The room smelled of heena, applied on bride’s hands; while the house smelled of sumptuous Wazwan. Amidst the grand celebration of the wedding and Kashmiri songs at the backdrop, little did Rubeena Jan – the bride, knew about the forthcoming darkness in her life.

On 11 September, a week ago, Jan’s home in North Kashmir’s Sopore was decorated with garlands and guests. But on that night of her mehendi, she got the news that her 32-year-old brother, Liyaqat Ahmed Lone, a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant (LeT) was trapped in an encounter and was later killed by the government forces in Handwara area. As soon as she confirmed the news, her face, which earlier was radiating the glow of the bride-to-be, turned into something pale and grim.

“Our home was preoccupied by the commotion of the relatives and guests,” said Jan, while as the unbearable silence persisted in the background. “I was putting all the jewellery and made myself ready for my mehendi night. The news of Liyaqat came as a shock to me. I started crying and praying for his return. I didn’t know only his body would return to me. His soul and body couldn’t make it together to my wedding.”

Jan’s nuptial was preceded by her elder brother, Javaid Ahmad Lone’s marriage. His marriage took place on 9 September and Jan’s sister-in-law graced her home on the same day when Jan lost her younger brother, Liyaqat.

Earlier brimming with the excitement of the two weddings, the house had now transmuted into a mourning ground. Liyaqat’s bullet pierced body was laid there amidst the withered garlands and the wailing.

Rubeena’s hands with Mehendi.

Liyaqat had gone missing in February this year but his photograph with AK-47 appeared on social media in July, announcing his joining of the militant ranks. He had never visited home, and the family also didn’t come to know about his whereabouts in this time. Being away, he had no idea about his sister’s and brother’s courtship.

“He didn’t even know when the event was going to take place,” added Jan. “Nevertheless, he came to my wedding but not the way we wanted him to come.” Liyaqat’s body was handed over to the family, late in the afternoon on 11 September and the groom-to-be was also present at the funeral procession.

“I attended the procession because I cannot leave Rubeena mourning alone. We are together in this,” said Jan’s groom.

However, due to the unfortunate turn of events, Jan’s marriage was cancelled and the relatives went back home leaving behind the traces of tears and unfinished wedding.

“I beg these TV reporters not to show only one side of the story,” said Jan, furiously.  “There are other sides attached to it that are needed to be heard and addressed. That is the cry of the mother and the wailing sister. After losing everything on my supposedly big day, I got to hear ill about my brother on the TV. This is the last thing I want to hear and see.”

Jan is mourning silently in the corner of her room, where the tinge of the smell of her mehendi could still be felt.

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