A year after my Rebel Brother-II

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Syed Tajamul Imran

Islamabad and other parts of north and central kashmir. After Burhan Wani’s killing, I remember, army forced lot of local boys, especially from south Kashmir, to come and play in their organisedtournaments. Ruban was one among them. He was taken by same Ahgam army camp and asked to play with other team members. He was warned, if he will not come ‘anything’ can happen. Finally he went along with other boys to Ahagam Goodwill School to participate in the tournament, without any real interest. However, to everyone’s surprise Ruban’s team won the trophy. Later Ruban told me that while receiving the winner’s trophy, the army captain asked Ruban to return the same, as they have to organize another tournament. They told Ruban that they don’t have funds to get a new trophy. That evening, we all laughed at the army and their behaviour. Ruban too left Just like others, who couldn’t bear unending scrutiny by J&K police & Indian Army, Ruban too had enough and decided to take the extreme step and join militancy. On July 18, 2018, after offering evening prayers, Ruban came home, took a bath and once again left for Isha (night) prayers. This was his routine. So nobody suspected anything unusual. Since he was first harassed, he used to stay at friends houses for night-stayed quite often. So when that evening, Ruban didn’t come home, we thought he might have stayed at some friends home for the night. But that was not the case. But my mother, who saw Ruban sensed something suspicious in his behaviour as he wore a new pair of shoes for prayers. The next day when he didn’t come and his phone was switched off, we thought he might have been arrested again. As the news of Ruban’s disappearance spread in the area, people started pouring in at our house.
Two days later, I came across Ruban’s picture on facebook where he was holding a gun in his hand. The writing attached suggested that he had joined a little known rebellion outfit called Al Badr. I was instantly shattered. I now knew for sure that we have lost Ruban forever. And then we lost Ruban.
= As tragedy had since long time now got address of my Nation with Young Buds joining rebel ranks and being martyred, with my younger brother Syed Ruban joining the rebel ranks tragedy became more personified. RUBAN used to say, ‘Some wounds don’t heal’ to which I always would oftenreply: ‘Time heals every wound’ but the wound which he gave me, Time proved him right. Monday – 21st January 2018. An encounter was going on between Pro-independence Armed rebels and Indian army in HapatnarCharar-e-SharifBudgamDistt of Indian Administrated Kashmir.
The day had started as normal working day for me but some unease vibes were clearly there in my heart. From morning I have faced sea of emotions and mountains of pain. During that day many News portals, publications had reported on the same encounter with some deaths but by afternoon denied any confirmed deaths, but by evening it was reported three Rebels were Gunned down in that encounter. The events began to take dramatic turn for me on the late evening of day when I was accompanying my friend to Noora Hospital, by pass Srinagar and Suddenly at 7: 50 pm a friend of Ruban called that he could be one among them. The call took my breathes away. After an hour an army officer had called my father that Ruban is among the fighters and the encounter is going on. With this news family had gone helter skelter to look for dead body in Pulwama, Shopian police stations as asked an Indian army cop.
Meanwhile as I got more sure about dreadful news of Ruban I began to get calls subsequently from army, CID and police officials that it is not Ruban but I began to judge with surety that something is surely wrong with my heart Ruban. The night proved a million night affair for me and a call at 2:00AM from CID official made me sure we have lost Ruban.
In a night without food, water and senses at 2 ,I along with a friend started journey to Chadoora police station and at 2:30 Am when we reached there we were told that there was no dead body of any killed Rebel there, and same tone was repeated at 3:00 Am at Budgam police station. The time in between was filled for me with tears and frenziness, Next day at 6:45 Am when I reached the police control room, the building which has symbolized horror for families for collecting dead bodies, but here too more tyranny and misfortune were waiting for me. At 8 the police at the gates of PCR – Police control room, told that you cannot go inside as officials have yet come, finally after my pleas when at 9 I was allowed I had first glare at Ruban shoes which we had bought for him few weeks back during his home visit. That Day I remember, From 7 to 4 in order to get my beloved to home the two officials I remained in constant touch to get body of my brother back were The then JKP’s IG; SP. Pani and SSP Srinagar Imitiyaz Ismail parray both were cooperative and especially IG Pani called me every time back I called. They had always told me you will get dead body back in five to ten minutes but those five minutes turned nine hours. Meanwhile, Some SP south probably by name Chidambaram (Non local police officer) was very rude in approach towards me at Police control Room, they had also taken the Killed Rebels watch’s, clothes and I was asking them to give the same to me, so that I can take my brother with his belongings. Finally with the intervention of SSP Srinagar I got the things as well but ensured that things of other two fighters are given to me as well, which I later gave to their relatives. These things are treasures for us as they will give us fragrance of our Hero’s. I could also see visibly enough that by rope the bodies of all three rebels including my brothers were dragged as I can see clear painful marks of same, and my brother Ruban had six bullets pierced, few in heart, few in chest all giving me death feeling of hopelessness.
On my facebook posts since morning in killing of my brother and not giving body back immediately friends from media, lawyers, students remained with me throughout the horror day which had come in life after horror night.

At about 4:30 pm when we took the body of Ruban back one police vehicle escorted us, which then returned back once jurisdiction of South Kashmir started. Finally at 7:30 PM when we reached home, relatives, neighbours all joined us in mourning and wailing. As we reached late in the evening, I talked with my parents and It was decided that funeral would be held tomorrow morning on Wednesday, 23 January 2018. We took Ruban last time to house. My sisters, father, mother, Aunties and Uncles spend night together with speechless Ruban in our arms. My mother during night took Ruban one last time in his loving lap and cuddled him all night . As Dawn break my heart broke into billion pieces along with other family members it was time for departure of Ruban from house towards funeral and the process started at 8:30 AM with about ten funerals offered till 1:15 PM in day before we rested him finally. A year after
= In November this year, it had been some ten months since I answered the phone call that night only to find out that my little brother had passed away. I sat down to watch the fifth season of ‘Prison Break’. Since the end of fourth season a lot has happen Rubanleft into the woods, picked up a gun and came home dead. In my story, Rubaan is my hero.

I still recall at the end of fourth season of ‘Prison Break’ when the younger brother ‘Michael Schoffield’dies, Ruban told methat he will resurrect in the following season. He was sure no story can go on without its hero. But I didn’t believe him then. It was May 2018. The months that followed saw Rubaan get pushed into a world from where he had little chance of return. In July that year, Rubaan finally took the decision and joined rebels to fight India. He was just 21. Being elder brother I did my best to get him back. But, after many efforts, I realized that Rubaan has chosen his path, and coming back for him was not an option anymore. I kept trying anyways. Like the elder brother “LinkenBorros’ in that television series, I too couldn’t give up on my little brother. Every night I went to bed with fear and hope. Fear, that he might not come back, and hope that he will one day. But I knew very well, in the end my fear will overcome my hope. We were more than just siblings. Or that is what every sibling thinks, I guess. We grew up together in Nazneenpora, a small village surrounded by apple orchards and Indian army garrisons. I used to ask my Grandparents and Parents why our village is called so. They would tell me that Nazneen meant beloved and pora is for area in local parlance. In early 1990s, Dozens of young boys from Nazneenpora and neighboring villages crossed over to Pakistan for arms training to fight India. They came back with a new beloved: AK-47 assault rifles.

As a child I remember hearing stories from my father and uncles about young boys parading narrow village alleys with AK 47 rifles on their shoulder. I sometimes recall description of their dreamy eyes that got shut before they could see the dawn of Aazadi. Their eyes were no different from that of Rubaan’s, I believe.  To me Rubaan was everything. We were more like best friends who cannot manage without each other. When I was away in Chandigarh, it was Rubaan who took care of family chores and kept everyone in good humour. When he was around, my absence was not felt much in family matters, as he was mature enough to take care of everything. Before he became a Rebel to fight India, he was often pained by the ordeal of subjugated and needy. It was perhaps in his nature to feel the pain of others.

I recall how he struggled for days to collect money for a young girl suffering from Lungs Diseases. It pained him a lot to see her in such a miserable state. The girl was a local rebel’s daughter. But I am sure he would have done the same for any ordinary girl too. But I am sure he didn’t choose the path of gun for with all the clarity that it needs. In fact, Rubaan had no time to think as Indian Army persons were always on his tail. They didn’t let him live him in peace even when he was nobody. I had never seen Rubaan so angry and helpless in his entire life, as he was when Indian soldiers beat me that night on 17thjuly 2018. He couldn’t bear that sight. Long after my scars were gone, he carried them in his heart.

When he left, a part of me also left with him.

= I recall once when we fought and my dad, as punishment, ordered us to stay away from each other. It was painful despite knowing that Rubaan slept in next room, sound and healthy. After a few days, Rubaan quietly crept into my room and slipped next to me. It was really hard to part us, but not for the cruel hands of destiny. = Almost a year after Rubaan got killed in a gunfight with Indian Army, I sat down to watch fifth season of the Prison Break. It was my first time to watch this series without Rubaan. In the very first three episodes of Fifth season, the main hero gets resurrected. His elder brother opens the grave only to find it empty. This particular scene where the elder brother opens the grave touched me. I began thinking for days that what if Rubaan is not in his grave. What if he too is somewhere safe like ‘Michael Schoffield’- the protagonist of that American TV series? What if he has managed to fool us all and get out safely?

There were many what ifs in my mind now. This thought got magnified as Rubaan’s memories began pinching.

In Mid-November, Rubaan started to came in my father’s dream. He told him that, ‘I am not feeling well in my grave. There is something which disturbs me in the grave.’

My father did not react instantly. However, a few days later my mother narrated a similar dream. And then one of my aunt too. Then I too saw my brother in my dream and he told me to get him new clothes. He also told me that his right arm is wet in his grave and he is not feeling comfortable.

It had been raining for a few days and Rubaan said the water is getting in his grave.
After such dreams became regular we approached few religious scholar who told to wait rather than rush to open the grave.

On Nov. 30. I was supposed to visit my home in Nazneenpora but due to month ending (closing) got busy with my job in Srinagar. That day I reached my rented apartment late at night. As I was tied, I tried to get some sleep. But I couldn’t, as I was feeling restless. To overcome it, I offered prayers. Finally I went to sleep. Once again Rubaan came in my dreams. This time he was angry. He said, “How many times I told you get me new clothes. But you don’t. Now I will tell my father again.”

Next morning without breakfast, I started travelling back to home. I visited home in Nazneenpora and straightaway went to Rubaan’s grave. I felt that the grave is not in its position, or the way it should have been. I quickly rushed to our orchard where my father was working. I told him about my dream. After consulting religious scholars we decided to open the grave. I quickly called Rubaan’s friends one-by-one, as I wanted them to be present. But they were not available on such a short notice. The only one present was the one who had missed Rubaan’s funeral in January. Whenever he visited our house, he would regret not joining his funeral. He carried this regret since then in his heart. When I called him that day, he quickly rushed to my home. This was a rare chance for him to see his friend one last time.

Surrounded by friends and relatives, we finally opened Rubaan’s grave. To everyone’s surprise Rubaan’s body was almost in the same condition, as it was buried some eleven months back. Even I could notice that his right arm still carried blood marks where he was hit by bullets. We realized that everything he had told us in our dream was true. Rainwater was actually seeping into his grave. His body was wet from one side, as he had complained.

In presence of religious scholars, Family members, His friends and elders we put a fresh shroud over his old one. Then my father suggested that we should bury him in our ancestral graveyard, just a few meters away. But, it was Rubaan’s wish to be buried next to his childhood friend – Farooq Ahmad Hurra; a rebel who got martyred two years before Rubaan. So we dug a new grave on the right side of his friend and laid him to rest there. Earlier he was buried on his left side. At around mid-night we finally reached home. My restlessness was gone to an extent. But the pain of losing Rubaan is still there. It will never go away. Since Rubaan is gone, my mother keeps an extra plate during each meal for him. It has become a routine. The plate reminds us of his absence. But it also helps us connect with him.

Really some wounds don’t heal.His cricket kit, books on computer world, love for fashionable shoes will always haunt me whenever I dare to open his room. I am in billion tears pray for my solace, Nothing more to write nothing more to say I along with family stand shattered.

I know there is no way to bring my brother back as he lies peacefully in his grave. But those who are alive have to carry the burden of life till we meet again.

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