I am a tailor. I specialize in sewing shrouds! In the spring of 2015, two young boys came to my shop. They asked me to sew the green crescent flags. I asked them to wait as I was busy stitching a bride’s gown. Two young boys had been martyred in Tral. Their last wish was to be buried with the Green Crescent flag. One of the two boys made me listen to the last call that they had made to their family. I began to shiver after listening to this recorded phone call.
In a sane world, boys in their early twenties would have a thousand dreams and resolutions. They would be full of life. They would be talking about new trends in fashion – bikes, cars, sports, tours, travel, career, lotteries, torn jeans, music, and college gossip. But this is Kashmir. Sanity is a luxury here. Three-year-olds talk about politics here. Four-year-olds are rebels. Six-year-old children popping their toffees and lollipops are labeled as terrorists. The retirement age is fourteen here. The world laughs at us and we cry at their innocence. We have nothing but this life to offer. We have nothing but our bruised bodies. The pellets in our eyes are memorials. Only death is our own. Two boys in their early twenties wishing to be buried in the Pakistani flag is the only way to convey their love.
A white shroud sanctified by our religion perhaps teaches us the finite truth of this world. They say life is colorful. Death is colorless. We are born with our prejudices. The white shroud makes us equal. Our shroud is a message for the living. In death, we communicate with life. This is our last communication! The last communication has to be special. The green flag as a shroud is our last special message. It is our open love letter to the beloved. Also, it has another subtle meaning. We intend to be buried with the symbol of beloved. In life, our beloved remained elusive. In life, our love remained unrelinquished. In death, we quench the thirst of the union.
My hands have stitched green crescent shrouds. I used to count the shrouds that I stitched. I lost count. Numbers don’t matter. We all are a number. I would stitch the emotions and dreams. Each thread of the shroud was an idea – Allama Iqbal’s vision, Qaid-e-Azam’s dreams, and Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s resilience. My hands would often shiver as I imprinted the crescent. The crescent bears witness to the divinity of our beloved Prophet. The moon had split up open into two halves to claim its love for our Prophet. The believers didn’t need the miracle. The non-believers deep down knew about his Prophethood but they asked for the proof, as their eyes had been shut, their hearts were locked and their ears were deaf. The crescent on the shroud covers the bruises of our holy martyrs. The bruised bodies of our martyrs wrapped in the green crescent would rise up on the Day of Judgment and bear witness to our struggle, love, and life.
The purpose of scribbling this confession today is to let the beloved know that we exist. We have no expectations from you. We never had. Our love for you is unconditional. You may carry on your indifference. You may hold the world dear to you. You may shut your eyes. You may give a deaf ear to our sighs. You may be worshipping new gods now. But remember my sewing machine would still sew the flag even though our burials are secret now. The green crescent would either fly high in the skies of Kashmir or shine on our dead bodies.
That day in the spring of 2015, and for the summers to follow and for the winter that descended, I kept sewing the green flag. We wrapped our young Commander, our ideologue, our children, our scholars and our beloved in green. Only the green sheath heals our wounds.
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Hussian hails from Indian Occupied Kashmir