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In Indian-Administered Kashmir...

A mother of four sons, Sayeeda Begum yearns for a support. Sayeeda,
who has lost all her sons, lives alone in her ‘house’ at DareshKadal,
Maidanpora. The ‘house’ resembles more like a narrow lane in the old
city than a room suitable for living.

The room has hardly enough space for two people to sit across;
standing upright in the room too is difficult. By the side of the room
is raised a wooden staircase that connects the room with a similar
one, above.

Living in abject poverty, Sayeeda ekes out her living by spinning
wheel, day and night. In her early fifties, Sayeeda bravely puts up
fight for her sustenance.

“My neighbours will come to know about my death days after I would
have passed away as I live all alone. There will be none to offer me a
drop of water,” she lamented.

Taking sometime off, while she was working on the wheel, Sayeeda
remembers the tragedy that has befallen her.

She lost her husband, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, 10-20 years back. A petty
trader by profession, he met with an accident and was bed ridden for
years together. “After he was bed ridden, he passed away; years after
meeting with an accident,” mentioned Sayeeda.

Sayeeda’s husband left for heavenly abode when her children (four boys
and three girls) were too young. “When my husband died my eldest
daughter was in sixth standard and my eldest son in third standard,”
she added. The family plunged into poverty and difficulties after
Dar’s death.

Sayeeda’s eldest son, Nazir Ahmad Dar (25) a vendor by profession,
lost his life in a bomb blast. He was selling goods on hand cart and
was killed while working, on October 10, 1990. “I still remember it
was Thursday and the time was 7:30 PM when Nazir breathed his last,”
said the mother sorrowfully.

After a couple of years, Sayeeda’s another son Tariq Ahmad Dar met
almost the same fate. He died in cross firing in Safakadal. “Firing
occurred, people ran hither and thither and so ran Tariq. In the
process, he fell in the river Jehlum, got drowned and died,” narrated
Sayeeda.

Tariq was a carpet weaver by profession. His mother while remembering
his hair, recalls that he had soft, silky hair with shiny texture. “He
often used to take Rs. 10 to mend his hair,” she said.

Few years after Tariq’s death, Mushtaq Ahmad Dar (22), Sayeeda’s
youngest son too died in cross firing. A driver by profession, Mushtaq
met death the same way his brothers did. “It was the local police that
informed us about his death,” she said.

Remembering Mushtaq, Sayeeda said that basically he was named Ishtiyaq
Ahmad but he liked the name ‘Mushtaq’ and called himself so. Later he
became popular by the same name.

“I remember it was 12 P M when he was brought home, dead. Before that
we had even went to mortuary to locate him, but had failed,” stated
Sayeeda.

Nissar Ahmad, her fourth son and a tailor by profession disappeared
three to four years back. Witnessing all this, Nissar got mentally
disturbed and disappeared one fine morning. Sometimes, he worked as
labourer but usually he worked as tailor, his mother said.

Sayeeda said that she went to various places to trace her missing son
and tried to locate him at his relatives place as well, but of no use.
“The machine, he worked on still lies at home and a glance over it
sends shivers down my spine,” she said.

“Everything happened after 1990 when my first son died,” she
commented. All her daughters are married and she said that they seldom
visit her.

Somehow, Sayeeda Begum finds some sort of relief at Jammu and Kashmir
Yateem Foundation that hopes to sustain her life to a certain extent.

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