Voices, I hear their voices. I can barely see who has taken me away from my home. This is not where I should be. I can’t remember anything. All I can recall is being hit in the head by a volley of gun-butts and kicks from those heavy jackboots in my stomach. After that everything went dark and blurry. I could hear the faint cries of my wife and pleadings of my mother. The Major who smelled of filthy alcohol wouldn’t listen. I was dragged and thrown into the truck. I can feel the wounds on my face. There’s blood on my face though strangely it doesn’t hurt anymore. It must be the icy cold weather. My hands are trembling. I don’t know where I am.
“Get that motherfucker from the truck” the Major commanded his troops. The troops dragged him by his feet from the truck and threw on the abandoned street of this village. He was unconscious and he was bleeding in his face. They took him inside by his neck like a hunted animal in the forest.
“Sisterfuckers, throw him in the cell and let him rot there until he wakes up.” the Major shouted while he poured whisky from the old bottle into the glasses. He was getting wasted as he indulged in the occasional bantering of Kashmiris. “Fuckers fucking with me, I will fuck their cunts and their mothers cunt.” as he looked over the empty glass, he grabbed the bottle and chugged on until the last drop. Throwing the bottle out of the window, but it only ended up hitting the floor. Breaking into shards of glass.
The men threw him into the cell. There were no definitions to define such a situation. He was a prisoner without a prison, a hostage held with legit documents, kidnapped with a right of the kidnappers to kidnap him. There are no laws in this land, the power is with the man who holds the gun; uniformed or not-uniformed, protected by the state or hired by the state. Find a man, catch him and then do what ever you want to do. Kill, torture or even chop his body parts. The state entitles you to this luxury plus a suitable reward and a possible promotion in the ranks.
The abandoned house which was in the same street as the Old Maharaja’s Palace, was on a high street which would lead to the hills that overlooked this magnificent lake with tiny boats occupied by tourists and troops. The heavily-forested-hills were on all sides of the lake. It was as if taken from the Bierstadt painting of Sierra Nevada, albeit it had a spirit of its own. It was in the city which thrived on a river for the last 5000 years. A remarkable city in the last corner of Central Asia, which got it’s name from the early Buddhist inhabitants as the city of the sun.
The abandoned house is infamous for it is the place where the Army used to torture rebels or civilians (sometimes to the point of death). The torture camp has lush lawns and a hill that overlooked the lake. The Cell is the underground part of this abandoned-house-turned-into-a-torture-camp. It is pitch dark inside the underground portion. There is only a small window that remains shut most of the times. There is hardly any room inside, one cannot even stretch his legs or lay on the ground properly. This is called ‘Hell’ by those who have previously occupied The Cell.
I have never been so scared that I have cried. Maybe after that day when I fell into the dried up well in the farm fields in the night. I was just walking to scare off the dogs that had invaded our field. It was harvesting season and I didn’t want our family to suffer. For that matter anybody’s family to suffer. As I ran after them with a stick, I fell inside the well in the dark. I screamed the whole night, with the howling of the dogs in the moonless night. I cried and cried until my mother who was searching for me heard my screams. She wanted to go and ask for help. But I refused to let her go. I was crying, I wanted her to be there. She stood there the entire night telling me stories. It was strange when Farooq Kak the Muezzin of the Mosque found my mother talking to me. He thought she had gone crazy until he heard me calling his name. Farooq Kak announced on the loudspeaker of the mosque. Soon the entire village volunteered in the mission to take me out as my mother kept reading from the scriptures to seek help from God Almighty. But today is different. There’s no village, I can’t fucking move my legs. Can’t even sleep properly. Haha, I expect a five star treatment from these bastards. Pity me. There’s no mother tonight. I have never missed her so much in life. What did I do to invite a fate like this?
It was morning, the troops had woken up. They took him out from The Cell and made him sit on a broken-walnut-wooden-chair (probably from the previous times). He was surrounded by troops on all sides. Some in plain clothes and some wearing uniforms with black bandannas on head. A officer came forward and he punched him in the face so hard that he fell from the chair onto the floor.
“Motherfucker, you think this is a movie?” (slapping him on the face)
“What did I do, sir?: He was crying like a baby who was deprived of milk
“You fucking did nothing, sister fucker”
“Sir, please I have done nothing”
He was kicked in the gut by the officer. He fell from the chair, bleeding from his mouth.
“Gulzar, tie this bastard with the chair.” shouted the Officer in the room as the other men looked on with pale faces. “Ask this bastard, what is his name.” Gulzar asked him in his native language. He whispered in Gulzar’s ear. “Sir, he says his name is Hilal Ahmad Kawa.”
Hilal was tied with a rope to the chair.Almost lifeless.
Officer: Hilal, I am going to make it quick and easy. If you cooperate, this will be over sooner.
Hilal: (Coughing with tears streaming down his bloodied face) Water. I need water sir
Officer: Only after we finish.
Hilal: Water I am thirsty.
Officer: Are you involved with those terrorist bastards
HIlal: No sir I am not involved with them
Officer: We know about your involvement with Umar and Bilal. So tell us their locations and you’ll be free.
Hilal: I swear on almighty I don’t know any Umar or Bilal, Sir I am innocent
Officer: Hilal, quit fucking me around . It will not work.
Hilal: I swear on my mother’s life. I don’t know anyone of them.
Officer lands fist on his nose, cracking it, the sound echoes in the room. Hilal screams in pain.
Officer: Motherfucker, Tell me where are they, I will leave you. Don’t fuck with me bastard
Hilal: (crying in pain) Sir I don’t know anyone of them. Sir please stop I am innocent. I am only a farmer.
Officer lands another punch on his broken nose. A stream of blood hits the Officer’s face.
Officer: (wiping his face with a white napkin) Motherfucker, I will make your life so miserable that you forget that you are even a living thing.
Hilal keeps screaming in pain, he is crying and trying to rip himself from the ropes. Alas, the ropes are stronger than his wrists.
“Make this bastard talk” The officer tells his men as he goes by the stairs.
Hilal was taken to a small room, four by six feet, possibly a bathroom, with red marble tiles on the floor and walls coated with plaster of Paris.They stripped him down to his underwear, tied his hands and legs. They took a thick wooden roller and placed it under his knees as he sat on the floor. They told him to put his arms underneath the roller and up, and then they tied his hands above his legs. He was like a human-football. They started kicking him in his guts and his back, anywhere their legs went. They beat him with truncheons. They asked him the same questions as the Officer had done before. Hilal pleaded for mercy but they wouldn’t listen. They put a cloth in his mouth and spread another cloth from a wheat bag over his face. He was laying on the floor facing the ceiling. They poured water into a bucket and then they poured the bucket over his face. The water went inside his nostrils choking him. He screamed for mercy. He was desperate, he tried moving his hands but the ropes didn’t let him. He tried to move his legs but the ropes didn’t let him. Somebody hit him in the head with the truncheon. Hilal lost conscious. They kept repeating the beating until they got tired.
Hilal started moving his lips. The Officer in the meanwhile had returned. Hilal came back to his senses, the men were saying “Tell him the truth, cooperate.” Hilal wouldn’t say anything. He had lost his voice. He was exhausted from the pain and from all the punishment. The officer patted his cheeks and called him by his name. He wouldn’t recognise who he was, it was all blurry. The officer signalled for Gulzar to come. He brought a small magnet-type telephone box. They attached one red wire to his left earlobe and other to different places, one on his toes, one on his other ear and then on his penis. They ran the current and he screamed in pain. He lost consciousness again.
The men had left the room, Hilal was untied and left there on the floor. Half dead. The light from the small window had gone. There was nobody in the dark room. Except Hilal and the sticks with which he was beaten up. Never would anyone have realised that war of independence would bring animals to this land of tranquility. The life was sucked into thin air with dark clouds in the sky hovering over like demons. Death had come to reside in the valley.
When Hilal came back to his senses again, realising he had urinated and defecated on himself. He wept bitterly and screamed over his helplessness. Gulzar was in the room with him. He held his hands but couldn’t stare into his eyes. He handed over some clothes and gave him a bucket to wash himself with. Hilal tried to stand up, but his legs gave away. He had no strength left in his body. Gulzar made him do some exercises to regain strength. But Gulzar wouldn’t dare look into his eyes.
Gulzar took Hilal into the bathroom outside. Hilal poured bucket of water over his battered body. He looked down on his feet and he saw his man-hood bruised with black colour. He looked over his hands and the wounds on his body. He fell down. And screamed “Oh Almighty, what did I ever do to invite such a fate”.
to be continued…