to run the same distance again , with this high-speed breath and perfectly tired feet “ . And this mental blockage was creating the perfect scene for giving up. But I was not at all ready to leave it incomplete anywhere. I gathered all my thoughts to those memories in the mountains and hills where I trek around tirelessly in the rough terrain for 4-5 hours or sometimes even longer than that. I kept myself isolated from my own negative visuals and continued running.Of course I was tired after sometime but never thought of giving up . I completed my track of 21 km in perfectly decent time and decent shape.
So, I can never deny from the well explained and well-intended meaning of these beautiful lines but definitely a powerful one.- “Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going” .
History has its own beauty which is always vintage. No matter how rugged everything looks , but there is always a legendary feel attached to it. I think beauty lies in the stories hidden beneath these structures. Beauty of the historical places need to be decoded from the stories and the feelings attached to these stories.
I went to Amer Fort in Rajasthan , few days back. I think the feeling of royalty touched upon me , the moment I saw the staircases towards the Fort. And then, the huge and massive structures and the historical figures and stories attached to those structures , everything makes the place a historical treat. Amer Fort is recognized by the name of Raja Man Singh and his descendants . Even after centuries we retell the stories of the king , descendants, family and everything attached to him because everything is intricated in these structures, somewhere. Such places have the quality of taking us to that era and feel the essence of that genre.
When the call of mountain arises, it become irresistible to ignore the calling. Sometimes I wonder that what else we achieve other than the serene beauty of nature, after conquering the peak with all the bruises and physical pain. And it comes straightforward that is the immense satisfaction of conquering our own challenges and fear. This journey itself teaches us lot many things, in a nutshell probably the journey of life where we walk, run, trip, arise, have fun and sometimes set apart from loved ones, but subconsciously we all are moving towards own goal in our own path. Certainly, this is the reason I enjoy hiking because somewhere it relaxes the nerves of brain to relate to new things which we casually ignore and never feel related to in our daily lives.
Recently I went to Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Although I was excited to deal with the snow but unfortunately snowfall started the day I left the place. But there is something in the aroma of hills and mountains that ultimately soothes my nerves. And I guess it happens with everyone. This is some sort of meditation which is difficult to explain in words.
Nature has its various versions of beauty but I always have crush for its raw version of beauty which is found in watching the sunrise and sunset sitting on the edge of a cliff. And I am sure its worth all the attention and pain endured to reach this.
Life is a treasure of beautiful opportunities and blessings if we really seek to create one. And in the long run, these blessings add to some unforgettable memories in the chapters of our life.
Our World is beautiful and humanity is the greatest contribution, in an effort to save this beauty. I believe, volunteering injected this belief in me, in a far stronger way than I have always tried to apprehend this.
When I decided to volunteer for Lighthouse project (non-profit initiative) , I was sure that this will add to new learnings and experiences in my life. But in actual when I really onboarded the journey, it was more than just an experience.
At the training session of the program, we all volunteers were provided with an envelope containing the details of our mentees. With a sense of responsibility, I joined this program. But, the moment I removed the form from the envelope, bright face of a very young girl in the passport size photo met my eyes. All of a sudden, the value and sensitivity of my commitment banged my head. A feeling that, this innocent face and kind smile needed all my sincere efforts. Later on, I came to know about her background and the background of other students as well. And certainly, moments like this, make me more humble and thankful towards almighty, instead of being a difficult child for him. Living in my own space has never been a big deal for me, this is something that I always took for granted. But this is a privilege to the uncountable population in our country. It is well said that the hardships and struggles of life carve strong character out of a human. The urge to come out of the darkness becomes so strong that it pushes to reach the heights which are a dream to many of us. Well, this was only day-1 but filled me with lots of inspiration and compassion.
One week later came the day 2 – Somewhere; it was in my head that it would be fun since it was an ice breaking session. And seriously, I believe that we (me and my mentee) melted all the gap between us and major contribution goes to the little girl who never let me feel that I was a new member in her world. The sweet and kind smile was an indication of warm reception which made me comfortable to start our conversation. As instructed, we were supposed to know about each other. I briefed her about me and then she started about herself. Well, forget about the hardships of her life, this is the thing which I knew very well before meeting her and evaluating her on the account of her hardships; I don’t think that child needs all these things to identify her. Well, I told her about my profession and asked about her aspirations. Very energetically she declared “Didi, I want to be an archaeologist and a filmmaker”. Seriously, I was not prepared for this reply; we are so much used to the preconceived notion that anything out of the box surprises us; at least for me, it was quite an amazement. And very true to her aspiration, she was fond of history and arts. I really appreciate that a 13-year-old kid was able to neatly distinguish her likes and dislikes.Once done with a formal introduction, special activities were designed by lighthouse team to enforce the trust and warmth between the mentor and mentee pair. And that was real fun and I overjoyed the moment of sharing a very little part of my life with her. Life is long and, in comparison, the time which I am contributing to her is almost nothing. But these few hours were full of real laughter and fun that will remain with me forever.
I am anxiously looking for rest of the journey, and these blissful moments are going to leave some irreplaceable impressions in my life, which will continue to challenge me with its innocence.