Candy Dadi

Her land has not been retrieved and the expansion of encroachers has continued.

Nayeema Mahjoor
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 14 2017 11:35PM | Updated Date: Nov 14 2017 11:35PM
Candy DadiFile Photo

It might be the same story I have related to you many times since I was born. Yes, the story of the same woman who was once a beautiful lady and has now become Dadi of the whole town. The children living around her have prefixed Candy with her name as she entices them with the sweets.

Yes, she lives in the same brick house which had a huge Chinar tree in the middle, clothesline in the backyard and cow dung piled up at the right corner of the fence to feed the potato saplings. The cow, as usual, is nowhere visible. 

She wears the same aura and is physically unchallenged except for the knee replacement, despite the pain inflicted by her husband when he disappeared thirty years before and her twin boys as young as fifteen years took up the gun to fight against injustice. I don't know what the injustice is but I know her plight since the day she made me aware of her subjugation. The boy's fight had begun the same day Kabul was celebrating the defeat of a superpower, Central Asian Muslims were basking under the sun of independence, Arabs were being showered with precision missiles and the valley had stepped into the worst phase of political turmoil. Candy Dadi re-jogs her memory every time somebody barges into her home. And, she can show you the bruises of partition when she was abandoned in the crowd of mayhem.

Her chubby face had a few wrinkles, adding not only grace to her but strengthening her resolve to fight to reclaim her land from usurpers. Her neighbours never stopped ridiculing her. They would often tease, "Dadi, your other foot is already in a grave, why do you fight for a land that has no relevance for you?" She would not react to them.  Just rub her eyes.....

In fact, her issue has no relevance for anybody. And, this pains her since today......

A little further from her house to the main road, huge demonstrations were held against the uniformed men with shouts of demands for return of the thousands of miles of land usurped under one pretext or other since decades. She would ignore shouting or slogans and couldn't be bothered to ask anybody what was going on. She would cling to the door of her house where black crows circled above, perhaps a bad omen that something bad was going to happen. She would utter a prayer to ward off the evil spirits. 

Another lady from a nearby house would always advise her to go inside the house as "hide and seek" had taken a nasty turn. The boys as young as ten or twelve years known as "B Brigade" were chasing jawans and trying to throw them out of the building now functioning as an ammunition depot in the middle of the civil population. Jawans had never faced such fury and fierceness of local boys in the past. They were recently seen running towards the newly macadamized highway, so were boys following them in droves. The situation had become grave, roads had become scenes of chaos. The sky as usual had turned dark grey.

She started sobbing and beating her chest. Children came rushing out of their houses who had become indebted to her for gifts of candies. They surrounded her and asked her why she was sobbing. "My land has been snatched and title papers stolen but nobody is listening to me or taking me seriously", she told them. The children became sad by seeing Candy Dadi in distress. They went to their mothers. The mothers forced their children to go back inside their homes, as the whole valley had again turned into a volcano.

The children refused to go back inside their homes. They came running back towards an old lady who was crying her heart out and demanding action against those who had encroached upon her land. The children had surrounded her with sticks in hand, pledging to punish the usurper for his crime. Within a fraction of a second, hundreds of boys were running in every direction followed by hordes of jawans, somewhere it was firing, somewhere killing and  somewhere much more.......This running and chasing had now continued for decades, the jawans have expanded their base not only in the mountains, forests and streams but have dwellings in the middle of the cities and towns. The land has become fortress and people are pained at the apathy of authorities................. 

Dadi's land has not been retrieved and the expansion of encroachers has continued. The fourth generation of Dadi  are harbouring even more anger, disgust and hate now, and Dadi's candies are no more enticing them.

You may still consider her issue as "non- issue" but her constant coughing is tormenting the inner soul of the valley.