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What If There Were No Boundaries ( A Short Story !!)
The train had started moving, there were deafening sounds of scream and chaos on the entire platform. In between these sounds of wailing people, a shrill voice of intense pain emerged which was audible to almost everyone on that station.
‘Bhai Jaan, Mohammad Bhai Jaan, Where are you?’ He tried to jump from the moving train but was held back by his maternal uncle.
‘No, Javed, No. Let him be in Gods hand now, I can’t let you go!’
With his running nose and wet eyes he kept screaming his brother’s name constantly just to get a glimpse of his big brother whom he loved more than anyone in his life as the train finally left Amritsar. He sat there on the doorstep of the train bogie for hours before his tired eyes finally gave up.
Eight hours later as soon as his nap broke, he woke up in shock and screamed, ‘Bhai Jaan, Mohammad Bhai Jaan, Don’t leave your loyal Javed behind.’ His mother ‘Rashida’, held him tightly in her arms and tried consoling him. ‘Don’t worry brave Javed, Allah will make sure that you see your brother again.’
This was the night 3 days after ‘Hindustan’ was partitioned into two countries namely ‘India ‘and ‘Pakistan’, Thousands had decided to migrate from one region to another in the hope of a true sense of freedom and unbiased justice. But in doing so thousands had been separated from their families including small kids and there was no one who could control this situation.
‘Who are you my son?’, Karamveer Singh, a sikh by religion and a retired Indian Army officer asked the 8 year old boy while applying ointment to the boys brutally bruised body. ‘I am Mohammad Abdul Siddiqui, Janab’, the boy replied in tremendous pain and shivering voice. ‘Please take me to the railway station. My ammi, uncle and brother must be waiting for me. We have a train to catch. We are leaving for Pakistan tonight. ’ The boy tried to get up but couldn’t, he started crying in pain and anger. ‘Don’t worry my son, God is with you, he will take care of your family. But, you are in no condition to move for at least a couple of months. Your body is broken and you have many critical wounds. Regarding your train, it’s been 3 days since you were unconscious. I found you near the sewage in very critical health. Its Gods grace that you are awake today, else we had given up all the hopes. You truly seem to be the blessed son of his almighty. ’ told Karamveer trying to pacify the kid. ‘But, how shall I find them now? I don’t know where we were supposed to go in Pakistan’, the boy cried his heart out. Tears rolled out from the eyes of Karamveer Singh who was feeling helpless as there was hardly anything he could do to make the wailing child see his family.
Years passed by and times had changed for good but one thing that had remained constant was the boundary between these two newly formed countries. The two nations were so close yet so far. People had gradually buried their memories of the partition days and started moving ahead. Though there were always some political tensions and disputes between these two neighbours but at the same time both the nations had become independent and were striving hard towards prosperity.
It was the day of 23rd March 1964, when Javed came running towards is mother. ‘Ammi Jaan- Ammi Jaan, this is the happiest day of my life’, he sang with joy. ‘What is it my brave son, Why are you waking up all the neighbours at 5:30 in the morning?’, Rashida enquired with curious eyes.
‘Ammi, your sahabzaade is one of those lucky Jawans who has got a chance to show his patriotism for the Mulk (Country) on his first army posting ’, Javed told while still trying to catch his breath. ‘What do you mean? Tell me clearly’, Rashida asked with her heart pounding with a feeling of insecurity.
‘Ammi I have been posted on Sarhade Pakistan facing the Indian Border. I would now be able to defend my Mulk against those impure…..’. ‘Shut up Javed, How dare you say such a thing about Hindustan?’ Rashida interrupted Javed in the middle of his speech. ‘Hindustan is a place where you were born, where your Abbu’s soul rests. You have no right to insult Hindustan or its people. Hindustan should be as dear to you as Pakistan, and above all you should never forget that your own brother, your beloved Mohammad might still be there, Allah please take care of him. These boundaries were created by selfish people for their own selfish motives. I never believed in this theory of partition, my heart still prays for salamati of the people on both sides of the border’. ‘But Ammi’, uttered Javed hesitantly. ‘I don’t want to hear anything Javed’, an angry Rashida shouted to stop his son from reasoning further.
Javed headed straight back to the fields in anger. ‘Whatever you say, I am heading for my new posting on the day after tomorrow. I am a sipahi and my nation is calling me.’, Javed exclaimed while making his way through the young and green paddy fields.
‘Subedar Sahab is here’, a soldier whispered to alert his fellow soldiers. ‘Sipahi Bhariav Singh Parihar, reporting sir’. ‘Vishram’, ordered Subedar Mohammad Abdul Siddiqui with a tough and matured voice. ‘Janab, everything is under control today, we have been patrolling every hour and things are stable. There is no movement observed from the Pakistani chowki(post). This is a good sign and things look peaceful’ said the sipahi summarizing his weekly status. ‘This can also be a silence before the storm. Sipahi Bhairav Singh, we should never commit the mistake of judging the enemy by their actions. An enemy should never be forgiven. If someone tries to attack my mother, I would rip his body apart and feed his bones to my dog. This country is my Mother , sipahi Bhairav Singh. This country is our mother’, Subedar Mohammad Abdul Siddiqui announced on the top of his voice.
It was the morning of 15th August 1964, the independence day of India. Flag hoisting was followed by a little meet and greet from the counterpart army officers on these special occassions. After the flag hoisting ceremony, Subedar Mohammad Abdul Siddiqui along with one havaldar walked towards the no mans land where two Pakistani army men (one Battalion Quarter Master Havaldar and one Sipahi) had been waiting for them.
Unlike all other days which had only formal handshakes exchanged between the soldiers, this day had a little words exchanged between these two sides. ‘Azaadi ki Salgirah ki Mubarakbaad, Janab’, the Battalion Quarter Master Havaldar ‘Ashraf Khan’ greeted the Subedar while doing the handshake. ‘Janab , Azaadi ki boht boht mubaarak baad’, the new Sipahi wished Subedar Mohammad Abdul Siddiqui. ‘I haven’t seen you before are you new here?’, enquired Mohammad.
Yes Janab, My Name is, ‘Sipahi Javed Abdul Siddiqui’ son of late ‘Mohazzib Abdul Siddiqui’.
Hearing these words, Mohammad was taken aback. He quickly enquired, ‘Where was your Abbu from?’. ‘We used to live in Amarpur basti, gali no.2, in Bhatinda district. My mother’s name is ‘Begum Rashida Siddiqui’. My Abbu died in a truck accident when I was two and since then my Ammi was both my father and mother. Do you by any chance know my family? ’, enquired the young Javed with curious eyes.
Mohammad was sweating heavily and his hands were trembling, he wasn’t in a state to react. It felt as if God had given him so much in just one moment of life. He wanted to cry, he wanted to shout in joy, he wanted to dance and most of all he wanted to hug his young brother Javed. He wanted to kiss his brother repeatedly and lift him in his arms like he used to do in childhood days, but he couldn’t do anything. He stood there in complete silence like a lifeless statue.
‘With your permission Janab , the soldier is asking you a question’, the havaldar brought him back to regain conscious. ‘No, I don’t happen to know your family Javed. But it would have been a pleasure in knowing them’ replied Mohammad while still trying to recover from a sudden happy shock. ‘We should head back to our respective camps’, said the Subedar as he bid good bye to his counterparts. ‘My Bhai Jaan’s name was also ‘Mohammad Abdul’, a soft voice came from behind as the Subedar started walking towards his camp. ‘We lost him in the partition, I am not aware if he is still there or not’, continued Sipahi Javed Abdul Siddiqui lowering his head in despair.
‘His Almighty would have definitely taken care of your bhaijaanJaved, I am sure he is alive and he will surely meet you and your Ammi someday’, replied Subedar Mohammad with a reassuring voice while turning his head towards Javed and yet walking towards Indian Army post. ‘Inshahallah’, said an amazed Javed who had never thought that he could get such warmth from an enemy soldier.
‘If given a choice between mother and country, whom would you choose Daar Ji ? ’ enquired the still awake Mohammad to ‘Karamveer Singh’, whom he considered as his God Sent Abbu. ‘Puttar (Son), I would choose my motherland first on any given day ’, replied Karamveer Singh with a gentle smile on his face. ‘But why are you asking this, is everything all right my Son ?’. ‘Yes Daar ji everything is fine, it’s just that I was thinking about the old days’, replied Mohammad. ‘Puttar Ji, don’t bother about the past, you should be proud that you are an active part of a Young and independent India. I am proud to have a son like you’, said Karamveer Singh. That night Mohammad could sleep in peace as he was sure that Javed, his brother and Ammi were hale and hearty in Pakistan.
After that day ,‘Subedar Mohammad Abdul Siddiqui ’ was often found accompanying the Jawans for the flag hoisting and flag lowering ceremonies on the post. In doing so, he made it a point to see the face of his beloved brother every now and then. Whenever they used to see each other , Subedar Mohammad would ask with a smile on his face , ‘Sab Khairiyat , Javed Miyan?’, to which Javed used to reply , ‘Ji Janab , by Gods grace everything is fine’. ‘And hows is your Ammi doing ?’ , Mohammad usually continued to ask for a self-assurance. ‘Inshahallah, she is well too’ was the usual answer from Javed.
Javed also felt happy whenever he got to catch a glimpse of Mohammad but he could never really find the reason for this strange affection towards an enemy soldier. He also often used to share these incidences with his mother.
It was the night of 3rd August 1965 when Javed received an instruction from the army base which stated that he was required to report at an army base near Pakistan occupied Kashmir(now) within 24 hrs after receiving this message. At that point he never knew that something so huge was going to happen between these two neighbouring countries.
It was later announced officially in mid-August that India and Pakistan were at war. The situation on the border posts were no longer the same. Subedar Mohammad Siddiqui was in charge of one of the many small army units which were taking orders to attack near the Sialkot area of Pakistan as Indian army had started moving inside Pakistan in early September.
With every bullet fired from Indian force, Mohammad used to pray for the salamati of his brother. But like a true soldier that he was, he performed his duty with full responsibility. He led his troops with utmost sincerity and kept fighting even after a bullet had bruised his left shoulder.
The war had finally ended and Mohammad resumed his services to the Indian army on 2nd December 1965 after being treated in the army hospital for two months. He had been recommended by the ‘Lt. Colonel’ of his battalion for the position of Lieutenant for showing his bravery and patriotism in the War. He was to be awarded with ‘Yudh Seva Medal’ on the coming 26th January celebrations of republic day of India for his contributions in the War. ‘Karamveer Singh’ was often heard telling tales of his son’s bravery to the people of his neighbourhood.
Mohammad had request to be assigned to the same army post after the war. He was eager to see his brother after almost 5 months.
‘Where is Sipahi Javed Abdul Siddiqui’, enquired a stiff voiced Mohammad from the Sipahi who was lowering the Pakistani flag in the evening ceremony. The Sipahi replied with proud eyes and loud words which ripped apart the heart of Mohammad, the words were, ‘Sipahi Javed Abdul Siddiqui is here in the soil of Pakistan, where he came from, he is a Shaheed and he will always be here in the soul of my Country , my Pakistan ’.
Tears couldn’t stop this time as they rolled out in abundance from Mohammad’s eyes. He turned around and walked rapidly towards his jeep as he didn’t want to make an eye contact with anyone. He couldn’t help it and finally cried his heart out after driving at a distance where no one would notice him. His thoughts surrounded around his mother. ‘Who will take care of Ammi now? Allah, please answer me who will take care of her?’ he moaned continuously with wet eyes and an ever drowning voice staring blank towards the sky.
Regaining back his senses hours later, he headed towards the river flowing nearby. He washed his face and feet with the water gently flowing across borders without any hesitation. He took out his skull cap from his pocket and got ready for namaz (prayer). That day while praying he had asked God only one question, ‘What if there were no boundaries, Allah? Can you show me the world without boundaries?’ That very moment he saw himself and his brother Javed playing in the paddy fields, feeling happy and tired while his mother called them for lunch at a distance. He completed his prayer, started the jeep and headed towards his army station. In the Mountains these words echoed forever :
“What if there were no boundaries? Show me the world without boundaries!!”
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Author: Kushagra Tiwari| firstname.lastname@example.org | Proof reading and editing :Rishabh Trivedi| email@example.com
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