Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Beyond the Paint on Wood

It took me a while to realise that I had parked my car next to the shrine of Dastgeer Saheb. The old, imposing structure with its absence has left the square looking very incomplete. Empty. Sad, in the fact, that a monument erected out of love and reverence has vacated the space to chaos and, being in Kashmir, some more politics.

Nothing much is visible of the work going on inside the steel walls. I watched a workman wearing a yellow helmet working on the rubble. Tearing away what had burnt off. An old arched window which was partly burnt stood on its old frame. It still had its freshly painted white on the top of the arch. Below that everything was burnt.  I could see someone shovel at the rubble. A board creaked, cranked and fell down. With a thud. A cloud of dust rose in the sky, and was lost. Ancient dust from an ancient shrine. A piece of history, thus went into thin air.

Who shall take care of the dust? Who shall piece together what was lost in the fire?

The building in green and white topped with a green spire was a magnet of believers.In the emotion charged atmosphere, the shrine was aglow with overflowing sentiments of want and contentment, desire and fulfillment, grief and relief. On the days of the Urs of Ghaus-ul-Azam the shrine used to be jam packed.

On one such evening, I was exiting the main hall of the aasthaan, when a woman in an abaya tugged at me.  As on every Urs, the hall was packed with the devotees. The women used to sit in the lower half of the hall, below the step. The menfolk near the windows. From the road, you could often see some old men sitting in the wooden window frames with prayer beads. She had been sitting in the rows, and  praying. With tears in her eyes, she pointed towards a nearby stack of booklets. I stepped aside thinking that she may like to get one herself, but she didn't move and kept pointing. So I picked one up and gave it to her. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she took my hand, kissed it and pressed it to her forehead. I kept looking on, and with a thousand prayers and blessings she took the book from my hand.

Such was the place. People came empty handed, with hearts full of hope. Broken hearts needing some faith to repair them. People came looking for that faith. Faith is a  thread that binds us to things unseen. From Dastgeer Saheb the threads ran to Prophet Muhammad (SallalhuAlaihiWaSallam). The threads are very much still there.

What the fire burnt was paint and wood.

I would have said, and so many memories with it. But memories dont burn actually. They remain etched. Much like faith.

(Appeared on Kashmir Dispatch)

1 comment:

  1. its really touching...wot a grief....wot a loss...cant be replaced....


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