Sacrifice

Sunil R P Sethi

Bilqees was getting married to Mohammad Mir  who was 32 years older to her, even older by four years to her father Yaqoob. In fact Yaqoob was deep in debt and life had become difficult for family of Yaqoob to sustain with one pair earning hands in family of seven. That was why he had decided to get her daughter married to richest person of the village Mohammad Mir who had promised to take care of all financial problems of family. Bilqees had one elderly daughter Rafia but Mohammad Mir  chose her as she was  more beautiful than Rafia . So she was asked by father to prepare for her sacrifice, of getting married to a person who was more than age of her father and who, as per rumours, had burnt alive his first wife on a minor fight. She always wanted to marry her cousin Rashid who was 2 years older to her. They loved each other and had exchanged promise of marriage. But fate is cruel and so is life. When life asks for sacrifice it takes away the very best one have.
She came to house of Mohammad Mir  after marriage and soon realised that rumours about him were not false. Mohammad Mir was a  person of very high temper and used to get agitated on trival issues and  followed by abuses , torture and beatings. She forgot even the counts how many time she was thrown out of house and how many shivering nights she had to spend outside door in winters in Kupwara. Her husband even had no concern to at least throw a blanket at her. But he had kept his promise. All debts of Yaqoob were clear and he was running a shop gifted by his son in law and economically family was secured, insecurities of Bilqees apart.
It was peak of militancy and during night there was always curfew. She saw a  number of strangers coming to her husband at odd hours and she was on strict instructions during those times to remain in her room and bolt from inside. Then  started a series of arrests in village and number of persons were killed in encounter. The number was alarming . It was one chilly night that her husband was picked by army and taken out . After sometimes there was firing but nobody dared to go out during night. In the morning villagers saw trail of blood near Jehlum stream and signs of dragging dead body. What had happened last night was very obvious. The dead body must have reached Pakistan occupied Kashmir by that time. There was lot of crying and weeping . Militants also came to her house proclaiming her husband to be Amir of Hizb but she was not concerned . There were no tears in her eyes and why should there be even one with the cruelties inflicted upon her . She came back to her parental home but not before her father got all properties of Mohammad Mir transferred in her name . She was treated as Queen in house .
She met Rashid again after six years. He was working in forest department as a Guard. From her mother she came to know Rashid had refused to marry as he loved some girl who was no more but reality was known to her only besides Rashid . May be Allah had given her second lease of life. In about five months she was married to Rashid with stars in her eyes.
Life with Rashid was all bliss. He was so caring and loving that Bilqees forgot all pains inflicted by Mohammad Mir very soon. In next five years she became mother of two sons and one daughter . All her sisters were also married except youngest one who was studying in MBBS in Govt Medical College Srinagar . She  always thanked Allah for bringing her to Heavens after showing her hell .
Then everything changed one day . There was a big meeting called by militants to introduce  people to their new Divisional Commander. It was huge gathering and then Divisional Commander came…. Mohammad Mir with mark of bullet on his half face and left arm dangling . He was telling public how he was thrown in river presumed dead and how he reached Pakistan and recovered in hospital after long treatment. He then joined trying camp in Mirpur and was then sent to Afghanistan with Talibans . He had come back to his people to fight for Azadi.
Bilqees having married to someone else and having children which she couldn’t bear from him was just intolerable to Divisional Commander of Hizb ul Muzahidin. He summoned Rashid to surrender Bilqees to him and keep children as Bilqees continued to be wife of Mohammad Mir only as per Shariah laws . Rashid was in no position to say no but Bilqees could muster courage to say no. How can she be compelled to leave Rashid and live with monster Mohammad Mir who always treated her with  extreme cruelty and how on earth can someone ask a mother to live without minor Children . Unfortunately her father also was on side of her enemy , whatever may be reason.
To give legitimacy to whole issue Mohammad Mir called meeting of village headman and Molvi to give verdict which was on expected line. It said though marriage of Bilqees with Rashid is not Haram as she married when her husband was presumed dead and her children are also legitimate but as her first husband is still alive and alone has got right over her person so she had to move to Mohammad Mir leaving children to Rashid who can marry younger sister of Bilqees to take care of children . Next Friday was fixed day of Rukhsati when Bilqees would move to house of Mohammad Mir . It was  Thursday. That night she slept with Rashid and all three kids in the  same bed hugging them tightly. That was difficult and longest night of her life .
Next day morning relatives of Mohammad Mir came to take Bilqees . They took Bilqees but she was ice cold , lifeless . They also took bottle of rat poison which was found in her hand in morning.
(The author is senior advocate)
srps7737@gmail.com

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