(Hey judges, so I handled war. I opted for war because that's something human beings could avoid. But the inner animal in the people is highly likely to rise due to the fuels called greed, power and plain foolishness. The presence of that cruel animal comes from a lack of love and abundance. If that inner animal is tamed or shown that there is love for it outside, it'd escape the shackles and will fly high into the sky. It'd experience freedom and peace just like the person in my story. Hope you like it…xxxx)
I walked in step with him silently mulling over the developments of the past few days. Kashmir has been in intense turmoil since the last two months; not that it hasn't been for the last few decades. The army was being callous and ruthless in hunting us down. But we are creatures of no shame. We keep on doing illegal activities: murder, murder and murder.
Just yesterday, I had seen a woman being killed in the most gruesome manner. The delicate skin has been torn by a tiny bullet. Blood gushed over from the tiny incision on the forehead and a fountain erupted from the airtight gap between the skin and the bullet. It flowed like a stream as it trailed along the ear and angry droplets fell on the boulder on which she lay. The narrow rivulets of blood streaked down the slope competing with one another to arrive first; finally they realized that if united they stand strong and merged at the bottom forming a pool; I had stood there fascinated by the journey of the blood until it touched my bare feet. The smell and touch of human blood had shocked my awed mind and caused tremors in me. I had whipped around and fled. I see that every day.
Realizing I had reached my destination, I stopped. A hard push ensued as Abdul hadn't noticed I had stopped; he was in his own mind too. I fell on the sharp stones beneath resulting in bruises and scrapes and some blood of my own. Poetic justice I guess. My blood was often spilled due to my clumsiness; I'd like to believe it will neutralize the blood my husband had spilled although in my own small way. Abdul swore loudly and kicked me just as I was about to get up. This time I fell on my back and hurt my spine unable to stop the unexpected blow. I cried in agony rubbing my back gingerly. "Hmm…" he grunted. I had brought him near the waterfall to talk to him and he was getting impatient because of my delay.
"Why don't you leave this life?" I asked the oft-repeated question which earned me a well aimed kick on my side. I began to cry. It was unbearable; the life of constant change, struggle and murder. My husband killed people for the greater good. It was his job. Abdul was a terrorist. "Shut it!" he screamed catching my shoulder and hauling me up. A few seconds later, I ended up on the hard ground with my cheek stinging.
"Abdul, please, your son...Do it at least for him," I pleaded, "he thinks his father is a good man."
"So you think I'm the villain," he growled loudly bending low on me and slapping my other cheek, "you never change, eh? Always play the victim, eh?" I shielded my face from his vicious blows all the while crying.
Allah, give me strength, I pleaded my God. The reminiscence of God brought back memories of the old lady with impossible dreams. Be calm, I remembered my first lesson. I abruptly stopped crying. Be strong, my second lesson. I caught his raised hand with one fluid motion. Be intelligent, my third lesson. I jumped up and pushed him with all my might. I wasn't stronger than him but the severe shock he experienced at my random behavior weakened him. I took it to my advantage. I gritted my teeth and shoved him again.
"Listen to me," my voice sounded strained and dangerous, "I don't want to fight you. You are my husband. For the sake of my children, leave the job."
"I can't leave," he whispered edgily, "I'd die. Will that be better?"
"Sure," I said without flinching, "a dead terrorist is way better than a living one."
With that he regained his anger, "you whore! I'll cut your tongue out!"
By that time, both of us moved a foot apart and were screaming on top of our lungs. No one bothered us though. It was normal there. Scuffles were a part of life in this testosterone fuelled existence of ours.
"No, you shit! I whored for you! Because you were a good man and now, you became the worst man ever. I'll kill you if you become any worse," I screeched slapping his face even though it stung my heart. Immediately, closing the distance between us, I embraced him tightly willing his heart to melt. I was playing good cop, bad cop.
"Please Abdul, I love you," I stammered, "You need to think." I held him and cried for what seemed like an eternity. He on his part hadn't said a word. He just closed his arms around me and kissed my hair. I pulled away and showed him my tear-streaked face. I looked straight into his eyes shaking with the burden of it all, "you are good. I know it. You'd be the man who would change the face of the war. If you give a chance I'd fulfill your dream of free Kashmir. Trust me, just stop the worst in you," I murmured passionately. I hugged him again gently unwilling to let go until it was dusk.
Eight years later,
"Sakina!" he called from the porch. "Coming!" I looked away from the half-written letter before me. I set my pen down and walked out the door. "Ji?" I enquired finding him on the porch steps overlooking the splendid valley below, "Oh gosh! You are still admiring the photo. It's been a month." "He's my son," he shrugged holding out his arms wide. Shaking my head, I stepped into the kitchen simultaneously walking down memory lane. It had taken more than that discussion to convince him. But as I persevered, he changed slightly. In time, he began opening up to me. It took him three years to understand that all the war didn't bring freedom to his land; that the issue wasn't in his hands; that the issue didn't need war. He killed many people in that while. It took me another two years to finally convince him to stop playing his part in the war. More people had died. By that time, all members of our cell have been considerably softened by their respective mothers or wives whilst the peace talks between the two countries began bearing fruits. Three years later, Salim had gone to Delhi University and he received a medal for his efforts and initiatives for peace in Kashmir. That's the picture Abdul had been looking at since the news article came out a month ago. Just then the phone rang. I wiped my tears away and rushed through the length of our small cottage, "hello!" I breathed expecting his voice. "Momma! How are you?" "Abdul," I cried, "it's Salim." Abdul laughed loudly and waddled into to the living room. "Ah! Salim beta!" he boomed proudly. I settled onto the rocking chair we bought last week and rocked away till dusk watching the two people I loved most in my mind's eye - my foster mother and the old lady of impossible dreams; incidentally, both are the same. Alhamdulillah.