Child of Conflict

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At this time he is just seven and half year old, but speaks like a boy of twice his age. I can intellect how these times have overcastted his exquisite childhood with the horrible blanket of oppression. His early days fighting the ugly bars, his eyes ache to meet the heaven, his legs too eager to dive across the finishing line. But something is there, profusely lurking inside his pure mind, one can undeniably encounter that something, then splendid, worn-out and swept into the vortex of embittered passion. I asked him a simple question and he narrated a novel in reply.
He sat in front of me like a Soun-Gobur (an excellent son) though indeed a Razeel-Kot (fanatical boy) in actual fact is he, landed his little buttocks on a cushion, with a magnet of shattered radio-set in his hands. His face giving the impression of being frozen, I heard he did not associate with any of his partners-in-stupidities, avoiding their every encrypted call – which only he could perceive, pass up every conversation and gathering in home thus retreating himself into his garret. A few more minutes passed and he broke the silence, so poured his heart out, brother ji; why Mummy is not permitting me to go out to play on hillock? Hillock is a place where in winter he would do Rekeen – Skiing and Shin-Jung – Snow Fight, in summer he would play cricket and in autumn he would fly kites out there. He holds a remarkable resemblance with Khalid Hosseini’s “Kite Runner”.
At first I thought to let the question melt inside him but on his asking yet again, I couldn’t bring myself to standstill. Jaani the condition is not as it used to be these days so for some days you have to play in the lane. I knew it’ll make him sadder; however, he understood all this entirely and realized that I too am powerless to support him. The stun and hurt his face expressed hacked me to death. His tear full glares fell on my face with the weight and effect of an axe. Suddenly he jumped up from the cushion in an irrepressible impulse, I know why Mum is not allowing me to go to hillock because Army wol – Forces there would shoot me with pellet and then like Insha Didi I have to put on black goggles. Who is this Insha Didi I asked ( acting like I know nothing about her); I saw her on TV some days back, she was wearing the black specs on account of being hit by pellet he said; my heart seemed to cease its work for a moment. Nothing such would happen to you Jaani I said; with a pseudo smirk. He further asked, why our teachers write lies in our books, if 26th January is the day of independence for us why I feel like prisoner that day (unaware of the fact that it is not done by his teachers). Why Mum didn’t let me go to marketplace that morning? Why Abba didn’t open the shop that day? I still bear in my mind that Mummy didn't let him go to masjid for Fajr Salah that morning? My silence happened to become the answer as the genuine reply died beneath my throat. I thought who has planted such questions in his feeble mind. And I gradually but irresistibly began to feel how embarrassing it would be for me now to raise my head and look straight into his eyes.
I was about to lie, to tell him that there is nothing like, he think, a prisoner. But I said straight out to him all about the predicaments – the sheer truth, which startled the bedrock of his childhood out of its innocence. This is how our childhood develops into the boyhood and then one day disappears – leaving neighbors with another subject to chat about in every gossip and family with an uncompleted wait and then some day comes back in a pool of blood and writing an end to the story.
Not even the childhood is spared from the impact of conflict. Our childhood is disfigured, maimed, traumatized and what not. I never conceived of childhood as anything but a struggle. I have now reached such a spot that I can apparently think our craving, our yen, our dream to soar past the territories of subjugation consists precisely of the endowment rightly to browbeat it. Our life is night – we are praying for our Muhammad bin Qasim to arrive and our sun to rise.
(Pomposh Aalam is pursuing Masters in English Literature in North Campus, Kashmir University)

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