Without You Our Garden Will Be Empty

Whenever a loved one leaves, their memory eats away your heart. The air around you becomes so dense that the memories within it start to choke you. In the silence you hear their voices whispering around your ears. You hear the voices of the history inscribed on the decaying pages of your wit. Just like that you catch a glance of their clothes, everything else looks so dark and you feel their presence.

Today, as the darkness fell on the village, I knew I had to stop hoping for you to come and chirp with me in the freedom of our apple orchard in the evenings. But your essence still roams throughout this garden. Remember the plants you used to water? Well, they are just hoping to see us together again. And you know the people today have named you Newton? An important name. Rationally, absurd. You never saw the apple falling on the ground and discovered gravity afterwards. But yet you have taught me the gravity of love. You taught me when I was little and you used to carry me on your back in the garden, and tell me your stories that would spawn out of your brain.

You taught me when you used to wake up before dawn to perform your ablutions and say Adhan(the prayer call). Let me say it today, as I won’t get a chance to say it on any other day, that when you said Adhan, Ammi would look at me and put her finger on mouth and whisper, “Ssh! Hear if you can, how melodic he sounds!” She’d believe that all the birds in our garden would gather and stop chirping as they knew their Bulbul was giving Adhan. The flowers would cut loose from the branches and bum around on hearing the melodies in your Adhan, she believed. She believed that because those birds adored you, they’d surround you wherever you’d sit. It was you who used to come up with fistful of cereals for the birds. As I look back, I get that you have taught me the meaning of love in religion and love for each species as well.You told me how you could not do anything but be a coward, when you had to witness a woman getting upsetting and abusive comments from a soldier, who you said was staring at her in a lecherous manner, and only Baba held you back. But as I look back today, it wasn’t you who was coward, but the armed man who was a goon, proud of his possession of a rifle, malnourished for his lack of sanity. I learned that you have even taught me the gravity of love in humanity — and love for our watan — Kashmir. It’s such that you have taught me, but it’s that I still am learning. In that way you truly are a Newton. A nation, which is oppressed by hatred and mental torture needs a network of Newtons like you to set themselves and the nation free from its cage.

The village is overwhelmed in the dark now. The birds sitting on the branches in the garden have put their heads on heels. They are waiting for you. Mauj believes they will just be there chirping “Bulbul, without you our garden is empty. We shall sing this along until the moon will appear in the sky. We shall cry this every day when we will fly. We, birds, know only the truth, no lie.”And as I walk into the garden where we grew up together, I could remember. I remember us, we are running through the alley of cherry trees, I am following you and you are running and running away. We both can’t stop laughing as we know why we are running. I give up, sit down, and am saying, “Wait! Stop now. You catchy Bulbul, I can’t catch you.”You are coming towards me, I see through the corner of my left eye, I tend to jump a little and catch your wrist, but I slip behind and you run and run away from me.“I still have these good memories with me, Bulbul,” I gasped as I took this note out at your grave in the garden and realized that I just slipped awake from your memories, at your grave in the garden; as your lovers, the birds fluttered by. The garden that has turned into the graveyard. The garden that will be empty without you.

~Haziq Qayoom Lone

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