Her name was Yasmeen which in Persian is the name of a famous flower known for its beauty and fragrance. She indeed was beautiful or maybe still is; her long dark hair as smooth as a heavenly fabric, her eyes beautifully dark and her face as fair as Jasmine which her name alluded to. And she was just a twenty one years old girl. In the small township of DH Pora where she lived, besides her beauty and amiable disposition, she was also noted for her deft tila kaem(needle work or embroidery) on pherans. She would often help out her family in apple orchards and paddy fields like the young girls of peasant families do in rural Kashmir. But what stood apart in her was her fascination for tila kaem. It was more than a hobby for her; it was something in which she had immersed herself fully and dedicated her life to it. She had produced magnificent embroidery work on pherans which women would wear with so much of enthusiasm. Not only from DH Pora, women of different age groups from neighboring localities would prefer her tila kaem on their pherans. The dextrity of her delicate fingers had just become some talking point among the women of her area. She had also a younger brother named Burhan whom she loved very much. In fact, her life, one could say, alternated between her love for tila kaem and her younger brother. Burhan was some eight years younger to her.

In her own compressed world, Yasmeen had dreams, desires and aspirations like anyone else, but none knows if she still carries them in the world where she now resides. Her dream was to become the most famous embroiderer of her valley which is indeed renowned for its crafts. She wanted to go ahead in her life pursuing her dreams and translating them into the reality of tomorrow. She wanted to make her family proud. But little did she know that something else was stored for her. In her complacent but happy life, she knew little that destiny would dash her dreams with its cruel arrows.

Often she would be so innured to her work that she had hardly an idea of what was happening outside—in the turbulent politics of her state, in the streets of valley, in India or in Pakistan. She had not idea about what a freedom struggle is like. But sometimes, many things strike you for the first time and you are forced to respond so fast and abrupt even to your own surprise. Something terrible had happened on the evening of the 8th July, 2017 in valley and a state of commotion had been unleashed. She left her usual work and began curiously enquiring about what had transpired. And once she came to know through her friends and neighbours, she was enraged, shocked and scared like them. Because things were really getting bad; the news of more dead boys started coming.

Till that fateful day, she had absolutely no idea about one certain Burhan Wani. For the first time in her life, she began to have fears. Yasmeen couldn’t believe that all this was happening so fast, but as was the case, it was indeed happening so fast in the real time. She had never heard of Burhan Wani before. She had never watched his videos on Facebook. But now when she had heard about him, she was moved by his story in how he had been forced to become what he was.
But soon her thoughts and feelings diverted to her sudden new found fears. Something very terrible lurked in her heart and mind as the tragic news started coming one after one of dead and blinded youth. Like everyone else in her family, her Mohalla, her town and her valley, that night she could not sleep. Suddenly, she began to fear about her compressed world. In the dreadful gust that had suddenly overtaken valley, she feared for herself, her dreams, her embroidery, her brother, her family and everyone else she could think of.

When that long and dreary night passed, she had hoped for the dawn to bring with it some peace, some relief and some end to the bloodshed which had blotted the previous moonlit midsummer evening and night. She prayed early to her Lord for peace and well being of all:

“O God, O our Master!
You Have eternal life and Everlasting peace by your essence and attributes.
The everlasting peace is from you And it returns to you, O our Sustainer!
Grant us the life of True peace and usher us into The abode of peace.
O Glorious and Bounteous One!
You are blessed and sublime!!”

She hoped and prayed for peace, but deep down inside her heart, she couldn’t do away with a certain uneasiness which had troubled her throughout the night. She simply couldn’t unburden it. She closed her eyes and hoped for the best.

Some couple of hours later, she heard intense sloganeering on the street which was some fifty metres away from her house. But in the midst of the echoes of loud slogans, she also heard of something very dreadful–which she had hoped and prayed should never happen–intense tear gas shelling followed by non-stop firing of live bullets.

She heard cries and slogans getting shriller and shriller with each bullets as the terrible sounds of live bullet firing subdued every other sound around. Suddenly, she found her brother Burhan was not around. She feared if he was among the slogan shouting crowd. Amidst the ongoing firing on the street, she went out of her house running and screaming loudly, “Burhan, where are you? Come back, mother is waiting for you, she is worried!! ” She found no response from any of the corners in the alley outside her house. She shouted, shouted and shouted, but again there was no response. She started beating her chest and again ran towards the street screaming, “Burhan, lagya balai maiyne baya, cze kati chukh (Love you my brother, where are you??), Burhan, come back, we are waiting for you?? ” She kept screaming until she reached on the edge of the street where she saw few young boys lying in a pool of blood, breathing their last and perhaps, crying for a few drops of water!! Seeing all this and thinking of her brother, like a lunatic, she screamed and screamed with a high pitch until one loud scream and bang brought her down into the drain just next to the street where she was standing and shouting for her brother. She had just been hit by a volley of bullets and her head had been smashed to smithereens along with her dreams, hopes, prayers and her deft tila kaem. That afternoon the brother did come back only to find her sister in a white shroud with her broken skull but still with the Jasmine like beauty and fragrance reflecting from her face. The brother was left to scream, ” Thrath ha peyi ho(Horror has struck us)… Yasmeen, my beloved sister, where did you go? Please, come back, mother is waiting for you!!
Thrath ha peyi ho(Horror has struck us!!) ”

And horror it was indeed!! And horror it is indeed!!
Basharat Shameem, Youth activist, writer, Kulgam, J & K


  1. ANITHA SANTHI says:

    With tears in my eyes and a sob in my heart I read young Basharat Shameem who writes this narrative about Yasmeen….this is a true portrayal of a political situation that needs to make leaders and decision makers including those at the helm of religiion and power sit up and act…we cannot lose young, precious and creative lives for the morbid, decadent and regressive and old beliefs and methods…holding the memory of Yasmeen close to my heart because of you, Basharat… and your tender depiction of her
    Otherwise I would have never ever known the details

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    The situation in Kashmir poignantly brought out …