By Yusra Khan
Sitting in a corner, she peeps through the open window of her blue-walled room all the time. She wants to be the first one to see him coming home again. And she strongly believes in that.
Dilruba’s sunken eyes do not get wet anymore. She has been thrown out by her in-laws from their house as they believe that she was responsible for the missing of her only son.
“My mother-in-law blamed me for my son’s missing. He was my only son. How can a mother sell her child whom she carried in her womb for nine months,” says a visibly depressed Dilruba.
Three year old, Mehraan Lateif Mir went missing on May 13, 2008. Recalling the events of that fateful day, when her son went missing, Dilruba says that Mehraan, a student of Canny Mission School, Court Road had just returned from school in the afternoon.
Mehraan would often go to the house of his father’s maternal uncle nearby. One of their children was his close friend and the duo would often spend time playing together.
According to Dilruba, she had served lunch to Mehraan on the day he went missing. She had brought him candies and dropped him at the place of his father’s maternal uncle. At 4 pm, when she went there again to fetch him back for tuitions, he had already left the place.
Mehraan’s family looked for him everywhere in the neighborhood till late that night. They visited the houses of neighbors and relatives but failed to get any clue. They also made announcements in the nearby mosque and filed a report in Kral-Khud police station.
Police prepared a sketch of the elderly man based on the descriptions given by the persons , including two of Mehraan’s classmates and a shopkeeper from Aali Kadal, who claimed that he had seen Mehraan walking with the unknown person .By the time police could trace the person, the critical time had already been lost and Mehraan too.
Mehraan’s mother says the day he went missing, he was wearing his favourite yellow T-shirt and grey jeans. “I remember how he irritated me on that day while I served him lunch. I am unable understand what has happened. Sometimes I feel my son is just hiding somewhere very close and is about to surprise me,” says Dilruba, tears rolling down her cheeks.
When police failed to trace Mehraan, his family finally decided to approach the court. Prominent lawyer and Kashmir high court bar association president, Mian Abdul Qayoom filed a public interest litigation on behalf of Mehraan’s maternal uncle rouf ahmad, accusing the police of having acted with negligence .
Court handed over the case to crime branch. Even after three long years, the department is still out of any clue.
“We don’t believe authorities any more. The department enquired as if we were the culprits. They made us visit their office every day. But now we don’t ask them to find out our son. It is up to God,” says Mehraan’s father Latief Ahmad Mir, who runs a butcher shop.
Politicians do play their game. They made Mehraan a vote bank for them. Before the last assembly elections, Shameema Firdous, the then councilor from Habba Kadal ward announced a reward of rupees 50000 to anybody providing information about Mehraan, but the family is disappointed about the lack of initiative of the case.
“We met every politician. They promised their support, but once they assumed power, they did nothing,” said Mir.
Mir and Dilruba shifted to Gojwara locality with their 14-month-old daughter, after they were thrown out of their ancestral house at Habba Kadal. Mehreen, Mehraan’s sister is unaware of the fact that she ever had a brother. “It is our daughter for whom we live and it is Mehraan for whom we die. Nobody can replace him, not even Mehreen,” says Dilruba.
Mehraan’s clothes are still in his cupboard, books in desk. It is unbearable for his parents to look at his belongings.
“Whenever I see any child going to school, I think of Mehraan whether he is alive or not? If he is, then what he might be doing? We always discuss about things related to him in one way or the other- his favourite colours, songs, cartoon shows, toys and what he did on different occasions,” said Mehraan’s mother.
The family even visited the soothsayers who keep assuring them of Mehraan’s return. “We went to Pirs, all of them keep saying that he is safe and would return one day. I wish this were true,” says Mehraan’s father.
The consolations of Pirs no longer do anything to alleviate the pain and hopelessness of the family. The family has lost the hope of Mehraan’s return. “I believe it was written in our luck even before we were born. If God has decided this then what we can do. We can’t challenge him. We have to face it,” says Dilruba, wiping her tears.
Yusra Khan is staff writer for The Kashmir Walla.