It was a blissful morning. The frosty air was blowing, unleashing the magical music of rustling leaves. The sun was rising up from the mountains, painting the morning golden. Seeing the tranquil atmosphere, my soul craved to be outside. And so I stepped out for a walk.
I walked and kept walking until I reached a nearby bridge. The sound of the water flowing under me compelled me to linger a while. Looking at the water, which was shining between the gigantic Chinar trees, I was deep in thought when I heard the thundering horn of a truck, which made me pull myself together.
As I turned to proceed with my walk, I caught sight of a boy standing near me.
The young boy, who looked almost 15, was looking at the river intently. The expression on his face reflected an intense trauma. He was shivering in the cold.
His cold, red hands clutched a piece of paper.
His eyes moved between the river and the paper. I felt as though he were standing, contemplating something unknown to me. But it was clear that the paper in his hand had something to do with the agony he was in.
Abruptly, his anguish came through as tears, shining in the morning light, rolling down his sunken cheeks. My temptation to speak to him was overpowering, but I wasn’t too sure if I ought to interrupt him as he dealt with his emotions.
Wiping his tears, it looked as though he was trying his best to be courageous and overcome the agony inside. But the courage was momentary, and he started crying again. It looked as though all hope had left him, blurred from his sight by the tears. He looked beyond helpless.
It was a tragic moment.
Finally, after a tussle with myself, I ended my silence: “Hey, little friend, what is the problem?”
The boy stayed mum, held captive by his thoughts. I asked, “Why are you weeping?” and patted his shoulder. His body jerked to consciousness.
But he was silent. His throat was without words or any reply. He raised his hand and handed me the bit of paper: a crumbled newspaper cutting.
I saw the photo of a body, and the headline read: ‘Another civilian killed by security forces’.
“Who is he?” I asked.
“My father,” he answered.
Atta Ul Munim Zahid is a student of journalism at Boys Degree College, Anantnag.
Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty