Updated: Aug 12, 2020
By Ashish Singhal
The author pens down his special Chai Story for us. Capturing how love and friendship sees no boundary, his extraordinary amity with Nazim that flowered amidst ordinary days leaves us wondering in maze of life and priorities. The author draws on his observance of human life to create the magic.
Sometimes the most ordinary people have the most extraordinary story. All one needs is time, patience, the ability to connect and establish a rapport and you can be part of it. While on duty I often would be near Nazim Bhai’s General Store. It was an innocuous shop but catered to the needs and requirements of the villagers as also the Army personnel located in the vicinity.
One day I was on duty at a post, in close proximity to a Tea shop, 'Nazim Ki Dukaan'. The authentic Kashmiri architecture of the Tea Shop captured my intention. While I was still staring, Nazim Bhai came out. As we made eye contact, he walked towards me "Janab, Adrak waali Chai piyenge?"(Sir, Would you like to have Ginger Tea?). His bright sparkling pupils reflected the pristine hills of Kashmir, his aura exhibited such magnetic energy. I smiled "Thoda Chinni Kam Ho toh Badiya hoga" (I will prefer less sugar, please). That aromatic ginger tea and his enthusiastic persona; no wonder this was the beginning of a great friendship. As I got to know him better, Nazim dwelt upon his life, his family, the village, Kashmir, Militancy and the aspiration of the ‘Awam’ of Kashmir.
He would narrate how people lived in fear, not knowing whom to believe, the security forces or the propaganda that the terrorist were spreading. He enumerated how young boys were forced to join terror outfits and if they didn’t or they ran away, their families were targeted and led to pay the price. He spoke of how the terrorists looted villages, committed heinous crimes on women and girls, killed people who did not support their ideology or whom they suspected of being informants and didn’t even spare the elders. Their aim was to strike terror in the hearts and minds of all and they were ruthless.
He described how the last two decades have changed every aspect of the way people lead their lives. Despite the injustice meted out to them, Nazim has a ray of hope and blames the Pakistani Army; politicians for the mess in Kashmir. He is internet savvy and reads about how the people in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are treated. They are worse than second grade citizens and repent that they did not cross over the border to the Indian side.
Nazim has relatives across the border and speaks of how they are ill treated, exploited and used by the Pakistani establishment. There are no schools and colleges, the health care system is in shambles. There are no jobs or development activities as Pakistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in. He says that the very basic amenities of water, electricity and rations are difficult to come by. The situation across is only getting worse if anything.
Nazim thanks his stars that he and his family are here. He compares the governments of the two nations and the economic developments taking place. He told me that people are aware of the situation on both sides and are fed up with the false propaganda that Pakistan is spreading. The performance of Pakistan on key human development index has been below par. He is hopeful that the future is promising and that he and his family are moving towards better times. Promise, Nazim i shall do everything to manifest your dream into reality" I said to myself.
Did I tell you ?! We are working on an idea.... few years from now ,while strolling at an international airport if you are drawn to an aromatic tea shop, just check its name again "Nazim Bhai Ki Dukaan".