Killed in an Instant

Dreams crushed in an instant.

In memory of Sajid Iqbal Khanday, a great friend and an inspiration.

Another day another life taken away, more than 35 people has been killed while driving to their destinations on the roads of Kashmir. Even after so many deaths, the streets are still dangerous to walk leave alone driving. An accident is met with a shock and disbelief by friends and relatives of the departed. It leaves us to question the government who in the name of Bijli, Sadak and Pani (Electricity, Roads and Water) came into power but the conditions are still the same. It also calls for introspection to us, “do we believe in road safety?’”.

We Kashmiris take this thing very casually and most of the time saying “ Yemis Mout Aasi Lekhit,Su kyah kar?” (if death is written in your fate, what can you do?). This attitude lives in all of us, the only persons who take road safety very seriously are our mothers. They will keep saying “Tez ha chalawzini” (Don’t drive fast). But we never listen especially the “Stunt” generation.

The figures with Kashmir Times denote 913 persons have been killed in road accidents in over 3 years in Kashmir.In last two months more than 30 have been killed in a road accident. Almost every day we read on the newspaper headlines about a death in an accident. A deep sigh and a pity on the dead, we forget about it.

In Kashmir it’s very easy to get a driver’s licence. Even an underage teenager can get one. You just have to pay RS 3500 (Standard Rate) to the agent and you will get the licence in few weeks.The driving test is to go forward and reverse
around equidistant poles and if you did it well, Voila! You have got a licence. Ignoring the basic knowledge and knowing of the traffic rules and ethics. For the Heavy Motorable Vehicles you just have to drive up and down a steep climbing road and you got a licence.

Every year on the dangerous Pir Panjal Highway which connects Jammu to Srinagar scores of accidents happen daily. The majority of them are the TATA Sumos, which if you see drive like if they were Ferraris or even a roller coasters (knowing the condition of Kashmir roads).

After passing the tenth exams which are as important as IIT even more than that socially speaking, every youngster wants a New Pulsar in his home. Doesn’t matter if his parents can afford but he still keeps nagging, apparently his friends have got one after the student loans that every bank is giving. Falling into the Khanmoal trap, they buy them one. The guy keeps going fast, to up the speedometer like its taking virginity of the bike. Bam. Panic grips the house, his mother cries, pulls her hair, curses his father why he brought him one. The anguish continues, the mother rubbing her hands. She lands into the hospital, her son entangled in the pipes and other confusing hospital gadgets. Her son’s eyes closed, stomach rising up and down. The mother is relieved that he is alive. She falls into unconsciousness seeing the wounds that are on his beautiful body. The doctor speaks to the father in private, “He will not be able to live any more, and you should start arranging necessary things for his funeral”. The father almost having a heart attack, falls down, remembering how he watched him when he started walking, making sure he didn’t fall. The day his son learnt to ride a bicycle, how he looked at his father with a joyous look on his face. The fall he had how his father ran to him and took him to the compounder’s house in a curfew. Everything is gone for them, Every dream has been crushed. Death they say has no mercy.

Now we have on our hands the new stunt maniac generation of Kashmir. These youngsters filled with a new trend of doing stunts, to make them feel cool and impress the girls. Around tuition centres or the boulevard fore-shore road, you would see tyre marks left by them. Armed with 150+ CC bikes they have racing competitions and stunt shows. The bikers have clubs and post videos on YouTube wearing no stunt safety gear whatsoever. The veterans of these stunt gangs have met with so many accidents, so many injuries but this has become like a drug to them.

Romana, a High School student who died after a stalker tried to pull off a stunt. Faizan a Teenager, speeding was killed by a truck out of nowhere. So many incidents like these have taken lives and lights out of their parents. The pain of losing your only son, daughter or a friend is endless, you never stop grieving. Then come the Trucks, armed with slogans like “HORN OK PLEASE” “USE DIPPER AT NIGHT” “LOVE IS A POISON” and many funny things, come alive during the night like the wolves. The come in packs, enveloping the skies with heaps of dust that our ancient roads carry. The other drivers are blinded and they just ram into them. Death.

One old man told me in the Old City that the roads you drive on are either meant for Tongas or are the canals/rivers filled with the soil, like the graves of the dead. The government believes in that man, trying to dig up a lost civilization underneath. The dug-up drains are so deep that they can fill a double-decker bus but when tiny polythene enters inside, they can’t survive. Once more dug up, keep digging. Dug deeper we may find petroleum or blue diamond sapphires.

It’s time for all of us to stop making fun and being funny about dangers that we face on the roads. Not the Traffic Awareness campaigns that our Police do, but raising awareness from our home. Let’s start saving lives and minimizing the danger on our roads. The time has come to stop the dance of death.

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15 thoughts on “Killed in an Instant

  1. I firmly believe that it has got nothing to do with the condition of roads. We should not play politics on anyone’s death. he must have been trying to get back home hurriedly and lost control in the darkness of the midnight. Its a case of reckless driving nothing else.

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    1. but faysal i agree with other things you say about the rush of adrenaline and peer group pressure in teenagers causing such accidents.Alcoholics and drug addicts have posed a new threat now..they kill innocent people by bumping into them even if these people are walking or standing on footpaths. It is very unfortunate incident, may Allah grant him jannah and give his family the strength and courage to bear this unbearable loss.

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  2. This is high time we parents wake up and start learning to say NO to our kids useless demands without getting emotionally blackmailed or we fufill their demands and wait everyday for them to come home alive with our hearts in our throat.
    We can’t sit back n wait for authorities to do something so we better start it and start it Now before it’s too late.

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  3. Beautiful story, left me with a pain. I am going to watch my kids and tell others to watch out for their children.
    Thanks

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  4. Dearest Readers,
    This post was to initiate a sense of road safety in Kashmir. I don’t want to lecture you with things to do, its just a sense of responsibility which all of us have to take at our homes.

    Wasalam

    P.S: This post was in memory of my dearest friend Sajid Iqbal, his memories and hundreds that get killed on the streets of Kashmir.

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  5. Dear Muhammad,

    I have a special request for you. I am not Sajid’s Facebook friend, or even a known friend. We had a friend in common. I would like to post the following on Sajid’s Wall, but not being a Friend, I am unable to do so. Could you please post it for me with the appropriate explanation/disclaimer?

    Thank you for understanding.

    Kate

    ——————————————————

    I had never met Sajid. He did not know who I was. Sajid became friends with my friend when they studied at the same university in England a few years ago. This was what my friend wrote to me when he first mentioned Sajid:

    “Sajid is a law student from Kashmir. He is one of my favourite mates I’ve met this year, purely because he is the sweetest guy that God ever created. He is SO Indian in the way he speaks, thinks, expresses himself … He says things like ‘Mmm, yes, one would expect the needs of the students to be immediately recognised by the Union, or some such thing’… Oh Kate, he is fantastic. Plus he reminds me of you, not just because you’re both twig-like, but because you both have high personal moral standards. He, too, is always trying to learn the good habits of others to replace his bad ones.”

    A year later, when Sajid had to return to Kashmir, this is what my friend wrote to me:

    “It’s official. I love Sajid Iqbal Khandey. He is a saintly man. He has a heart of gold and when he leaves the UK, I will miss him dearly. He is in Ireland now visiting another friend after his Schengen visa application didn’t come through on time; then a short stint in Edinburgh and he flies back to Srinagar on the 12th. I don’t want him to go. 😥 ”

    My friend continued to write about Sajid frequently, and with fondness.

    I am very realistic about death. I accept that it is indeterminable and inevitable. Still, when it happens to someone I know and care about, it hurts. Like heck. Although I never knew Sajid, I was still stunned when I learned the terrible news very early this morning. It’s taken me a few hours to compose my thoughts.

    I am grateful for the happiness Sajid brought into my friend’s life which was evident in their Wall banter. I am also grateful to have known of Sajid for a short time because I read his Wall regularly. Initially, because I found him funny. Not long after, because Sajid was one of the people who inspired me to remain steadfast in my beliefs, particularly towards injustices and unfairness. He was one of the people who made it a little easier for me to swim against the sometimes overwhelming tide of public callousness and unethical practices.

    To Sajid’s family members, along with my prayers during this, your darkest hour, I have the following Jewish saying for you:

    God is closest to those with broken hearts.

    And to all of you who were lucky enough to know him more than I got to, I’ll leave you with:
    When you are sorrowful
    look again in your heart,
    and you shall see
    that in truth you are
    weeping for that which has been your delight.
    – Kahlil Gibran

    Sajid – Requiescat in pace et in amore.

    ——————————————————
    Muhammad, thank you very much (in advance) for posting my tribute on Sajid’s Wall.

    Kate

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  6. Thank you VERY much, Muhammad, for complying with my request. I just read Sajid’s Wall and your post on my behalf.

    I wrote that tribute for the following people:

    1. Sajid’s parents and sister. Their pain is … I am unable to fathom that sort of grief, much less find words for it. I hope that when their pain is dulled with the passage of time and they read all the heartfelt messages about their child here, they derive some solace from knowing that their son not only made a positive impact on the lives of the people who knew him, but also on those like me, who did not have the privilege of even meeting him.

    2. My friend who is bleeding. I did not seek his permission to quote excerpts of his private mail to me. I hope that reading back on his own words, he will remember the good times he shared with Sajid and their group of friends. Maybe, just maybe, those happy memories will help him tide over this extremely rough patch.

    3. All of Sajid’s friends. His sudden demise would have been nothing less than shattering. I would suggest that, like me, all of you take courage in the fact that besides being a beautiful person, Sajid also worked towards goals he believed in; not wait, like many of us, for the right time or mood or the planets to align a certain way.

    4. Myself. Although I had never met Sajid personally, hearing about him so often from my friend and laughing at their playful potshots at each other on their respective Walls, I broke down when I heard the news. So young, so full of potential, snuffed out suddenly. In addition to my usual arsenal of prayers, tears and talking to my family and closest friends, I needed to partake with the larger grieving party. It’s working. I feel a lot better now.

    Oh, you DID notice I left out Sajid’s name. Well, he’s more than just knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door, people, he’s rocking with ’em winged ones within!

    Thank you again for your time, Muhammad. You have helped a lot of us deal with this crushing bit of reality. May God bless you.

    Kate

    PS: If you so wish/deem necessary, feel free to copy this post of mine as a follow up comment to my original one on Sajid’s Wall.

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      1. Once again, I appreciate you helping me get my message across, Muhammad. I know I felt a whole lot better writing about Sajid’s shocking demise. I hope those whose lives Sajid touched feel the same sense of peace by doing whatever it is that works for them.

        I still read Sajid’s Wall, and like everyone else, I, too, miss his sombre, thoughtful and action provoking updates. 😦 Oh, the funny ones, too. He had a real fun sense of humour. 🙂

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  7. losing my dearest friend Saj to this tragic accident made me remember my last conversation with him he said” I envy Jammu for having nice roads if not the driving sense . you should see roads of Kashmir they are full of potholes,bad turns n moreover the madness of truck drivers at night” .Its very very unfortunate that my dearest dearest Saj had to be the victim…I seriously think that Govt. should do something about it n moreoever the fact that people are losing more lives to accidents than to militancy should be kept in mind while distributing the funds in J&K .Not only that, our state doesn’t have any 24 hr roadside emergency trauma care .I am so sure that many doctors like myself have trained in ATLS(advanced trauma life support).still there is very little utilization of much needed skills.Its high time the govt . does something about it rather than caging its own people..May this tragedy serve as a wake up call for the minsiters in slumber who also have to travel by road on and off…

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