We knew that this little girl Shab was the daughter of a terror lord in Bandipora! Ibrahim was the name!
‘And we also knew that she could be the one who could tell her father that what he was doing was absurd. Father of two daughters in a rogue company of Kalashnikov carriers, in itself was an absurd idea vur in those days no one was prepared to listen to anyone but this little did the impossible. The name Shab. It was 1995 when we were to meet the small, fair looking kid for the first time as she stood by her mother’s side with her young kid sister in the lap of her mother. Later on we came to know that her name was Shama very loveably kept by their father Ibrahim but a man possessed by demons’! The mother’s name was Mahira!’
‘We knew everything yet refrained from going to the house which we knew was of a man who had a lovely family but had decided to take the roads which he should not have taken. Many died and many perished but Ibrahim was lucky because Shab stood between his life and death and somehow became a motivating factor to ensure that her father came back from the horror-ridden voyage on turbulent oceans. The oceans owf a fantasy ridden dream where drowning was a surety!’
‘Shab had the sort of eyes that managed perfectly well with things close by, but entirely blur out things far away. Because of this even the brightest stars had only appeared as silvery smudges in the darkness. In all her life, Shab had never properly seen a star. The reason was that her only star was her father and the starlets her mother and sister! That night there was a sky full. Vut it had to be after a year or so! Shab looked up, and it was like walking into a dark room and someone switching on the universe. Her father was back and weeping! (More on this later in the script)’
‘Kids love something which is different. We as grownups also love the same because we too were kids once upon a time. We in the army believe that a smiling face of every little girl is the signature of God’s presence. That was what I experienced when I met the child for the first time. I knew she was the child of the man who we were on the hunt but she srill was a child. Her heart had a powerful little antenna and its vibrations could be felt throughout the Bandipora!’
‘That morning on the routine Roda opening drill I decided to check into the house. It was still and we knew that the family was sleeping. I had an enamel mug full of tea with some biscuits that my helper delivered with that ever smiling face of his. The mug had gobe half empty when the entrance door of the house was opened. An old lady, probably of my granny’s age stood with the lovely Shab smiling. Later on I came to know that Ibrahim was her only son!’
‘I told Suraj my marksman with the dragon-like eyes and expert at sniping (not that I was bad) . Just get the child here along with grandmother. The reluctance was there but soon after a fortnight or so the human bondage did come into existence!’ What mattered were the éclairs and Cadbury bars!’
‘Little Shab always used to smile and the white enamel under her lips made her look like Alice who was lost in a volatile wonderland! But behind the smile was pain. We could understand! I thought it was time to talk to Mahirra!’
‘We did! On the mind board was a list of words and phrases which her mother considered not suitable for use while talking. But little Shab that day stole those words when she said in Kashmiri, these are the words I learned to spell in Mummy’s class today, she wrote, and sighed a little as she began the tedious job of writing the ridiculous word Daddy!’
What the mother could not say the child had! I handed over to her a biscuit pack of Bourbon and walked off! There is time for action and there is also a time for emotions. In this case it was the latter! I knew that the child was trying to save her father and the mother and her husband!’
‘Something’s left in my heart. My friend was asking today morning, ‘Major Shaib Sahib Aaj Bachon Ki Koi Story Nahin’. I kept ringing him but he did not pick up the phone. Obviously, Sunday. Then I scrambled through one of his diaries, I have a couple of them which he left way back into those years of despondency!’ But now it’s time to be joyous’!
That night, I fell into a deep, travel-weary sleep, lulled by the familiar sound of the rainfall beyond the window. I dreamed of the beck fairies, a blur of lavender and rose-pink and buttercup-yellow light, flitting across the glittering stream, beckoning me to follow them toward the woodland cottage. But we were there to tell something to someone who knew what he was going to be told!
The house had been surrounded and we knew we had latched on to Ibrahim, it was time for action but in front of the door stood the small kid. She did tell me, ‘have you come to kill my father?’ I nodded ‘No’! She put her tongue out and felt the raw edges of the torn silk. She looped her tongue around them and drew them into her teeth. Just a little bit, she thought, that’s all I need to free my eyelids. She pulled the tasteless web between her teeth and ground, pulling her jaw down in a grimace – it felt as if she was eating the very skin off her face. But the silk over her eyelids shifted. The father had arrived on the ‘Dead Path’
We held back because there is time for action and there is time for emotions! We will wait for Azaan, I told my band of hunters! Morning half past five as the loud speakers sounded the Azaan thee granny and the kid walked out with the weapon and the man Ibrahim! I said nothing! I shook hands with the child and told Suraj, give her the whole pack of Bourbons! It’s game over! Sometimes it’s time for action and sometimes a simple game of human bondage! Today the kid Shab is in Hyderabad, Shama doing well in Jaipur and the parents loving each other! The third in the list of kids is Idrees! Kids can do the impossible! In shoer Shab saved her father because Indian Army loves kids! The story is true! Because kids are our own!