She is the Apple of My Eye
Overpowering self preservation
"Rosy, my baby girl, is beautiful. She's lovely and
charming I simply can't but gaze at her whenever free. I hold her on my chest as
often as I can. She feeds at my breasts. She sends a pleasant thrill through the
whole fabric of my body whenever she wears a gleeful smile expressive of
satisfaction and comfort on her calm face and yawn soon after," say, Taja,
her youthful mother. Rosy is her first child after her marriage.
Taja brooks a lapse in looking after her first born. She is
only too fond of carrying the baby with her, in her lap, wherever she goes. Taja
is extra-ordinarily anxious to keep near the baby and to keep her comfortable
all the time. Rosy is thus brought up like a princess. For, she is the only
child of her parents for a couple of decades or more.
And so, as Rosy grows, both mother and child become, as if
they are each other's shadows. For they often seem to sit, stand and move about
to work together even to the borders of exaggeration limits. Even as Rosy grows
to her teenage, Taja is invariably found grasping her hand while shopping or
visiting her relatives.
Once, it so happens that the whole township is agog with
whisperings, gossip and subdued emotions. A man is killed here and woman saved
there. An enemy is trolled and another gunned down. A youth is hanged and a
suspect drowned. Tension and fear grips the entire township. And yet, the
unsuspecting peaceful and peace loving dreamers still continue to be oblivious
of the gravity of the situation and remain stubborn in their fatalistic,
attitude. They continue moving about as freely as in normal times ever before.
Some of them still seem to believe in the age-old conviction of self-deceptive
safety-zone, they still stick to the old strategy of "YEATTI YOUR RAETSER"
(Everything will be normal from this movement onwards and, we are safe at least
for the time being). Trash! his false rumor. This replica of Khabri
Zena karol. It's a long, long time now since I salute my
parents tethered as I ‘am to the peg of household chores, service of my aged
in-laws, looking after our live-stock, orchards and kitchen garden, my dear
husband being away in connection with his service. So many times have my brother
and sister come and requested me to accompany them to my parental home, in down
town, to console my old parents who had been craving for my darshans for long.
Bed ridden, as they are? They are unable to move to ours. How cruel on my part
to disappoint them on one pretext or the other, "Have I, my husband and my
in-laws grown so callous towards my parents?" says she to herself.
She becomes self-remorseful, her sentiments receive a jolt
and her emotions run high.
"My heart beats violently, I become dizzy, my head
reels with pressure. What can I do? She broods over and reports her helpless
condition to her in-laws, who in turn send word to their son.
Sad and sullen, Taja sits in a lonely corner, sobbing. Her
sub-conscious agony of long separation from parents burst out in tears that roll
down her cheeks. Her daughter Rosy is askance and stunned, wetting of her eyes,
instantly become contagious. The reel of the replica of KHABRI-ZENA KADAL.
Unwinds itself like a flash in Taja's mind. The impact of
the running film is so deep and permanent that, even in her semiconscious state,
he repeats the whole episode of that mischievous replica of
KHABRI-ZENA KADAL VERBATIM THUS.
"Once a clever young man thought of playing mischief
for fun with people, of Srinager. He gathers a group of his like minded friends
and revealed his plan to them. The plan is approved and the line of action is
unanimously agreed to.
The homogenous group scattered in a crowded corner of
the city. One of the youths shouted from a distant,
hiding place, "Gayee ho ! Gayee ho ! (It's gone. It's gone). The
cries echoed from another distant corner and were followed by others running
towards the crowds and rushing onwards. The yells are reinforced by multitudes
of hoarse ones. Then rise up counter queries of, "What is gone? What's
The excitation gathered momentum and the full throated
cries. "It's gone. It's gone, "and" What is gone? Where? Where? alternate and jar the listeners.
But mob psychology and mob behavior rope them into their onward movement when
some other groups shout. "Zena Kadala! Zena Kadal ! At Zena Kadal Bridge,
at Zena Kadal Bridge)".
The excited crowds rush with the mobs and assemble at Zena
Kadal. " Gaye ho! Gayae ho ! what’s gone? what is gone? ----only to be
told that a sputum has floated under the bridge. What a cruel joke!"
"Damn this hot rumor" of tension and violence. I
am not one be cowed down by such false hoods. Taja shouts out, as she rises up
she turns defiant, and dressing herself, clinches her daughters hand and leaves
by Matador to downtown, ten miles away. All along the way she cannot. help
seeing groups of bewildered youth gossiping and the pedestrians running more
hastily than usual. But the gravity of the situation dawns upon Taja on reaching
the busiest market usually bustling with throngs of people doing brisk business.
She's awe-stricken finding shopkeepers downing the shutter’s of their shops
and feeling home-wards for life and the few anxious pedestrians double marching
onwards. Taja too follows suit till she finds refuge in her parental home.
Touched to the quick, on finding her parents gazing expectantly towards the
door, Taja enters exasperated and panting for breath. Sips of fresh cold water
revives her and her daughter a little and they are found gently embracing her
ailing parents sobbing which turns contagious, engulfing all, parents, children
and grandchildren. The high-pitched feelings and emotions soon have cathartic
effect and the babbling of toddlers breathe the balm.
Refreshments and hot tea come handy but the anxious looks
of all are centered in Taja's return home. Shaken by her travel experiences.
Taja is careful enough to leave just in time to reach home well before dusk. So,
with wet eyes and imperceptible sobbing, Taja clinches Rosy's hand, embraces her
parents and takes leave. Her brother, accompanies her and sees her off at the
bus stand. The matador speeds on through the street. But alas! Suddenly stops
halfway through across a bridge and asks the passengers to alight and fend for
themselves himself avoiding the whole danger zone.
This has further aggravating effect on Taja's terror
Unwillingly, the passengers step out and plod on in panic
along the deserted road towards the venue of the rumor around the otherwise busy
chowk where all sorts of vehicles are usually available.
Taja and Rosy move on sluggishly at first but somehow their
calf-muscles get tickled by reflex action. They consciously or sub-consciously
speed up and catch up with the advancing pedestrians.
Taja and Rosy feel being trapped there as so some other too
did! They move helter-skelter to seek shelter. Shelter where there was none.
They play hide and seek to avoid being caught in the melee.
An isolated, fast running truck strays that way all of a
sudden. A trembling, panic-stricken group of anxious people, lying in wait on
the spot including Taja, rush to and push one another into it as it stops a few
seconds and instantly speeds on.
Unfortunately Rosy misses the grip of her mother's hand.
And she is left behind alone to her own fate! Deserted in this way, Rosy weeps
and wails, cries and yells in distress, She frisks away hither and thither, like
a freshly born calf to seek shelter in the mare's protective cover.
Similarly stranded, a well meaning man touched by her loud
sobs is closely watching her panicky movements in an atmosphere of intense
tension due to desertion at the hands of her, otherwise, inseparable mother.
Imperceptibly and unknowingly after long-hours, there stops
an isolated maruti car near the well-meaning man. The driver opens the door and
shows him in hastily. The well-meaning man pulls in the panicky, girl, before
hastily boarding it.
And the car driver loses no time to speed on. Where?
May be back to her village at home, miles away on the same