Chilling Morning with Fog decomposed into Smog on my Veranda , I woke up to the sudden escalation of an yet another bitter morning. Having slept for few hrs and waiting for this good night ( EST ) call from my colleague in US would have sounded normal. That is the way how we handover before I sip morning Bed tea and he hits bed. I had a sullen feeling of things being not that ok today.
Just day before yesterday , we completed 20 years in exile and I was still feeling that I have been jailed in exile with this tiresome job and sarcastic metro lifestyle. By afternoon , I was all set to pack for another hectic day to office and sudden call from my good friend changed the lull into storm of nostalgia. But I controlled it for sometime.
I called up elderly neighborhood uncle Tiku Uncle while driving to office and confirmed if the news about Mr Handoo sabh was true and he confirmed about his sad departure. I asked for his details , so that as usual I can send the details in email and SMS to all around. It read Sh Hriday Nath Handoo ( Original Resident of Anantnag ) presently at 370 IP colony passed away today. My eyes got suddenly moist and it was in fact 2nd death in our locality of elderly KP person.
I felt as if the umbrella that I still carry from kashmir has started getting eaten up by moth and slowly one after the other spikes are breaking. I felt it might be raining soon and I would be wet one day.
2nd SMS from another friend read with a sarcasm .. get ready to retire by 45 and I thought what it would mean to me in next few years. Will I pass through this highway like Handoo Saabh did or will someone really have time to blog my death ?
Why Handoo Saabh was so important to me. Perhaps story goes few years back when I saw this tall smart and well suited old gentleman in a small function. He was unique in character and affirmation of grand past with legacy untouched like featherful cap of Maharajas. As usual I hunt for characters in faces and this face was no doubt a distinction in the crowd.
By that evening, I came to know that he is suffering from Alzheimer and he has been getting treatment for memory loss which he soon after migration. He was still thinking to be in kashmir and often would quote things as if he is living in present state of kashmir. One fine late evening of that cold winter , a call from neighborhood came for help. We rushed to Handoo sabhs place only to find that he is missing from afternoon.
We were surprised that from last many days he has been repeatedly nostalgic about kashmir and dreaming to go there. He was looked very well by his siblings and they were in state of shock. I got a copy of his photograph and many of my friends started hectic search for him. It came to be known that he has got Rs 75 which he has taken along with him and told gate keeper that he is going to kashmir.
We visited many police stations along with his son and many more relatives. For 3 days of hectic search and advertisements in local channels and Cable yielded no result. He must have forgot the place , his name , his identity and what not. We were all worried about his safety in that chilling winter of Delhi. Finally after 3 days he had lost even his clothes and was reportedly found with 1 onion which he thought to be apple from Kashmir.
He was bought home and every now and then we would see him occasionally. His picture was in my drawer till last week. He would forget his name, his meals , his daily routine but dreams of Kashmir and his return always would come out. In unfazzed talks he would assume himself in kashmir and in memory lane still in same grand state of kashmir. He might in his death find his lost kashmir and I pray that he rests not in heaven but in kashmir after death. We found him last time alive but alas I lost him this time in death. But may be in his death lies my resolve to find what he lost and in his photograph another character of lost motherland.
His death comes at a time when things are changing , new generation settling in new cultures ,Older kissing death in nostalgia , some lost in bloging this change and some not even finding to write obituary and yet others trying to skip my sms and save their half day leave on his death.. I am very sure even 20th year of exile will be bitter than before and with every death ,bonding with "Jan 1990" becomes further weak.
Adios @ Exile