It was a normal day: the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was visiting my homeland Kashmir and we were caged; unprecedented restrictions had been imposed in the region and ban of mobile internet was enforced. Nothing of this surprises us anymore. The heavy cloud cover seemed to have colored the day well as we stayed indoors fighting cold and in anxiety about what had transpired in the day.
Post afternoon, the ban on internet was lifted and I logged on to my Facebook account to check with my friends about the day. Late in the afternoon, the news about protests against Modi’s visit escalating in Zaenekout did rounds on a social networking messenger and my thoughts immediately went to my friend Gowhar Nazir Dar. It never occurred to me to call him and enquire. I was sure that he like me would have stayed indoors the whole day— probably dedicating few hours to studies and watching some television.
At the dusk, I went to offer prayers at a Mosque and after I returned, his death was announced by the media. I became numb, a part of me refused to believe even after seeing the picture of his body clicked at a hospital. The picture clicked inside an operation theater showed doctors trying to save his life and my mind suddenly shifted to an incident in our college.
Last year, as we were in college and sitting together in the grounds a noise caught our attention. We saw groups of boys and girls pacing towards a part of the college where thickets grow. We both rushed to the spot to find some boys holding sticks and trying to kill a snake— which are quite a common feature at the place where our college is located.
As students tried to kill the snake, I saw another facet of the human side of my friend Gowhar Nazir Dar. He shouted at the boys and asked them to stop and quickly took over a stick from one of them. I remember his dexterity. He slowly, but with great expertise, picked up the snake and marched towards the thickets and others followed. He then pushed the snake into the thickets and ensured that it was unharmed. That day, I experienced the human side of my friend for which he was popular in our college. The incident taught me that there was nothing more valuable than life— be it a dangerous snake.
My friend would tell me on the way back from the thickets: we have no right to take anyone’s life. Alas those who killed him mercilessly never had a friend like him to teach them this greatest lesson of life.
May he rest in heaven! Ameen.
(Peer Suhail, from Pampore, was a friend of Gowhar Nazir Dar, who was killed by the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, on Saturday in Kashmir.)