Conductor turned diviner | Rise of Kashmir
The ticket clerk spun far more than the tiries of ‘Sophocles’ saying “someone is waiting for you over there” I was surprised and started contemplating after saying “chai kithkian pata (How do you know) “I know, why people go there and the purpose too,” he replied with a smile. Mazda’s front seat, which was dark white in color with green straight lines like a rocket on each side having a white sheet edge on its windshield painted in beautiful Urdu calligraphy ‘Soura’ —- the driver shouting louder the neighborhoods that lie between “Lal-chock and Soura”. I was sitting in the front seat with a gray-haired, solemn-faced old lady wearing glasses—Her glasses would look like “Kutchu”, the protagonist of my 5th grade English lesson – A funny man, a clown thing.
The lady I was sitting with became an Arabic teacher soon after. I boarded the bus at Lal-chock around 9:30 am, just after my phone rang; flashing my aunt’s name on my black Android screen. My aunt had called me because; his driver had work to do; so, I had to drive the car home from Hazrat Mukdume shrine sahab. The coming saint in the medieval part of Kashmir, who has done a lot for Kashmir and one who suffered a lot during the “reign of checks” in the same region. People visit there for many reasons: some visit his memory, some to be healed and others to receive the blessings of rest, I was not known until then!
Like I gave him (the driver) the fare and he quickly left in order to collect among those who remained, his words had already borne the fruit of distrust in my mind and I had begun to contemplate the words he had spoken; the words had surprised me to a greater extent .
I had heard earlier that people could read the hands, foreheads or even the lines of their feet to reveal their destinies but, one can say the thing that one will do by taking the fare left me perplexed. Aep Kitab padtai bi hai ya logou ko impress kar nai kay leyaa haat mei rakhi hai,” (Do, are you really reading the books or is it to impress others) asked the lady who was sitting next to me on the right side . Although his question was genuine since I wasn’t focusing on the book, I was rather thinking deeply; Again and again. As I began to reveal to her that it was more than a test for me, she offered me a smile more than a consolation! “I teach Arabic and I am a lecturer, but where are you from? she asked. “I am a villager”. I said. “Really! You don’t look so. “Yes, I am,” I replied. ”And you didn’t understand what he told you?” she questioned again. Of course not, I really couldn’t understand what he was telling me. Meanwhile, the lady pronounced ‘Loitsa’ (stop), like; she had arrived where she was destined and say goodbye with a smile. I couldn’t understand that day why I was getting smiles. Either way, smiling is a healthy sign, they say.
And all of a sudden I seen a lady’s hand hanging over the iron bar, seeing that I’d let her have my seat so she could have some relief; so I was now near the conductor who flattered ‘Souver, Nousher, Hawal and much more… .
Soon he started chatting, soon he saw me next to him ‘Aj chei date’ (So you have a date today). And I was flushed like a ripe apple. The driver had thought; I was married Romeo to meet Juliet who made things clear earlier when he said he was aware of my reason for going there; as I had pronounced Mukhdoom Sahab instead of Hawal while handing the fare. “My aunt is waiting there and not everyone comes for that.” I said. Obviously I would have said a lot more but I had arrived at my destination so I disembarked and hastily rushed off. When I arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief because of the gigantic stairs. I saw all age groups there: old, young, children with both genres. Some were busy inside the masjid were reading the Holy Quran and others were circling around the shrine. I moved on and saw the girls brought up in white dresses with shoulder bags on their shoulders talking to the boys who were in uniform and not too much, sitting on the parapet there. “Their parents would think their boys are in school but they slander their parents’ names which they would hardly think of,” I say in my soliloquy.
Seeing this, I said to the man sitting in the window pane, whose name is ‘Resh’, what is this? He gave me a smile too and said “oaur gaech ni sanun”. Now I was mature enough to tell him how much they pay to have their prayers answered. He said it depends sometimes fifty and sometimes a little less or sometimes a lot more? “Why don’t you do something about it, tomorrow your daughter could repeat the same act, you know that” .I say “.You are right my son but I am helpless because others would fire me if I do what you mentioned”. he replied. “Oh! Do you know the life of the one who lay there, how austere he lived and for what he lived and what he endowed, do you really know anything about him or you come here because; this place is a money machine for you? » I said. You are right, my son, but I have a family to serve and I cannot starve them”. Where is your conscience man! Is it in a deep sleep or is it dead I. I mean, it’s dead since you’re not able to tell the difference between vice and virtue”. I said. Then I left it and continued, I saw the girls having fun with their friends at ‘Sheikh Saint’. With a smile, I left the place and was questioned by my aunt, why was I smiling? I replied that smiling is a good practice to adapt so you too must smile.
(The author is a Rising Kashmir writer and columnist. [email protected])