One would feel that they had forgotten the terror revolving on their heads. But the truth was that they had learnt to live in terror.
The bus-stop was as usual crowded with waiting passengers. Second last in the queue was a boy who kept opening and shutting the lens of his camera while standing at the bus stop. The big, black camera hanging from his neck was the only thing he was carrying. A lose black t-shirt and a pair of worn out baggy jeans pants were hanging over his thin body frame. Natural goatee marked his chin and his face was colourless, ghostly white. He would be barely out of teens but his demeanour gave his face the maturity of forties. He turned the camera around, slapped it a couple of times and tried to adjust the lens again.
The boy managed to squeeze his way to the middle of the jam-packed bus with the man virtually on his shoulder. Though it was a pleasant morning in the Poonch district of Kashmir, the insides of the bus were boiling due to the crowd. Wailing infants and shouting women were adding to the heat. Conductor of the bus rushed towards the new entrants and started handing out tickets.
‘No-no, I don’t regret it, he died bravely like a warrior, though he was a common man. He was just about your age and used to carry the same type off camera around his neck. I am really proud that he died on duty, serving the nation....Do you know, he revealed the exact hideout of the enemy to the Indian army unit posted there just before he died? The Government of India has bestowed Gallantry Award on my son... posthumously. It’s just that I miss him too much and cannot stop myself when I see somebody like him....,’ the man’s voice trailed off as he wiped the corners of his eyes with his hands.
‘Hey chap...Oh boy...,’ Habibulah called after the boy but the boy kept walking at a fast pace. The bus had started off again. The man looked at the departing bus and then ran behind the boy.