This house like many has a tale to tell

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Mareaya Fayaz

I live in Sopore. It is sometimes referred to as Chhota London or Apple Town. I assume it’s called Chhota London because of its countryside look. It sounds so fancy when you say it like that. But the reality of it is very different when you go to the depths of it. My birth took place at the peak of militancy. That’s what my parents tell me. They often remind me that how lucky it is for us to be still alive. Of course I don’t remember much of it as I was a just a little girl. The memories of that time have faded, though I am reminded of some episodes.

I remember when I was about five years old, my parents used to take me to Srinagar every Sunday because I had tonsillitis. While coming back home I used to salute every flag that I saw, since that is what we were taught in school. Well there is one more memory that is embedded in my mind. The memory is of a house that is located near downtown. An empty, deserted house. I used to ask my parents about that house a lot. They would tell me the owners of that house left. Just that. No details, because I was a little girl. They thought that I would not understand the complexity of it at that time. They were right. For a long period of time the Army occupied the house. Then they also vacated it.

The house had always been on my mind. Even now when I look at it, I feel some strange attraction to it. This house, like many other old houses in the valley, belonged to a Kashmiri Pandit family. They left Kashmir during the 1990s to save their lives.

I don’t know who they were or what they did. But I am sure that to leave a house like that, you must have been really terrified. I have always seen the house from the outside. I never dared to go inside. It has typical Kashmiri architecture with its verandas and beautifully crafted light windows. We call them roshandans in Kashmiri language. I have always wanted to go inside that house. But I want to do in with someone who actually lived in that house. Someone who would tell me every detail about that house like “Yes, this was the kitchen. This was where we would sleep”. All the details about what and how they did when they used to live there.

I feel drawn to that house every time I see it. The feeling is unexplained. The house is a time machine. It draws attention to how it’s been standing there but also to how it’s still there waiting. It is waiting for people to whom it belonged. I think the house is waiting for them to come back to it restore it fix it and make it a home like it once was. The house has got good bones – that I can tell you. It has weathered tough times, and is just waiting to see good times like before. We all long for good times. We all want our lives to be less complicated. We all crave for peace. The same is true for people who live here. After having seen bloodshed and fighting for nearly 30 years, we all deserve a peaceful life. We are worthy of living lives to our fullest. No gunfight, no deaths, no deserted homes. Homes should remain homes. They should never become just structures of bricks and wood. 

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