^ Wiwiek Widiasati alias Saima, along with her daughter, at her home in Kareemabad, Pulwama district of South Kashmir. Photograph by Vikar Syed for The Kashmir Walla

The plain life of Wiwiek Widiasati took an unexpected romantic turn in 2016 when Abid Hussain Lone, then 35-year-old, traveled to Indonesia. Started from social media conversations to reading nikaah (wedding) with ‘her man’ in her homeland, Ms. Widiasati was living her dream.

Wiwiek Widiasati was now Saima. Abid Hussain Lone’s Saima.  

Within a year, the couple had a baby girl, Adifa. Unknown of the ground reality, the couple came to Mr. Lone’s homeland, Kashmir valley.

Soon, the volatile conflict shadowed their life, and in a day, Saima was not merely widowed, ‘their’ baby, 3-months-old, Adifa was not merely orphaned, but the only support she had in the Valley, the only shoulder to cry and laugh upon was buried on 15 December 2018. Mr. Lone was among the seven civilians who lost their lives on 15 December near the encounter site in Sirnoo area, Pulwama.

“It has been 33 days now; I am living here without my beloved. It is becoming more difficult for me; he used to come home by Magrib (dusk). He would knock the door and greet the salam, but now — he will never come,” said Ms. Saima.

Thirty-five kilometers down the southern side of the Valley, a village, surrounded by dense apple orchards, the macadamized road divides the village, Kareemabad, under the Pulwama district; notably most conflict-affected area since 2016 civilian uprising.

“I want to stay here, and Insha-Allah, I will; my husband is here. I and my husband’s family feel his presence in our daughter,” added Ms. Saima with Adifa playing in her lap.

Mr. Lone’s father died a natural death a few years ago. Ms. Saima is now living with her 4-months-old daughter, Adifa Jan in Mr. Lone’s ancestral house. Her mother-in-law is using small English slangs to conversate with her: “take the fire-pot it’s cold. Adifa Jan is looking for milk.”

But she is quite old, and most of the women in her village cannot speak English. “We all want her to stay with us, we see the hope in Saima and her daughter,” said Mr.  Lone’s mother.

A week after Mr. Lone’s untimely death in December last year, the family couldn’t find Ms. Saima at home at dusk. She went to his grave, and was found resting her head on it, wailing, “Wake up, wake up! our baby is waiting.” After it, the family barred her from going there. She protested, went mute, and alienated herself; failing to get her back to life, the family agreed to take her to the grave as per schedule.

Many times, looking at Adifa crying in her lap, Ms. Saima would console her, and re-iterates, “He is alive, he is alive,” and would often call ‘her’ by ‘his’ name.

A few kilometers away from their home, there is a local ‘martyrs’ graveyard’. Following the Friday prayers, young boys visit there to offer prayers; in a similar fashion, Ms. Saima visits the grave of her husband, at least thrice in a week now.

“After four or five months, I will apply for OCIA (Overseas Citizenship of India) citizenship, and will start looking for jobs in the Kashmir,” concluded Ms. Saima.

As the country celebrates its 70 years of execution of the longest constitution in the world, somewhere in the disputed region, hundreds long for their loved ones to return home or justice.

Additional reporting by Yashraj Sharma

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