Have Wings, Will Fly
Kuch Log Tumhain Samjayain Gay
Woh Tum Ko Khoof Dilayain Gay
Jo Hai Woh Bi Kho Sakta Hai
Ise Raah Mai Rahzan Hai Itnay
Kuch Aur Yahan Ho Sakta Hai
Kuch Aur Tu Aksar Hota Hai
Par Tum Jis Lamhai Zinda Ho
Yeh Lamha Tum Sai Zinda Hai
Yeh Waqt Nhn Phir Aayega
Jo Hoga Dekha Jayega
Just daring to dip my finger in the ink of blood to pen down memories. Whenever they strike my mind, they make it numb and cease the thought process. The hands tremble. I am reminded of old impressions, of voices in my ears. “You are a girl…how dare you…!”
But the inner voice forces the trembling hands not to stop. The inner voice tells me – Go ahead, open your mind and heart…!!
The Grand-Daughter of Ghulam Rasool War Is Born
It was a rainy weekend of the first week of March. Everyone was eagerly waiting for spring to bloom, which in turn was a reminder to seek joy and embrace love. It was also the period of historical political developments in Kashmir. It was the time for collaboration of the most acceptable organization of the time, Muslim Conference (National Conference) Accord with Indian National Congress (INC).
I was born as the second child of my parents. My cry soothed the eager ears of all those around me. I really don’t know the facial impressions and feelings of people around when they came to know that a girl was born. Hopefully, there had been a smile over the face of my beloved Baba (grandpapa), a nominated freedom fighter of the country.
Just after birth, there started the feel that I am being wrapped in unconditional love, and obviously I think of my mother. Surprisingly, I got to know that I had been placed in the lap of Prana Behan jee (a Pandit school teacher and a friend of my mother) who lived near our house. She had been very dear to our family. It was Sunday, March 3, 1979.
With the passage of infancy and childhood, it was time for my admission in school. I was admitted in a Government Primary School, and my brother in a private school which was a reputed school of the area.
How I Fought Gender Biases
This was the first gender bias that I experienced. The bias haunted me till my college years. Obviously my brother was enrolled in Baramulla Degree College for graduation. I decided to opt for B.Sc Fisheries and comfortably passed the entrance exam, accepting the first challenge to graduate from Baramulla Degree College.
Then I qualified the entrance exam for Kashmir University in Chemistry, making my parents feel proud of me. After doing Masters in Chemistry, I did B.Ed. Just after I completed it, I got recruited as a teacher.
This job didn’t quench my thirst, aim and ambition to work for social causes. I resigned as a teacher and moved to work outside the state in order to explore our country. I got a job in Glenmark Pharma and continued with it for almost one and a half years, stationed at Mumbai.
The sudden message of the ailing health of my beloved Baba didn’t let me stay any more at Mumbai. I returned to Kashmir to attend to Baba, who lived not only as a mainstream politician but a strong and committed pro-nationalist all his life.
Born in 1937, Baba got the first hand experience of Kabaili attack on Kashmir in 1947 by Pashtoon tribesmen and irregular Pakistani forces that had moved in to take capital city Srinagar. Baba always told us about the evil designs of Pakistan. He had stayed there for almost five years after Partition with his cousin. He well knew the greed and vices that prevailed there.
My Baba Found POK A Cunning And Mean Place
Baba always narrated to us the story of POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). He said he had found the people there to be the most cunning and mean, who cared only for themselves. It was in the company of Baba that I learnt about the deviousness of Pakistan. This made my bond with my own country even more loving and strong.
In 1964, at the age of just 27, Baba became the part of the government of Mr Mohmmad Sadiq. He contributed to the amendment in the state constitution by changing Sadre-Riyasat to Governor and then Chief Minister that brought J&K at par with other states of the country.
My Baba, a young dynamic Kashmiri who had lived in Pakistan for five years, was proud to take part in elections in his country. He became the Sarpanch of 11 villages in Handwara of Kupwara district. My Baba served at many levels from block level to district level in Indian National Congress.
Baba devoted his youth to strengthen the democratic process at grass root levels by taking part in Panchayat elections in the era when Kashmir was under the strong influence of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. For being part of INC, Baba faced the social boycott of his community. It was even publically announced that since Baba (Gh Rasool War) had joined INC, he was no more a Muslim.
This pain and torture reached heights when his own blood – his father and mother kept separate serving utensils for him for food. All this did not let his morale down. He continued his struggle for strengthening democracy.
Kashmir’s Horror Era Began From 1989
Then the horror era beginning from 1989-1990 erupted. Ugly cries rent the air of Kashmir. “Aae Zalimo Aye Jabroo, Kashmir Hamara Chod Doe”.
The heaven on earth watched flames full of smoke of hate. Pro-nationalists were put under house arrest and what not. I rember how Baba was kidnapped a number of times by the so-called Mujahids (Miltants). Our industrial unit was put to flames in broad day light. Our Ambassador car was taken and set afire…and what not…..!!!
The real face of the so-called jihadis who ruined us and so many, many families are still before my eyes. How can one forget the days when inhaling air was not allowed without their permission. The days haunt us still, when permission for water connection, construction, timber etc was given by those jihadis and their loyalists.
The loyalists of the jihadis were the Qazies of the family disputes. Their orders for settlements prevailed. On gun point, the so-called jihadis ordered the employment of their loyalists in government departments.
Going through all this, my loyalty to my nation grew more and more. This was all because of the inspiration of my Baba, who would always advise us to be aware of the many truths around us.
How much ugliness we Kashmiris had to live through when the rule of the jihadis prevailed. In our own village, girls were abducted. They were forced to marry militants or Over Ground Workers (OGWs), otherwise their family members would be sprayed with bullets.
So-Called Activists Romanticize Trauma In Kashmir
Now I read write-ups by so-called scholars or activists in the West, who take an absurd view of the extremist behaviour of the jihadis. These so-called activists romanticize jihad in Kashmir. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It is easy for them to romanticize jihad sitting in peaceful and prosperous regions. For them words like Kashmir and azadi are fancy words to play with.
I want these so-called scholars to wake up to the trauma faced by us when Kashmir was seeking azadi, where the daughters were not safe. Militants could take them or exploit them as they pleased.
The Pain And Trauma That Never Ended
The pain that we have seen and grown up with does not end. Let me tell you of another woman of our area from whose eyes the tears never stopped. Her unending wait never ended. I don’t want to reveal her real name, so I will call her Atiqa.
Who can imagine the most painful misfortunes that have been suffered by the sons and daughters of Kashmir because of the fire called azadi lighted by Pakistan in our land. We Kashmiris became a game in the hands of Pakistan.
Strangely, Atiqa became a double widow or half widow of two real brothers who left her to cry all her life, when her beautiful hands were still decorated with hinna.
At the age of 21, Atiqa got engaged to her cousin Suhail (name changed). Shortly before the date fixed for marriage, Suhail crossed over to Pakistan without informing anyone. He was shot dead somewhere on the border. No one knows where he was buried. Atiqa was married off to Suhail’s brother Fayaz (name changed). Two beautiful children were born to them. When the children were not yet old enough to know the love of a father, Fayaz went missing. The unfortunate father of Suhail and Fayaz had thought that his two sons would shoulder his coffin. Alas! Atiqa single-handedly raised her son and daughter amidst tears, never having experienced the joy of a stable life.
Can anyone answer our questions? We are the victims of militancy who lost everything as that era of madness that swept over our land. My grandfather was wise. He took up the mission of holistic development of society starting from the grassroots. I am his proud grand-daughter, and I carry forward his good work.
To remain devoted to my task, I decided that I would not get married. I am in the field of social work for 14 years now.
The voice of a militant still echoes in my ears. I was a little girl and I was playing cricket with other children. He saw us and shouted at me, “Drop this bat! You are a girl. This is not your domain.”
We Work For Women Empowerment
More such infantilization followed. I am a woman, so some people around think that dictating me stuff should be acceptable and normal. It was the same with car driving. Baba told his cousin, who was SP Handwara then, to get two driving licenses issued. One for my grandson, the other for my grand-daughter, he told the SP. Here was the response of the Superintendent of Police of Handwara. “Don’t allow Abida to drive. She is a girl. It shall be of no use…” Such episodes are imprinted over my mind and heart till date.
The world will restrict your world to the lowest common denominator. It is you who must raise yourself high – and raise the bar again and again. I started my journey going through the books of Shiv Khera. Books like Living With Honour, Freedom Is Not Free. More books like Shabnum Qyoom’s Kashmir ka Siyasi Inqilab, Yeh Kis ka Lahoo Yeh Kaun Mara, etc. I understood the deceit that Kashmiris were suffering, and that the need of the hour is to help them integrate them with the nation.
Choosing the Department of Social Welfare, and particularly Women and Child Development allowed me to deal with women and children, and undertake deep introspection of our society.
Yes – I am the one who has been celebrating Women’s Day actively and with great enthusiasm. I am the one who organizes Gandhi Mandela Tournament Cup among children in orphanages. I am the one who organizes awareness campaigns on the day of Gandhi Jayanti. I am the one who propagates Gandhian peace ideology.
I have been the volunteer with International NGO Mother Help-age, JKSWM (NGO), Patron JKWET (TRUST, Student for SEWA (SFS). I have worked as Chairperson JKSEWWA (Solace Employees Working Women Association), JK UT President JKICDSSU, JKUT President JKECC…
Above all, I am proud to be a daughter of the soil who is able to inculcate the spirit of self confidence among the girls of the valley, involve them in all-round developmental programs so that they may shed the inferiority that is induced into them so much that it has been normalized.
The most important events that I conduct are on national integrity and harmony. These are events such as Har Ghar Tiranga on January 26 and Tiranga Rally on August 15. For the 75th year of Independence, we covered 75 villages for our celebrations.
* Yes we are struggling for freedom from the oppression of wrong social norms towards girls and women
* Freedom from the self-constructed bars for girls
* Freedom to rebuild the wings which are broken
* Freedom to inculcate the lost mother in those mothers who let their generations lose the zest and joy for life by being trapped in false sentiments
Women are the most valuable and important part of society because we nurture generations in a holistic manner. Only women can be called the mother even if she does not give birth to a child – because her existence is based on love and satisfaction of soul.
Let us feed our children by reciting
Sare Jahan Sai Acha Hindustan Hamara
Hum Bulbulain Hai Ise Ki Yeh Gulistan Hamara…
Abida Huseen War
* Chairperson JKSEWWA
* Vice President JKECC
* President JKICDSSU (JKUT)
* Patron JKWET (JKUT)
* Volunteer – JKSWM & Mother Helpage (NGOs)
* President, Gandhi Global Family Kupwara chapter, north Kashmir
* Cordinator Kashmir Chapter, NSF (North South Foundation) USA
* Organiser of some national interest campaigns like Ek Gawon Ek Tiranga, Tiranga Rally etc..