Jiya - A story
|I was about to enter the premises of the government quarter of my cousin in the Institutional area of Hauz Khas, New Delhi, when I saw a frail, apparently middle aged figure. He seemed a known person but I could not recollect. The person was constantly staring at me. I could realise, the shine on his face on seeing me. He was Jiya. On seeing Jiya a stream of thoughts starting flashing before my eyes. Jiya was a domestic help in my Massi’s house in Jawahar Nagar? He belonged to a very well to do family. His brothers had good education and were holding eminent administrative positions in government. Jiya was the youngest of them all, but because he was not mentally very sound, he couldn’t get any education. Jiya with his illiterate background was a constant source of embarrassment for his brothers and their families. They used to ill treat him. He was kept in solitary confinement at his house, tied with chains. He fled his house a number of times, to avoid the tyranny of his brothers. My Massi was like a mother figure to him. She knew the plight of Jiya and so would give him shelter, feed him and protect him. Jiya developed affinity with the family. He started doing small jobs there. Sensing this, Jiya’s brothers decided to forgo him and not call him back to his house or keep any contact.
I remember Jiya used to come on foot from Jawahar Nagar to Fateh Kadal bringing naveed etc for our family. He had a very peculiar personality. Although he was a help in my Massi’s house, he used to act like a guardian to all of us, me, my brothers and my cousins. He used to advise us against the bad effects of alcohol and cigarettes in his typical, semi-audible voice. He used to ask for one or two rupees as bus fare from my mother. But we never saw him ever boarding a bus. Instead he used to buy a few cigarettes with the money.
Jiya was short, had a small moustache and a thin beard. When I saw him in the compound of my cousin’s quarter, I couldn’t recognize him simply because he had turned very frail and had taken off his moustache and beard. He looked younger than his age. He did not talk to me but I could realize with the shine on his face that he was very pleased to see me, a known person in a new, alien world to him. I knew he wanted to smoke but had no money to buy a cigarette. He didn’t tell me anything but only through indication, he conveyed his desire to smoke. I took out two rupees and gave him these. He took the money and went to buy a cigarette.
I went into thoughts once again. Jiya after he was forsaken by his brothers, stayed with my Massi’s family for nearly twenty years. The forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir changed everything for Jiya. It was January, 1990. My Massi and her whole family, during the dead of night, sneaked out of their house to leave Srinagar, without Jiya. It was a big but unfortunate decision of the family to leave everything behind including Jiya, to find safer haven in the plains of India.
Massi and her family left Srinagar, carrying with them one suitcase containing essentials of immediate need. Massi was accompanied by her husband and the family of her elder son. Massi’s younger son, Vimarsh was already settled in New Delhi with his family. On reaching Delhi, they went to Vimarsh’s government residence. The quarter was very small to accommodate all of them. The family therefore had to break into three different units. Vimarsh stayed put in his government quarter. The elder son, got a small rented accommodation in Mayur Vihar for himself and his family. Massi and his husband also hired a small accommodation near their elder son’s rented house. For one month everything went on smoothly, when they started feeling pinch of penury. They had to buy everything from the market, which otherwise they could have arranged within their household. Massi decided to return Srinagar and carry back some of her household articles.
Massi reached her Jawahar Nagar residence with a truck. She along with some attendants started packing the truck with her household articles. While the truck was getting loaded she started enquiring about Jiya. Her next door neighbor informed her that Jiya had taken refuge in the shop of a Kashmiri Pandit bakery.
While Massi was preparing to leave, to her amazement she saw Jiya from a distance, crying and running after the truck and pleading with her. Massi couldn’t control her emotions and asked the driver to stop. Jiya was taken on board the truck. Once Massi along with Jiya reached Delhi, the big question in her mind was where Jiya would stay. Since all of them were on hired accommodation, she requested Vimarsh to accommodate Jiya. Vimarsh reluctantly agreed. Jiya had developed complications in his urinary track and used to smell bad. Jiya was therefore asked to stay in the premises of the quarter during the day time and sleep in the common veranda, outside the quarter during the night. It was only occasionally, that he was allowed to enter the quarter. Jiya also could not meet his meagre expenses. Vimarsh had grown intolerant with Jiya. He used to scold him every now and then. So much so that one day Vimarsh decided to leave Jiya in some old home. He started to make enquiries about old homes and was successful in finding one in Ashram, on the ring road.
One day in the evening Vimarsh asked Jiya to accompany him in his car. Jiya was happy that he was being asked to accompany him and it was after a pretty long time that Vimarsh had talked to him with a smile. The car drove straight into the old home. Jiya could guess that this was not the place, he wanted to go. He resisted entering the home. Jiya was dragged inside by Vimarsh and some attendants of the old home. Vimarsh after completing all formalities of Jiya’s admission, started to leave. Jiya kept looking at him till he got out of his sight. Vimarsh reached his home and got sweets for his kids. He was very happy. He got into bed early that night but instead of getting sleep, he kept thinking about Jiya. Jiya had brought him up and had stayed with the family in its good and bad times. At this stage of his life Jiya needed emotional support. But what he got instead was the loneliness of the old home. Next morning Vimarsh woke up early and told his wife that what he did was not correct and that he was going to the old home to get Jiya back. His wife agreed. He went to the old-age home in Ashram and enquired about Jiya. He was told that as soon as Vimarsh had left the old-age home, Jiya had taken his last breath with his eyes staying open. He had breathed only till Vimarsh had gone out of his sight.
*Rajesh Moza lived near Raghunath Mandir, Srinagar, Kashmir prior to migration. He has heard the story on Shamboo Nath in his childhood and wanted to share it with community members, As a social activist, he was General Secretary, Kashmir Sahayak Sabha, (KSS) Chandigarh till May 2007.
Currently he lives at Mohali, Chandigarh, India and works as Deputy Registrar in National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Mohali, India.
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