“Ajj Darya-e-Jhelum mai ek aur na maloom afraad ki laash payi gayi”

(Today, another unidentified person’s corpse was found in river Jhelum) narrated broadcaster on radio as usual, while Sahil was near the window of kitchen, taking a sip of Noon Chai, he looked at the gloomy ambiance that was overcast. Identity card on the windowsill caught his eyes ,he grabbed it and put in the pocket of his vest.Now, he went into the park and sat in the middle, got a cigarette out of the pocket and took heavy puffs. He looked at the birds flitting and chirping in the open blue with no barricades, checkpoints and restrictions. He compared himself and his countrymen with these birds and sighed, ‘They are at least Azad’. In the meantime Azan sounded from nearby mosque, he hurriedly stubbed it out and went to do ablation. He went to Mosque for ASR*(one of the five mandatory Salah). After prayer, he strolled along the banks of Jhelum. The golden color of fall had draped the surface of his homeland. As if stains of innocent blood were underneath these golden leaves. There were few outsiders tromping on these leaves. One of them said ‘ This is the Vale of Gold’. On hearing this, Sahil scoffed and sighed “Ahhhhh Vale of Tears, it is”

Now, he was tired, and he sat down with a small book in his right hand that lay in his lap. He blinked at the flow of Jhelum for a while. When he turned to his left, his eyes got filled with tears and next he was lost in a deep thought. Some blissful moments spent with his brother Firdaus from the past popped up into his head. When Sahil had to go to college, Firdaus used to take him there on his bike. While saying goodbye, Firdaus would send a smile to Sahil. In the evening, he used to await Sahil with the same smiling face. Both brothers used to go to nearby playground and play with each other. Then they would go to orchards and stole almonds or apples. They used to sit together along the banks of Jhelum at dusk. Firdaus used to sit on the left side of Sahil and Sahil used to put his head on his shoulder that provided him ephemeral peace. Once Firdaus sarcastically told Sahil some profound words “ Sahil you know what! I want to fly over these mountains , I want to see the world behind them, but I am afraid of those wild beasts that have occupied these beautiful mountains that they might snatch my life. Their claws are drenched with blood of beloveds of the land. It’s not a home but a cage”.

Aloof Sahil on the banks of Jhelum hadn’t even thought in dreams that the merciless beasts would snatch his brother from him. Sahil was thinking about all these moments and in the meantime tears rolled down his cheeks. He turned to Jhelum and said, “Jhelum, why and how are you so strong? You have seen tears falling from the eyes of the people of this land. You have witnessed bloodbaths, you have seen murder of innocents. Furthermore, you are witness to the pang of this desolate land”. After saying this, a wide rose from jhelum as if it listened to the words of Sahil and sighed in pain.

Now, Sahil got up, took a deep breath amidst still environment. He trampled dead leaves of chinar that were on the top of Chinar with pride before the arrival of ‘Fall’. When Sahil got in the middle of the street a scary line ‘Show your identity card’ written on a nearby ‘wall of kindness’, brought tears to his eyes. On that Street filled with scary concertina wire and barricades, aloof and distressed Sahil was walking with insurmountable pain and eyes filled with tears. Now he reached a graveyard and stopped in front of a grave. He started trembling. He opened that small book that Firdaus had gifted him on his birthday. When he opened it, a small note fell on the ground from the middle of the book, on which ‘From Your Beloved Brother Firdaus’ was written. When Sahil read it, he fell on his knees and started crying as if rain was raining from the sky. At a distance, on the road, a dusty barricade was placed with words ‘ Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast’ (If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here) that had become meaningless for Sahil because his Firdaus was brutally snatched from him. Now distressed, Sahil started mumbling ‘Firdaus Ab Na Raha’(Firdaus is no more).

This story is entirely based on fiction.

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