Srinagar, Feb 26: Whenever a guest enters the room, Yawar Ibrahim, 15, greets him with a smile and a unique gesture.
He raises his left hand towards his right paralyzed arm and then takes it back to on an arc shaped scar in the head. Then, he falls backwards on a pillow. All the way, he keeps his mouth and eyes wide open and then retires to a thoughtful silence.
“Yawar is doing like this for past one and half years,” Yawar’s father, Muhammad Ibrahim Bhat sitting besides his son, said. “He depicts his left hand as a tear gas canister. He indicates that how the tear gas shell went into the air before hitting him on his head which left a wound. How he fell unconscious. And when he takes his left to right arm, he shows that it is due to the canister he was paralyzed and his right hand curled for ever.”
Wearing brown grease-stained phiran (Kashmiri gown), Bhat said his son Yawar was so shocked that he was till date unable to overcome the trauma he met in 2009.
“Now whenever a visitor enters the room, he expresses his feeling and bitter memory through physical gestures. The tragic day, teargas, hospital, police and large number of people remains itched in his mind and expressions,” Bhat said.
Since 2008, Kashmir was rocked by non-violent protests on and off, Yawar along with scores of other people have remained the invisible victims of the conflict. Those victims who never made it to the list of killed, but are like dead.
Yawar lives in the deep congested locality of Maisuma. He was injured on June 30, 2009, when a police tear gas shell hit him in the head. It has been almost one and half year that he has been bed-ridden.
“On June 30, 2009, my son was 13. He went to buy butter. There was a small procession as it was strike that day. Police fired tear gas canisters to disperse boys. One of them landed on the head of my son and he fell unconscious,” Bhat said. “Later the residents rushed him to SKIMS for treatment.”
After nursing and treating Yawar in the hospital for over a month, the doctors finally declared that his right portion of the body would remain paralyzed. They also said that he had lost the ability to speak as the shell which pierced the head has damaged the sensitive parts of the brain.
“From there onwards, our lives changed. My son was mummified in the room. We have to struggle to keep him and ourselves alive,” Bhat, a mechanic by profession, said.
Yawar’s house is a decrepit two storey structure. As one climbs upstairs to look for Yawar as he has been out there from past one and half year, the wooden stair creaks, and the second storey wooden floor shakes with each forward step.
“We have to spend some 1500 rupees each week for his treatment and medicines. We are doing it from when he was injured” Bhat said. “So to spend such a hefty amount was for an impoverished family like us was out of question. Thus I sold my mechanic shop along with the goods. I also sold other property worth selling. Despite spending such a huge sum, Yawar remains bed-ridden.”
Yawar is the lone child of his family. The other family members are his mother, Gulshan Begum, and his two sisters elder to him.
“I also sold my gold items and his sisters trousseau just to treat him,” Begum said. “One of my daughter dropped her one year in studies to nurse Yawar. But nothing worked out.”
Begum said she too was a cardiac patient and she also needed money for her own medicines.
The only monetary source of the family is Yawar’s father. “I work as a mechanic on a pavement at Batamaloo. Sometime I work on workshops whose owners used to be apprentice at my shop,” Bhat said while showing his grease stained fingers.
About help, Bhat said, “In 2009 when my son was in SKIMS, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front provided some monetary help,” adding, “But they too had their limitations. For past one year, I am alone. Leave aside help, nobody has come even to empathize with us.”
Now the family plans top take Yawar to a noted Neuro-surgeon. However, they have no money even to pay the cab for Jammu.
Begum said it seems that life is strangulating their family bit by bit. “Why police snatched my son from me?” she questioned.
Publish Date: 27-02-11 3:33 AM