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As the bright crimson rays of the gleaming sun penetrated her room, and touched her tender face, she got up promptly and recalled her day long schedule. She was cute, innocent, sensitive and soft-spoken as if she has descended from the heavens. She was simple and adorable. Her sparkling eyes seemed to be full of surprises. She was untouched by the realities of this world. Pain and suffering were away from her. Her name was Shifa and she lived in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. Shifa had just stepped out of her teens and she had recently joined the college. All her friends delighted in her presence. She possessed the art of making others feel that they were special and mean a lot. She was very popular among her teachers and classmates. Meanwhile, her exams were coming closer, so she was preparing day and night and remained too engaged in her studies. She did well in her papers and life was going normally as usual. But she was eagerly waiting for the results to come. At last, after some time, Shifa's wait was over and the results were to come on the annual day of the college. Her joy knew no bounds when she was declared first in her exams. One the same occasion, there was a boy named Salman, who had topped among the boys. Salman shared his qualities with Shifa in terms of fame, softness and simplicity. Both of them saw each other on the stage for the first time. Salman looked at her and she seemed simply beautiful and charming in her silky pink scarf. After the end of the ceremony, both Salman and Shifa were excited to meet each other. The next day, both of them went to the college as usual. Fortunately they saw each other in the college campus. Salman
went near her and greeted her with Salaam. She responded to it with a broad smile on her lips that was an affirmative sign for Salman. He invited Shifa for coffee in the college canteen to which she readily agreed. They walked together to the canteen and soon started sipping hot coffee and discussing diverse issues. They were surprised to find that they had almost same views on different aspects of life. After conversing for long time, both Salman and Shifa decided to go home. They went together on the straight road that led to the college gate, saying nothing, and both of them were thinking that they had the best conversation of their lives. Afterwards, Salman and Shifa met daily in the college campus and used to discuss for long hours. They had fallen in love and they seemed to be too pleased with their lives. Meanwhile, it was Shifa's birthday and Salman was madly thinking and making choice of gift to offer her. Finally an idea stuck his mind and he decided to give her a ring as her birthday gift. As per routine they met in the college campus and both of them were very happy. When Shifa asked for her Birthday gift, Salman took out a black velvet pouch from his pocket and requested Shifa to open it. She was really overwhelmed with joy when she saw a platinum ring and a gleaming diamond embedded in it. It was an eternal gift for Shifa. Her eyes were shining and wet with tears. At this moment, Salman said to her, "Will you marry me?" and she replied, "Yessssssssss". Shifa's affirmation soothed Salman's heart and he felt light. Then they decided to tell their parents and get their engagement done as early as possible. By the time, both Salman and Shifa completed their graduation. Shifa joined the University and during those very days, Salman got a scholarship from London to pursue his Masters there. Salman had to go for two years and this made Shifa sad but she controlled her emotions and encouraged Salman to go there and not to lose this golden opportunity. Meanwhile Salman left for London and Shifa was
all times thinking just about him. Salman sent her emails everyday and even called her many a times. Shifa's eyes used to turn wet when she read the emotional emails of Salman and he promised to bring her lots of gifts on his return from London. Shifa always prayed for his happiness and prosperity and so did Salman. Not even the minutest detail of their lives was hidden from each other. A few months passed by and everything was going fine until one day curfew was announced in the downtown area of Srinagar at midnight. Shifa lived in that area and her house was also cordoned. Shifa had just finished her morning prayers when Army troops entered into her home and dragged out her family members and including her mother, brother and father. She couldn't understand what was going on. She just got frozen on her prayer mat and stood watching everything. Then the troops entered into her room and dragged her towards the corner. She started to cry loudly but there was nobody to hear. The troops stripped off her clothes and one by one tore her chastity into pieces for several hours. She kept on crying and pleading but it was futile before the merciless wolves. The troops went off and then it was only Shifa, who was left alone to face this cruel world that would never allow her to continue her life again. Her family exempted her from home due to the spreading rumours and they told everyone that she had died. A sensitive girl like Shifa couldn't bear this shock and that moment she made a horrible decision to put an end to her life. She took out the diamond from the ring, that Salman had gifted her and swallowed it and ended her life. She was already dead for her family, but now Shifa was dead for the rest of the world too. Now the agonies of this world were over and her soul rested in eternal peace. Meanwhile, Salman who was unaware of all these facts was too much worried as he didn't have any reply to his emails which he sent to Shifa. Moreover her Cell phone was also switched off. This continued
for a long time till one day Salman could resist no more and he decided to take leave from college and come to Kashmir to see his first and true love, Shifa. Afterwards, he landed in Kashmir and tried to find out the real fact. He tried a lot but was unsuccessful to get any trace of Shifa. Even her home was locked as her family had moved out from that place after her death. The numbers of unanswered questions in Salman’s mind were subsequently increasing. At last, he met Ifra, Shifa's best friend, who started telling him all the truth. Salman listened to the entire woeful parable patiently. When he heard that his Shifa was DEAD, he couldn't bear that. He broke down and fell on the ground crying and sobbing bitterly. He could never imagine that this would have happened after he went off. Before leaving, Ifra took out a ring from her purse and handed it over to Salman. It was the same ring that Salman had gifted Shifa on her Birthday. The ring without its diamond was looking dull, and so was now Salman's life. At that very moment, Salman swore by the name of Allah that he will renounce all the pleasures of this world and will fight against the evil troops till his last breath in order to revenge for Shifa's painful demise. He gave up his degree at college and left his home without informing anybody, to go to the other side of the border for arms training. He went there and joined some Jehadi group. He got himself trained in arms and rifles. He even learned to make explosives himself. When he returned back from there, he seemed to be a completely different man. Clad in black khan-dress, having a thick long beard, Major Saifullah was the new Salman. He looked healthier now. His eyes seemed to be full of flames beyond which he hid the painful story of his love. He pretended to strong outside, but inside he was completely shattered by Shifa's sad demise. Forwarding his mission, Salman alias Major Saifullah did the onslaught of many Army camps and was successful to obliterate many troopers which soothed the burning flame inside his heart. His name was listed among the
top wanted militants of Kashmir. Both Army and police were madly searching for him. One day Salman was in his hideout along with his fellows. It was Friday and he was reciting the Qur'an. His eyes were wet and his heart was lost somewhere as if something unusual was going to happen. He then raised his hands and prayed for Shifa's peace in heaven. Suddenly he got the news that the house was being cordoned and they were under the sway of the army. Just then, Salman picked up his rifle and by this moment the battle had already begun. Salman went to the front and started firing. One by one all his fellows got killed in the cross firing and Salman was the only one who was left. He kept on firing till all his bullets were over. However, Salman went down the stairs and decided to escape from the backside of the house. As soon as he opened the door and marched outside, the fierce bullets of the troopers hit him and pierced his body. He fell down on his knees. A cool breeze passed by, touching his face. The world around him seemed to be swirling around. The everlasting memories of Shifa flashed in his mind. He remembered all the moments that he spent with her. There was a faint smile on his face that faded away when another bullet hit his chest. He fell down dead with open arms. His eyes were wide open as if they were longing for someone. In his one hand was his AK47 rifle and in the other one was that platinum ring with blood on it that gave it a new red colour. They had thought of making their own dream world but their fate was rebellious to that. And in this way another chapter of the long untold story got closed forever. (This story of the Author won one of the best short story prizes in 2008 held by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, India)
(The Author can be reached at www.yaqeenulhaq.info or can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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