Sunday, January 19, 2020

  I saw God in his eyes

Veenapandita koul
 
It was in 1987 that we shifted to live in a rented accommodation at Karan Nagar, Srinagar. Mornings would fill me with joy and energy. The breeze, the chirping sounds of birds, the fresh fragrance of flowers would freshen and elate me.
I was in love with myself and hence would enjoy every routine work that would come my way for the rest of the day. And the routine would start by the knock of the milkman at the door of the compound wall which would make me rush with a pot in my hand to fetch milk.One day while I rushed to fetch the milk, I happened to see a person who had a strange freshness in his demeanour. He was white-bearded wearing white kurta-pajama and a karakuli cap and had a cool and composed look.
Next day I happened to see him the same time again with a visible serenity in his personality- a saintly look in his eyes. Later, I realized that it might have been the time for his return from a morning walk or maybe morning prayers; and that he lived in the immediate neighbourhood. Thereafter whenever I would see him, I would bow my head with respect and he would smile to bless.
I hardly remember having conversed with him. His unspoken blessings would freshen me sort of the way one is blessed in a temple. It continued for about two years. By this time militancy in Kashmir reached its peak.
Hindus fell prey to the exodus, feeling concerned about their safety. On the other hand, Muslims, in general, felt equally concerned and would often come with a question as to why the Hindus should flee. Kashmiri Muslims took it as a struggle for liberation and Pandits took it as an anti-national movement. In short, all confusion and chaos.
One unfortunate day one of our close relatives, living in the neighbourhood fell prey to militancy and got killed in his office. It shocked us beyond repairs. We decided to leave Srinagar temporarily which would help us to recover from the shock. The day we had to leave, my brother left to fetch a taxi early in the morning.
I was supposed to wait for him outside at the gate of the house in the street. It was almost the time for the milk-man to come and the man to pass. With a suitcase in my hand, while I was waiting for the taxi, I saw two young men approaching me. Their body language was what some would describe those of militants.
They started questioning me and directed me to follow them. I was shocked and terrified. I felt numb as I could feel death approaching me. Suddenly, I saw the man crossing from the other side of the road. Understanding the situation, he stood between the two and me, almost covering me with his Pharan that he was wearing.
He had a verbal encounter with them and I heard him saying, “I swear by Kuran Sharieff, I will not allow any untoward happening here or you will have to kill me first.” He had absolute command in his voice. He held me by the arm and helped me to walk away from them. After a few minutes, my brother approached a taxi.
The man opened the door of the taxi and guided me inside. I was shivering with a mixed feeling of love and anger. He blessed me with his hand on my head and his words still resound in my ears, “Allah bless you, my child. He not only saves innocents but also regards innocence”.
Later, it might have taken me days and months to recover from the shock, but I know I came out with the strength of believing in humanity. From then onwards very often I close my eyes, I see his white-bearded smiling face and light-radiating kind eyes, with a Karakuli cap on his head, in short, He in the form of a human-being- Him in his eyes.
Militancy and terrorism, no doubt, is a matter of grave concern, particularly in the event of it becoming a global phenomenon. But I am of the firm belief that terrorists and militants have no religion because no religion is devoid of human-values and teaches killings. It is only a handful of people who for their own petty gains indulge in anti-human activities. I am sure the world survives because the common man believes in peace and harmony, values innocence protects innocents and regards human-values.
Veena Pandita Koul is Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education and can be reached at veenapkoul@gmail.com

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