MY STORY: I Strive To Survive. By Brijkaul

Early December day, 4TH December 1961 to be specified, was dull and dusky one.. The clouds were hovering over the Sky in abundance and threatening a bountiful of rains to be followed  by a possible snowfall anytime. It was a cold day. The cold piercing into one’s bones suggesting to have warm cups of tea to ward off the biting cold of severe winter.

The S.P.COLLEGE Srinagar was a sprawling one with beautiful college buildings built on English architecture.

Long well ventilated corridors ,having rows of  huge class rooms on  either side with seat arrangement on ascending order,  thus presenting  a beautiful look thereby , as a matter of fact.

The college lawns were thronged with boys dressed in warm winter blazers, tweeds, and colourful high neck sweaters , darting in and out of the classrooms, corridors and thus presenting a lively spectacle.

 I was soon joined by my friends , Roshan , surinder and Ali Mohammad.

we sat at our specified place in the corner of small adjacent lawn having small green hedges all along the corners.

“ Hey  Brij  looking pale.” Roshan said.

“ yes  you do not look in your upbeat mood” Surinder said briefly.

 “Today weather is dull ,he will be ok”  Ali Mohammad joined the chorus .

“I am not feeling well”  I replied . “ we need to have warm cups of tea” I snapped.

Ali Mohammad looked at his wrist watch and  said “ we can go for tea as there is  time for physics class to commence”.

We all started in the direction of Tuckshop.

Surinder was humming a song from Bollywood movie unaware of anything around him.

suddenly he declared “let us go out to a Restaurant for a small breakfast. I have not had anything in morning”

“we can make it . Still enough of time, nearly half an hour to go for class” he pleaded.

All agreed.

The restaurant was just at a stone’s throw from the side gate  and we had a nice table on the window side.

It was cold in the restaurant and we ordered for some sandwiches bread and butter ones.

we asked for warming up the oven in the fireplace and the  restaurateur asked the boy to start the fire immediately .The boy was quick to put fire in the iron oven and we felt  a little comfortable.

The restaurant boy spoke only Kashmiri  “ kya se pharav thoda wishnare “ — meaning  did you feel some warmth. he said triumphantly.

We all nodded in assent ,smiling .

 We had a hurried breakfast and quickly walked up to the classroom to attend Prof. Mamm’s physics lecture.

Prof, Mam’s class was always full to the capacity and there used to be such a silence even a pin drop could be heard.

 In the midst of lecture  I felt severe pain in my stomach ,tried to live up with this   but  could not do so. 

I stood up and said  in a feeble but quite audible voice.

“ Excuse me sir  I am ill , feeling intense pain “   

Prof  looked up from his  note book  “yes you can go , do you want me to give some one to help you.” he said cooly.

Meanwhile Roshan volunteered to accompany me ,followed by both Ali Mohammad and Surinder  all startled and shocked by unforeseen turn of  the event.

I plodded on ,helped by Roshan, to the corner of the lawn on the other side of the class room.  I lay down on the grass but was restless.  Instantly spewed out undigested rice and green saliva intermixed with  some  traces of blood .  Soon after I vomited blood profusely and the situation looked more contentious than we could have anticipated.

I could guess anxiety brewing up on the faces of my friends , Roshan was upset specially ,hurried to the first aid room and came with medicine and the compounder(semidoctor) available for primary medical aids.

The compounder made me to lie down comfortably and administered some medicine possibly to stop vomiting.

I pleaded to go home  and Roshan put me on the back seat of his bike and started pedaling  off to my home in  Karananagar; a distance of at least six kms .

There were no vehicles available except tongas, but the stands were off the college beat. One had to walk down a mile or so to catch a tonga.  So bikes were easy handy ones. 

 As we were about to move I overheard  Surinder saying  with the twang of his nose “ I will  try to get a tonga close by.”

Roshan instructed Ali Mohammad to contact and inform my father in B.ED college en-route to my home  which he did.

My father was principal ,an educationist of repute.

As soon as we reached out of college main gate  Surinder  was  waiting with a tonga for us.

I was very weak after awful vomiting and could hardly sit on the back seat of the bike. So tonga was a boon .   “ Thanks” I murmured to Surinder.

“use my bike going to your home today” Roshan yelled at Surinder who in turn nodded in affirmative.

The tonga strode  in the spluttered rains on the main road with full speed towards my home. Roshan put me in a lying down position allowing me to keep my feet in his lap while seating himself in the corner with bare minimum space available.  Although the pain did not subside. but somehow I did not bleat either. 

“Surinder did right to get this tonga,otherwise we would have been wet in the rains.” Roshan said to himself .

The Tongawala finally pulled up his tonga outside my home ,18  karan nagar.

It was a big bungalow built up on half an acre land with plenty of trees  ,both cherry and poplar, standing all along the inside boundary interspersed with flowers giving enough greenery and beauty to the whole house.

Roshan  helped  me to get upstairs on first floor into the main room . My mother anxiously asked me  “ what is matter my son. Are you alright.” she sighed heavily and my dishevelled looks sent a shiver tingling down her spine. She stood motionless for sometime.

Roshan replied softly “ he got ill suddenly needs some rest and a glass of cold water”.

 “Donot be disappointed ,he will be alright . God is great.“ Roshan said philosophically to console my mother.

The door opened  ajar and my father, a tall bespectacled man,swarthy in complexion, walked in.

“I have called for the best doctor ,he is coming soon, and if necessary  we will go to the hospital” my father said anxiously, the anxiety writ large  on his face .  “Ali Mohammad told me  about your illness. Did you vomit again” he continued.

“Dr is coming soon, no worry.” He spoke nervously pacing the room several times.

Dr G.L. Hanjura, M.D from US, entered  the room suddenly and started checking me ,asking for  intermittent questions in between .

“did you go for motion, how was it , I mean colour”

  “  black “ my father answered.

   “was it in large quantity , how many times you had motions’ ” Dr asked curiously.

  “ two times , but in moderate qtys. only.”  I answered

 The Dr advised me to be hospitalized for two days for investigations, to be admitted  now without losing further time.

He wrote something on his note book ,probably prescription with clear instructions for hospitalization.

 “ I will come to hospital by evening . Meanwhile you get him admitted soon” Dr spoke to my father and left.

I could see my worried uncles Babuji and Tathaji both with disapproving sad looks asking my father to hasten up to take me to the SMH Hospital ,luckily not far from our  house.

For two days I was put on drugs and had been under thorough investigations . The head nun with her tight wimple darting in and out continuously for conducting essential tests. to locate the ulceration .

 Dr Hanjura allowed me to be taken to home for further treatment.

Dr Hanjura  explained to my father the possible mild ulceration ,a typical sore on the lining in the stomach,or oesophagus could be cause of the blood vomiting,  did not warrant lengthy stay in the hospital assuring him that he would treat me at the home itself.  

He further alerted us to be prepared for a long treatment .  My anxious uncles peeked over the opening of the door to listen to Dr’s conversation. In fact my  uncle  Babuji  enquired from the doctor about the  actual  status  of the ulceration. Dr replied cooly “ we will do our best . There is no worry.”

 Back at home I was put on rigorous bland diet for about six months . Sips of ice cold milk at regular intervals to be taken with a  biscuit or two. slowly and steadily.

 Other diets followed like boiled vegetables, and  later on mildly spiced minced roasted mutton balls were given to me in  small quantities. at regular intervals. 

Milk was the main diet for three to four months.

I was not allowed to go to college and thus lost one academic year .

I spent time to read English authors like Thomas Hardy, Oliver Gold Smith, Charles Dickens Somerset Maughm and a host of essayists R.l.Stevenson, Thomas huxley etc.

My father insisted I should write some essays.

I learnt writing by playing sedulous ape to great writers. and thus developed my own style .

I turned to reading American authors John stein Beck, Pearl S Buck, Sinclair Lewis ,Earnest Hemmingway  and host of others to get over the fatigue and also to while away the time.

I read some Indian authors as well like R.K.Narayan, Bhabani Bhattacharjee Jab Ruthwala, Anita Desai, and so on.

Some of the books — Mayor of Caster bridge, Good Earth, The old man and the Sea, Return of the Native,  The Guide enthralled me very much.

Nearly after four  months I was allowed to take small quantity of rice with boiled cooked potatoes sprinkled with salt and a bit of spices. 

 My mother in addition put a pint of turmeric powder to make it tasty.

 After undergoing  Barium meal test ,I was allowed to take near normal diet. The Red Kashmiri  chilies were  ruled out at least for time being. Interestingly enough I avoid these chilies even now.

 My large family ,especially father ,mother, aunties and uncles were worried about my health.  

They used to huddle around me in twos  and threes to bolster my mood all the time. My aunties were very fond of me .The elder one ,Bhabhi, as all children fondly called her, would relate stories from Indian epics ,Mahabharta and Ramayana every evening religiously to all of us. The other aunty Mataji was kind affectionate beautiful lady ,always helpful.

My youngest aunty Mohanji was medical doctor at Delhi , used to send detailed precautionary notes to my father through letters. ours was a well knit family devoted to one another’s well being.

I later  leant through them that my grand father  ,Shri Shiv Kaul had died of duodenal ulcer soon after his retirement ,way back in 1940/41. I thus understood the reason of their extraordinary anxiety about my health .The disease was dreaded one those days with no or little treatment.

 Dr G. L. Hanjura  cured me fully and I did not have this trouble till date any longer. I feel  he was God in disguise of a doctor.

I am pleasantly  healthy now.

It was for many years I was kept away from the niceties of Kashmiri Wazwan.

Eventually I became a voracious eater of both vegetarian  and non-vegetarian  Kashmiri dishes.

I was invited in marriage parties by my friends only when abundance of food varieties would be  available. to eat.

Now  at  seventy  I still have taste for such niceties of dishes ,both Kashmiri or otherwise.

Chula Bathura,  Dosas , Kanti kabab, Nargis koftas  are some of the rarest of rare dishes I readily pounce upon without much hesitation.

 I did not brood over but learnt to fight against all odds with courage and conviction. I combated the disease effectively with a smile and thus strove hard  to survive to this day.

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MY STORY Sweet Sour Memories

Srinagar  the city of my birth, swathed in the morning sunshine ,crimson cool and sublime.  The brilliance of  faraway mountain sunshine was  exceedingly beautiful to look at in the early hours of the day.

 The city was always  agog with gaiety and grandeur all along especially the streets thronged with  vibrant crowds on their way to daily chores.

It was  4th july 1962  I was  just 16 ,a teenager full of promise to radiate into a  handsome lad.

My  childhood bosom friend  Roshan’s  cousin sister was to be married and I had to be there for a week to assist and attend marriage. The Kashmiri marriages last longer say for a week or so. 

Roshan my friend came very early  in the morning to my house and asked my mother, whome we fondly called Kakni  , to allow me to stay for a week with him to assist  “ in my sister’s marriage”.

Roshan was very handsome boy , of medium build with bright complexion and a cheerful disposition.

Kakni replied in affirmative while hugging him and I said to Roshan “ I will come by evening.”

I was glad that all was settled and that was it.

He left thereafter without waiting for a cup of tea  as he was distributing the invitation cards on his bike. He peddled off to the road across  and was seen dashing towards the main Chowk  onto his way home , without even waving to me.

I put my small things ,a shirt, trouser,a pair of socks  and other knick knacks  in the knapsack ,keeping my small luggage ready for the city journey to my friend’s place.

I, being the youngest among my three brothers,  more conniving of them put together.  May be due to the  pampering  of my mother and father both.

My mother ,Kakni  interrupted “ you should not take too much spicy food ,marriage food is very unhealthy over fried and cooked with too much  oil and red chillies, like Dam Alo,etc.” “ did you understand what I am talking about” she continued  angrily.

“yes yes ,I will take yellow and curd dishes more .” I replied briefly.

The   4th July afternoon was  dark laden with thick dark clouds and fog. The wind was blowing strongly and  possibly  the rains  could pour down  at any time.

I slung the knapsack on my left shoulder and started for my visit to Roshan’s place.

A  flash of lightening  followed by a roaring thunder made me to cross the square and race down the streets to cross the Habbakadal  bridge as soon as possible. For a moment the  Habbakadal Chowk  plunged into darkness and hush fell all over  until the noise of the horse driven Tongas carried over in speed , breaking the deafening silence.

The rains finally came but  not in torrents as expected but steadily and slowly ,the  rain drops slithering down my fluffy cheeks softly wetting my face and hair.

I took the right sharp turn and entered the famous Barbuz lane ,a small alley with pucca  tile pavements on either side  with tarred metallic road to walk through. Due to rains the lane was slippery and I cautiously strode on and on  criss crossing the lanes, by- lanes till I finally arrived at  Roshan’s house decorated adequately for the wedding ceremony.

The large front door was bedecked with flowers of various  colours  and the guests were moving around the large lounge in purple ,blue green  typical Kashmiri dresses with hand embroidery at the corners or  in the middle .

Roshan’s father  Dwarkanathji announced my arrival in chaste kashmiri

“haiyey  Brij kaul hai Aave maun toth ” .  meaning  hey brij kaul has come  my dearest one.

I saw a number of  guests  in and around greeting  with   ‘Namaskar maharra’ — welcome welcome .

 After greeting all the guests  I asked for Roshan  and his sister Krishna ,a young petite girl,directed me  upstairs and I eventually landed into the  room where all our friends had gathered over a booze.  

Meanwhile the evening prepared to slip into the night and the ladies started gathering in large numbers in the adjacent hall for  celebrating  the  ‘Mehandi Rat’ the ladies Sangeet night ;

an expert Henna designer was  busy in anointing the hands and feet of ladies, children with Henna in different  patterns  designs .

The other ones dancing to the tune of Kashmiri songs

in full gusto.   

Our friends and  the  other gentlemen  in the  room  next  were still enjoying  themselves a bit noisily with the whisky punch and other  tandoori starters.

Down in the large hall  dinner was being served. The dinner was excellent , very traditionally Kashmiri in content and substance both.

It commenced with delicious vegetable broth containing cauliflower, tomatoes and prunes followed by  lavish other  Kashmiri dishes  both vegetarian as well as non -veg ones. Dam Alo, cottage cheese,  Sour Brinjal , Roganjosh, Yakhani, minced mutton balls cooked in red chillies. and many more ones

For dessert, there were jellies, Gulab Jamuns  and host of other fruit creams  etc.

The guests were darting in and out of the dinning hall finding the experience enjoyable.

 I quietly had my dinner in the farther corner of the verandha . It was 10 minutes past ten oclock  night already. Iwas feeling a bit sleepy after having a sumptuous dinner.

Outside there was some respite in the  rains  but the  thick clouds  continued hovering over the sky .

I  went upstairs to listen to ladies music for  while ,the woman in pink dress was swaying her hips to the tune of a popular Bollywood song and others singing and dancing with gaeity.

A hand on my shoulder woke me up from my reverie and saw an elderly woman an ,aunty of Roshan whispering  affectionately to me “ Brij ji will you  accompany her  pointing towards  a young  beautiful lady dressed in pink sari with brown shawl draped over her shoulders,  to her  home . She is alone and lives in Banamohalla, a nextdoor colony. please just do this favour to me.” she pleaded with finality.

  A repugnant  incident

It was mid night and we stepped out of Roshan’s  sprawling house  in the cold night for  journey to Banamohalla  a distance of 5 to 6 kms .

The wind ,a bit harsh whipped at the young lady’s brown shawl ,the sari was  worn tightly as we headed up the tiled alley ,lighted feebly by a  yellow lamp post. The alley was long  dingy one  and we crossed a maze of streets  paved with white brown tiles and the rain water flowed into the open gutters on the end of each street,

we did not talk  but walked briskly on and on.

“your name young boy” she asked me to break the silence.

“Brij” I replied briefly.

 “ yours” “

“Manorma”  she replied smilingly.

 She lifted her face towards the sky ,while  closing her eyes as she inhaled some fresh air.

“I like the starry sky but no stars today”.

“The clouds are thinning out and it should be a sunny morning tomorrow”  She spoke to me.

I simply nodded in assent.

we crossed the  lane and turned right into main road, the tall  huddled buildings  stood on either way and after  crossing the busy street  we reached the house of Manorma  my lady guest .

The house was  a gracious pile of  moderate size with  white sloping roof  and the gate  graced with ivy creepers all  along  two pillars with broad door.

“ Right  madam  you have reached your home  I should go now” I said politely.

“no no young man come inside for a cup of tea .” she dragged me  holding my hand firmly and went inside the gracious house.

I pleaded to go but of  no avail.

she seemed adamant and did not listen.

I got my hand free and followed her quietly. The corrider was long dimly lit with a yellow lamp dangling from the farther corner .There was one  servant sleeping  in the  far end of the corridor ,who got up saying something to the lady and slept again.

 The lady went upstairs nodding me to follow. I hesitated briefly but followed her right in to room and closed the door behind me and walked into a big sitting area.

A small  wooden lamp burning on the  small table threw shadow on to the side space possibly for changing dress etc.

she threw her shawl on to the chair ,removed her sari and put on night gown partly unbuttoned. she went to a side room  and in trice came with   two cups of tea.

“just drink that you will feel a bit comfortable” she said handing over the tea cup. I readily accepted that without discerning anything sinister . I stared at her elbows moving and revealing her part of bodice in her loose sleeves.

she nudged me a bit and sat close to me taking the cup from my hand and  held me close to her breasts.I felt awkward and tried to get up but she firmly pushed me to her bosom in a firm clasp sealing my  lips with a kiss.

 She  pushed her peachy fruits  into my mouth and held me entrapped in her hug, revealing  her radiant  enormous nudity  beyond my imagination.

 I tried  to wriggle out and run away but being more powerful she assumed woman superior position and pinned me down.

 kneeling down she lapped up my male part  adjusting it to her magical pigeon hole.

 She lusted for the thrusts  and indulged in such sinful acts with ecstasy. 

I felt the pain and agony .

 There tears welled up in my eyes, my heart  pounding in my chest fiercely . The room looked claustrophobic and Iwanted to throw her aside to seek freedom into the open world outside.

In a flash I felt power in my arms and threw her away to extricate from her clutches.

Picking up my clothes and buttoning my pants I zipped down  and ran way  from the back door of the corridor into the garden skidding over a wicker  door into the  open street. I explored the maze of strees ,narrow winding of the quaint old city  .

 I reached Roshan’s  house,  spotted  Roshan in the  Langar (cooking) area  and related the repugnant incident to him.

His initial reaction was anger “who the hell she was, who told you to accompany her” he blurted out angrily.

The  head cook  noticed something amiss and came with cups of Kashmiri Kahwa . we drank the tea and Roshan calmed down  .

“ we should not tell about this incident to anyone.” he  declared “ nobody will trust us that she was maniac and seduced you , instead  people might raise fingers at you.so keep it buried in your thoughts for ever.”He said with an air of finality.

 Roshan ,though one year older to me, but was endowed with much more wisdom and maturity of thoughts.

 Roshan, my dearest one, a thorough gentleman ,  passed away in 2005 at the young age of 59 never to return. I pray to God every moment for his peace in the heaven.

I am hopping around with some more  tales to tell in  the coming years.