A Strange Call From Kashmir Gave Me Information About my Parents
Like any other Kashmiri, I was confused and anxious. I had no clue what was happening.
Like any other Kashmiri, I was confused and anxious. I had no clue what was happening. (Photo: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)

A Strange Call From Kashmir Gave Me Information About my Parents

“Did you have food?” she asked.

“Yes mumma, I did! I'm out right now, will call you later,” I replied.

That was the last conversation I had with my mother before the communication blackout in Kashmir. While people were celebrating the so-called historic decision of abrogation of Article 370, I was frantically dialling every number I had on my phone to get in touch with my parents or relatives back in Kashmir.

Like any other Kashmiri, I was confused and anxious, I had no clue what was happening. All I wanted at that point of time was to hear my parents voice. But somewhere in my heart, I knew that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. After all, I am a Kashmiri, and I know how things work there.

Also Read : ‘Eid Wasn’t Happy At All’: A Kashmiri Girl’s Ordeal Post Art 370

My friends here in Delhi, kept consoling me and telling me that everything will be fine. But they failed to understand how I felt. I don't blame them, they are as ignorant as everyone else.

On the seventh day of the communication blackout, I received a text from a random, unknown number early in the morning, saying that my parents will be travelling to Delhi. I immediately replied, but there was no answer. I even tried calling the number, but the call didn't go through. I kept wondering if the message was true or was someone trying to prank me.

A Call From A Stranger

Later in the afternoon, on that very day, I got a call from a stranger who informed me that my parents will be travelling to Delhi and gave me the flight details. I was desperate for more information, I wanted to know if they were fine.

But all that the caller said was “I can’t say anything” and hung up. I was confused and couldn’t understand what exactly was happening. To be honest, it was really creepy but at the same time, the phone call also gave me some hope.

Also Read : Hanging onto Hope, Like My Kashmiri Friends Have Taught Me

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The next day, I did go to the airport at the time I had been told. My parents did arrive on the flight. I was thrilled and felt that I am seeing them after ages. My mother's eyes were moist and so were mine. But the smile and happiness on their faces was short-lived, because they knew their other son is still in Kashmir. My younger brother, Rahat, refused to leave his home.

I couldn’t control my curiosity and kept asking questions about Kashmir. But all my parents said was, “Hope things become better soon. Kashmiris have been caged.”

They were physically with me, but mentally, they were in Kashmir – their home.

Even though they were with me, I was very uncertain about the future. I kept telling my father, “pata nahi abh kya hoga?” (Don’t know what will happen now), “Sab theek hoga, yeh sab hum 90’s seh dekh rahein hain. Kashmiriyun ko aadat hai ab,” he replied. (trans. “Everything will be fine. We have been seeing this since the 90s. Kashmiris are used to this now.”)

My mother often wondered about how Rahat was doing. She kept saying, “Don't know if Rahat has had tea and lunch.” When my mother was in Kashmir, she was worried about me and while she was with me in Delhi, she is worried about Rahat. Can you imagine as a mother, what she must have gone through?

A Flavourless Eid

It was Eid and we didn’t even realise it. There was nothing special about it. I couldn't even wish my brother or grandparents, “Eid Mubarak.” It was like any other day for us, nothing felt special. Mumma even got my favourite pastries, sweets and even wazwan but it was all in vain. This Eid was flavourless for us and for all Kashmiris. I would never want anyone to go through this.

Also Read : My Letter Went From Delhi to Kashmir but Didn’t Reach My Mother

Initial days were traumatic. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I got nightmares. I was emotionally devastated and I had all reasons to feel so.

My cousins living abroad kept calling and asking me more information and it was very difficult for me to respond as I, myself, didn’t have much to say. I was helpless too. We were all worried but were pretending to be strong. My mind was not at peace. It bothered me that the media was not able to report anything from Kashmir. All I could do was wait...

Back to Unknown Territory

My parents were with me for a few days, but they decided to pack their bags and head back home. It’s been four days since they’ve left and I haven’t been able to speak to them again.

Even though the landlines have been restored, whenever I try to call them all I get is an automated response that the number is out of service. I used to speak to my mother twice a day and now I haven't spoken to her since she left. I managed to speak to Rahat once. But my heart can never be at peace until normalcy returns in the valley.

I would like to conclude with these few lines I wrote on 7 August at 4 AM:

Sleepless nights and nightmares!
We all bonded by common fears.
Missing our loved ones and their voices dear,

Sleepless nights and nightmares!
Not expecting everyone to understand me,
and my worries about my loved ones who will never flee.
Can't really express what's inside me,
Sleepless nights and nightmares!
Sleepless nights and nightmares!

Also Read : From the Spirited to a Heart-Broken Kashmir, How I Endured it All

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