Take Me Home




Youth Sections
"The Braves Arise "

*Sakshi Kaul Dhar

t has taken me a complete year to visit these two places. It feels as if I have completed the jigsaw puzzle of my life. I must have passed Barbar Shah and Jawahar Nagar a thousand times in the last one year, but I never went to see the homes. The minute I would see Wazir Bagh I would start looking for Jawahar Nagar boards. When I would see State Bank of India on the corner of Jawahar Nagar, I knew that home was somewhere near.

I guess it was destiny to wait.

So I began my adventure of locating both the homes.
First it was 361.... I asked countless shopkeepers regarding 361.
One of them asked me, "Aapka wahan kaun rehta hain? Kis se milna hain wahan apko?"

I was speechless and stunned. I had no answer. Emotionally turbulent, I changed my question. Instead, I asked: “Can you tell me where the Qadris stay?” Asking for Qadri's address did not drain me emotionally. It was easier.

After that, the car stopped just outside 361.

The house was being renovated. I had to ask for the permission of the owner to take photographs. My home is his house now.

Randomly, I try to look around, trying to see what my heart wanted to see. But I see nothing. Time has flown by.

Mera wahaan koi nahin rehta.

Barbar Shah: the irony was that I have passed this road a thousand times without any idea of Barbarshah. Standing outside Kashmir Arts Emporium opposite Dal Lake I asked an old man for "Barbarshah ka raasta."

Go straight. Turn right from the bridge.

I called up Tita mummy (Dida Pyari). Her directions confused me.
I messaged Munna Bhaiya and Bindroo Bhaiya. Munna Bhaiya gave an instant reply.

There are 3 mandirs here: Ram Chander Mandir, Raghu Nath Mandir, and Ram Mandir. For me all are Ram Mandirs.

Still, after 2 u-turns from around Kral khud I reached the correct Ram Mandir. A renovation was going on. I reread Munna Bhaiya's message for the nth time.

Cross the bridge.
But there is another one.
Which side of the bridge do I go to?

There was an old man sitting at the "DAR PROVISIONAL STORE."

I asked him, “Thass'on ka makaan?"
He said, "Aapka wahan koi rehta hain?"
This time with determination I replied, "Woh mera ghar hain."

He smiled and pointed. Go straight. Cross the bridge. The first lane on the left. He also said, "Main aapka padosi hoon. Maine Fotedar'on ke makaan khareeda hain."

I crossed the bridge.
My heart was thumping.
I entered the lane.
The deserted wooden homes and crumbling walls spoke that it must have been a Hindu colony.
All of them looked similar.
Now which one was it?

There was a sabzi wala sitting in his shop on the right of the lane.
I asked him, "Thass'on ka makaan?"
Again the same question: "Aapka wahan koi rehta hain?"
I replied, " Woh mera ghar hain."

He smiled and got up.
"Accha accha main dikhata hun."
He escorted me to the house.
Bang. The buland darwaza opened.

I stepped in.

I was scared to death thinking, "I hope I stepped into the right one."
What if some one is waiting with an AK-47 inside?

I saw the blue door—"June 1924"—staring me in my face. I knew I had reached the right place.

Blood rushed into my head. I called up my mom.
I told her, "Main barbarshah gayi thi."

She asked me, "Raasta mil gaya?"

I told her, "Haan haan logon se puchti rahi aur pahonch gayi."

She replied, "Tumhe apne ghar tak pahunchne ke liye, gairon se raasta poonchna pada."

Tears haven’t stopped since.

It is a story of loss and pain, not only for me, but for the entire generation of KP's .

There is no doubt… "We have lost our roots."
*Sakshi Kaul Dhar is a practising Chartered Accountant by profession, currently residing in New Delhi. She is an alumnus of the Shri Ram College of Commerce.

She hopes to be a radio jockey. Her hobbies include writing and traveling. She dreams of being able to return to and live in the valley someday.
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