Mother is the universe that embraces the good, the bad, and the ugly lovingly in her arms. For her, the child is the most precious thing in the world. Her love is as soft as wool and cradles her infant, singing a lullaby in her sweet voice. When a mother's tears flow in Pride, it’s the most precious diamond in the world, but when the same drop is filled with pain, volcanoes erupt and destruction follows. I have seen tears of pride and pain in the eyes of two mothers. Whatever the reason for the droplets, it always leaves a vacuum in their lives which will never be filled. For a mother, her child is a part of one's identity. They nurture their child with a not only abundance of love but also try to instill an understanding of right and wrong in society. A gardener waters the sapling with the utmost care and imparts all the experience to keep it away from harm and pests, but still, there are some trees that grow infested with harmful pests. Who should be blamed for this infestation? The gardener never wants the plant to be destroyed but the surrounding weeds that grow near them infest a healthy plant. A shrub that may have bloomed with beautiful fragrant flowers now just has withered leaves on it, bringing tears to their gardener.
A mother is a gardener in the life of a child. She uses all her skills, watering her child with love and education to make his life beautiful with a fragrance of success and prosperity. Her eyes wait for the day when her son makes a name for himself by being self-dependent. Her eyes look forward to the day when her little child has his own family. The day he joins his fate with the fate of a beautiful human being and creates a marvel in the world. She wants to sing a lullaby to her grandchild and teach her folk songs. So many dreams are woven into those old eyes. But, Alas the sapling of her life at times mingles with the wrong weed infesting not only his future but also destroying the roots of his family.
We stay in a small village near Shopian which is famous for a lot of reasons. I have seen two stories unfold in front of my eyes here in this village. Two mothers have wept for their sons. The only difference is that one mother had the shine of Pride in her teardrops and the other Mouj had pain and helplessness in her. The vacuum, the emptiness had created a deep hole in their life for no fault of theirs. One mother had sacrificed her son for the protection of the countrymen and the other mother had lost her son in the false name of Jihad and Azadi. The cause of one’s tears was as pure as Zamzam, which was for the benefit of mankind. The other mother's tears were the flow of her pain, her loss, and her inability to stop the destruction. We have seen the janaza of both boys. Seeing one's own flesh and blood dead body can break even the hardest of the soul and a mother is the purest and most innocent soul on this earth. She is an angel who keeps her loved ones protected from all evils. The wail that comes from her heart looking at the lifeless body of her child ignites even the most dormant volcano, throwing the boiling lava into her surroundings, destroying everything that made her erupt.
The first instance was when we had huge juloose accumulated in our village where we had people who had even come from across the border. A boy from one of the houses in the village died in the struggle named Azadi. I remember the boy who was hardly 18-20 years old, a shy person with brown hair and light green eyes. We used to see him playing with other guys from the village. He was the younger son of a family comprising of his parents and elder sister. In the initial years, we used to see him regularly playing in the Apple orchards or going to Madarsaa Time went by and he started becoming a shadow. There were days in a row when we could not catch a glimpse of him. We thought maybe he must have gone to his relatives. One day, we started hearing gossip that the boy had crossed over for arms training, much to the dismay and displeasure of his mother. It seems he was influenced by the talks which were given in Madarsaa to brainwash them. Such was the influence of brainwashing that he started spending more time in Madarsaa among the preachers than at his home. Slowly, slowly, he started staying for days in the masjid just sending a message to his family about his whereabouts. His father tried to speak to him about his sudden decision to be away from them but his pleas fell on deaf ears. The helpless cry and cajoling of his mother didn't have any effect on him. It was as if she was invisible to him. He had turned into a hardened stone. Nothing affected him. All the efforts by the family to bring him back were in Vain. One day, news of his crossover reached their ears. The day his mother heard about him becoming a Jihadi, she started counting her days before the final verdict. From her experience, her old eyes knew that her son was used for the benefit of some people who didn't care about the results of their decision. They corrupt these young minds by preaching sermons on duty towards their religion and their debt to Allah that they need to repay.
The children are brainwashed to such an extent that no reasoning or logic can bring them back into the safe arms of their families. They are those innocent rabbits who are clutched tightly in the hands of their captivators. Hearing of attacks on security forces or IED blasts was common for us, but the day we heard that one from our own village was the mastermind of taking lives, we knew the end was near. The innocent boy with light green eyes, Mustafa, was the leader of the group who targeted a convoy, injuring soldiers. This was the first instance we heard about his involvement, but not the last. Days and weeks passed, and we used to hear his name in one incident or the other. His family tried to send a message to him through some known people to surrender but that fell on deaf ears. There was no looking back for him, just Jannat to be achieved. The day arrived when we got the news of his death. Finally, he got his False Jannat. While attacking a patrol party, he fired on them. He was given the option to surrender, but he thought about himself as a hero. He refused and started firing. In a retailing fire, he scrummed to the bullet. Less than 15 months from the day he became a Jihadi, he met his end. After formalities, his body was given to his old feeble father and helpless mother. At his death, too, the Predators wanted to gain profit and recruit others like him. They made a big circus of Shahadat about his death, giving speeches about how they would avenge his death. How the security forces will be targeted and punished. From the window of my house, I was seeing this procession and the false win. The wail of the mother who lost her son sent shivers down my spine. Apart from the lifeless body of her son, there was no existence of any form for her, be it a human being, tree, or animal. She had lost the most important part of her. Her tears were flowing uncontrolled, destroying everything that came in between.
The second incident was when I again saw a body in my village, but there was a difference this time. The pain of a mother surrounded the atmosphere with her cries. One could see her softly moving her hand on her son's forehead. There were tears but at the same time, there was an emotion of pride in her eyes. The tears were flowing because of the loss of her beloved, but at the same time, it was a source of inspiration for other mothers. Her son was a newly joined Lieutenant in the Armed forces. He was a very good sportsman, an excellent boxer who represented his state and was aiming for National and International events. In his younger days, he also used to frequent others in the Madarsaa to learn good things in life, but instead of getting carried away with their propaganda, he ignored them. For him, the preachers were no less than criminals whose only purpose was to destroy the lives of youngsters like him. Instead of listening to their false speeches, he turned his energy to studying and excelling at sports. The fruits of his hard work and support from the family paid off. He stood 1st in the whole district in his 10th exams. The push he got from this success made him more focused on his goal to make a career and name for himself. He started studying day and night to pass his entrance exam to join the Army. The day his parents attended his POP was the best day for him. From Abeer, he became Lieutenant Abeer.
Like every young Lt, he was full of Josh and wanted to be a sutradhar to create peace in the Valley. He got his first posting in the Valley on the Line of Control. His dreams of protecting his motherland were becoming fulfilled. He used to look at every new day as an opportunity to bridge the gap between his people and the administration. He wanted more and more people to join the forces and make a life for themselves rather than throwing stones and destroying their lives. Whenever he usually came home on leave, he used to motivate boys to choose the right path for the good of themselves and their families. The news of his martyrdom reached his family one chilly morning in Chillia Kalan. Some intruders tried to enter through the Rajawar forest and were spotted by Abeer and his team on night patrol. A fierce gunfight started between them. Due to the intense darkness and dense jungles, the operations to flush out terrorists were put on hold till sunlight. At the first light of dawn, the operation resumed. At times, Abeer and his team had the upper hand, and sometimes the holed terrorist. After 18 hours of operation, the buzz of bullets fell short. 4 terrorists were gunned down and a mammoth catchment of Arms and ammunition were recovered. The operation was a success for the team, but came with sadness too, as they lost 2 of their own men.
Lt Abeer and one JCO were injured while trying to neutralize the terrorist. While a terrorist was targeting the other group, Lt Abeer got hold of him before he could throw a grenade at his men. In the act of Valor, in order to keep his men safe, Lt Abeer was seriously injured along with JCO who encountered a bullet from the other terrorist. Both Valiant soldiers were rushed to the base hospital but lost their lives due to their injuries. In order to keep their men and friends safe and not let the terrorists escape, they gave up their lives. The body was brought with full military honors to the village draped in the tricolor. I heard the salute of guns this time too, but this was to pay respect for saving lives. The gun fired during the procession of Mustafa was false self-praise fired by the terrorists to show them as a messiah of the people. But the gun salute given to Lt. Abeer had the sound of sacrifice and valor, not of cowardice and deception. Today I also saw tears flow from a mother's eye, but the tears had a story of determination. Determination of her son to bring peace to the Valley. The tear had her son's oath of the strength of courage and promise of duty.
I ponder on these two deaths in the tears of these mothers. One flows with the guilt of not keeping her son safe and one flows with the pride of knowing that her son's sacrifice had kept the country safe. We must decide what we choose to follow.