A mother of four sons, Sayeeda Begum yearns for a support. Sayeeda, who has lost all her sons, lives alone in her ‘house’ at DareshKadal, Maidanpora. The ‘house’ resembles more like a narrow lane in the old city than a room suitable for living.
The room has hardly enough space for two people to sit across; standing upright in the room too is difficult. By the side of the room is raised a wooden staircase that connects the room with a similar one, above.
Living in abject poverty, Sayeeda ekes out her living by spinning wheel, day and night. In her early fifties, Sayeeda bravely puts up fight for her sustenance.
“My neighbours will come to know about my death days after I would have passed away as I live all alone. There will be none to offer me a drop of water,” she lamented.
Taking sometime off, while she was working on the wheel, Sayeeda remembers the tragedy that has befallen her.
She lost her husband, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, 10-20 years back. A petty trader by profession, he met with an accident and was bed ridden for years together. “After he was bed ridden, he passed away; years after meeting with an accident,” mentioned Sayeeda.
Sayeeda’s husband left for heavenly abode when her children (four boys and three girls) were too young. “When my husband died my eldest daughter was in sixth standard and my eldest son in third standard,” she added. The family plunged into poverty and difficulties after Dar’s death.
Sayeeda’s eldest son, Nazir Ahmad Dar (25) a vendor by profession, lost his life in a bomb blast. He was selling goods on hand cart and was killed while working, on October 10, 1990. “I still remember it was Thursday and the time was 7:30 PM when Nazir breathed his last,” said the mother sorrowfully.
After a couple of years, Sayeeda’s another son Tariq Ahmad Dar met almost the same fate. He died in cross firing in Safakadal. “Firing occurred, people ran hither and thither and so ran Tariq. In the process, he fell in the river Jehlum, got drowned and died,” narrated Sayeeda.
Tariq was a carpet weaver by profession. His mother while remembering his hair, recalls that he had soft, silky hair with shiny texture. “He often used to take Rs. 10 to mend his hair,” she said.
Few years after Tariq’s death, Mushtaq Ahmad Dar (22), Sayeeda’s youngest son too died in cross firing. A driver by profession, Mushtaq met death the same way his brothers did. “It was the local police that informed us about his death,” she said.
Remembering Mushtaq, Sayeeda said that basically he was named Ishtiyaq Ahmad but he liked the name ‘Mushtaq’ and called himself so. Later he became popular by the same name.
“I remember it was 12 P M when he was brought home, dead. Before that we had even went to mortuary to locate him, but had failed,” stated Sayeeda.
Nissar Ahmad, her fourth son and a tailor by profession disappeared three to four years back. Witnessing all this, Nissar got mentally disturbed and disappeared one fine morning. Sometimes, he worked as labourer but usually he worked as tailor, his mother said.
Sayeeda said that she went to various places to trace her missing son and tried to locate him at his relatives place as well, but of no use. “The machine, he worked on still lies at home and a glance over it sends shivers down my spine,” she said.
“Everything happened after 1990 when my first son died,” she commented. All her daughters are married and she said that they seldom visit her.
Somehow, Sayeeda Begum finds some sort of relief at Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Foundation that hopes to sustain her life to a certain extent.