By Saba Firdous
‘Ammi apke haath se khoon beh raha hai hai’
(Mother, your hand is bleeding!), yelled little Aamina as she entered her house and saw blood oozing from her mother, Haleema’s hand. Within seconds, Aamina bandaged Haleema’s hand, all the while tears pouring from her eyes. ‘Mai theek hun beti,’ (I am fine, daughter.) said Haleema, knowing well how sensitive her daughter was. However, all this was nothing new for Aamina as she had been witnessing these events since her childhood.
Aamina was only eight when she had started working in local households along with her mother. She belonged to a well civilized area of Kashmir, an area which is a hub of commercial set-up, hotels and restaurants but at the same time is a hub of nuisance as well. It is a place where the economy is always booming but moral values are constantly degrading. A place where on one hand people from different parts of the world are found enjoying the beauty of the valley, snow covered mountains and exotic lakes, while on the other hand people are also found destroying this mesmerizing beauty by filling the surrounding waters with all their dirt. Just near this breathtaking location was a shop where Abdul Hameed, Aamina’s father, was often found lying unconscious. Much too often people from the same locality would take him home in that condition. The shop with a big board hanging on its top reads, ‘BEER and WINE’, where not only Hameed but many other people were found in very similar and extremely appalling conditions. This very shop had become an issue of concern for the people living in its vicinity. They had complained to the concerned authorities about it, but all in vain.
While working in different households, Aamina could not help but wonder how she would have lived if she had taken birth in one of these well off families. Her favourite place to work was Mr. Zaffar’s place. Zaffar would treat Aamina in a very polite manner. Aamina’s mother had also been working at Zaffar’s place since a long She was quite familiar with the atmosphere over there and so felt comfortable taking Aamina along with her. Haleema knew that her only daughter was quite safe at Zaffar’s place. Zaffar, a well known business manm had no children of his own .Whenever he would see Aamina, he would hug her and give her the warmth of his love. He loved Aamina as if she was his own daughter.
Hameed, a drunkard, had left his job soon after he married Haleema. Hameed had a big tailoring shop, where he used to make a lot of profit. But it all vanished when once, suddenly, Hameed got addicted to the nasty vice of drinking alcohol. His shop was taken over by Tariq, his younger brother who cared little about Haleema and his niece Aamina. He did not give a single penny to them. So Haleema along with her daughter started working in different households to earn their livelihood.
Everyday Hameed would return home drunk and ask Haleema for more money to satisfy his urge for drinking. If she refused, he would beat her to the extent that Haleema would either start bleeding or would faint. Aamina would witness all this helplessly. She would spend most of the time working at Zaffar’s place to escape from all the worries of her life.
However, fate was not done with the two of them. To add to their miseries, it so happened that one day while working at Zaffar’s place Haleema fell down unconscious. She was immediately rushed to the hospital. Haleema’s condition worsened. Doctors after examining her came to the conclusion that she had suffered a major cardiac attack. Doctors had warned Haleema to go for a proper treatment much before. However, Haleema’s income could hardly satisfy all her needs and so she used to avoid going for proper medical checkups she could not afford. She was still at hospital and the chances of her recovery were very slim. Almost a week had passed. One day, as was fate, she was free from all the miseries of her life. The doctors declared her dead.
On seeing her mother lying on her death bed, Aamina found herself in a state of shock. Now, she had lost both her mother and father. She had no words to express her sorrow and would just cry silently.
This ugly incident left a deep impact on her mind and soul. Since then Zaffar has been looking after her .She does not know where her mother has gone. Why did she leave her even though she knew that her beloved daughter would always need her the most?
Hameed, however, is the same as he was. He is still found lying in that shop which has destroyed the life of many innocent girls like Aamina.