Sindbad, Hayy bin Yaqzan, Odysseus, Azad, Amir Hamza, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver, Hatim Tai, Don Quixote, Peter Pan; such characters took him to an expedition – on a journey to the future:
An attractive handmade wall-hanging, richly embroidered in silicon-silk, a masterpiece adorned with a map of the United Kashmir, showing the bloodshot coloured Kashmir transforming into emerald and then sapphire, enveloping the front wall of the embassy of United Kashmir in New York, smugly stares pervasive as if it hides a thousand secrets. The beautiful Vale now enjoys close alliances with its two neighbouring powers, which once controlled it for more than a century. The lay-humans, who fought not with India and Pakistan, but with their circumstances and their representatives, chose to use their energy and support from both the countries to improve themselves. Their intellects, which were caught in the debacle of freedom, made their way to administer their prosperity. Their grown-intellect then changed the future of their land. The description inscribed on the masterpiece below – To the President of USA, for initiating a process that made the United Kashmir possible – reflects it as a symbol for the history of Kashmir.
Ibrahim was born in early 1970s to a local established contractor. Unlike his two elder brothers he wasn’t interested in joining school, despite every effort made by his parents and relatives. For some five years, after his admission in a local school, he was forced to attend classes; but finally when his family and teachers understood that he didn’t have education in his fate, they stopped convincing him. He was considered a disgrace to his well-to-do family, not less than an outcast. In the streets, where he mostly spent his time, he was lured by the freedom of the near to the ground youngsters of his town, who in turn desired to belong to a family like his. All the youngsters of the town, who were wasting time in different activities in the streets and the mountain peaks, were shown a direction to earn money in a newly built carpet-centre in their neighbourhood by the government, where they could learn the craft of weaving carpets, become artisans and support their families. When he had nothing to do he too joined the centre and turned into an artisan – a carpet weaver.
His parents and relatives, and the people of his town, were very proud of his other two brothers when they became administrative officers. However, they could only feel sorry for him. He was articulated as an example in the underprivileged families: where the parents want their children to aim high, they try to make them believe that money isn’t an a-priori necessity to do well in life; and how the impotent will ruin the life of even those who have everything available. Ibrahim’s brothers, who were pronounced as the replicas of success, bought land and constructed a big house in a posh colony of Srinagar and left their town along with their parents. Ibrahim too was asked, rather requested, to live with the rest of his family but he thought of himself as a mismatch and decided to stay alone in their ancestral house, which made it easy for him to celebrate his love with a girl of his neighbouring town. He was living what he thought was an ideal life – cooking, eating, wooing his girlfriend, sleeping, and working occasionally in the fields. He would visit his parents only when he was short of money, where his mother would feed his belly with his favourite foods and his father would feed his pockets.
But his ideal life didn’t last for long, it concluded when the family of his supposed girlfriend found her a groom who was doing some government job. He was completely broken when the brother of his beloved beat him and humiliated him. He realised his worth, which was nothing more than dust. His days were hardly passing now. He moved for a time being to live with his parents, but he realised he was only a guest there and he couldn’t heal. Now he was regularly travelling back and forth, from his town to Srinagar. One day he found a chance to gather courage to tell his mother about his beloved and he requested her to convince his father, so that he could do something and get them married. Soon when she informed her husband about Ibrahim’s love for a girl, the wrath of his father fell upon him. Insulted, he swore not to visit his parents again and went to live with his uncles back in the town. In the 1990s when the youngsters in Kashmir were crossing borders to get training and guns to fight against Indian oppression, disappointed and to give meaning to his life he too contacted an undercover agent of a group of freedom fighters. He crossed the LoC (Line of Control) to grow into a freedom fighter.
He didn’t want to mock the people of the other side for their backwardness, but he couldn’t hold his laughter when he was told: look this is called thermos, in it tea remains warm. You only have samovars, right? Here you’ll find modern gadgets you could only dream of in your home. He realised that the grass was no greener on this other side. For them we are backward and for us it is them, and the rest of the world see all of us as the marginalised, the Others! When he finished his training in Azad (Free) Kashmir, he was sent back to his homeland. After few months of his hiding and playing with the security forces in the villages he got a chance to replace someone of his group who was despatched to Srinagar. One dark night he went to meet his family with his other two companions. The crying of his parents, while looking at him, wasn’t because they had missed him, but for all the trouble they were facing for him. In fact they were happy to see him, but they were against the idea of militancy. They made him understand its negative impacts and shared the troubles they faced from the government and from the troops. But he didn’t want to hear that and he left.
He received a bullet in his left ankle while his two companions got killed in an ambush-attack by Indian soldiers. He somehow managed to reach his parents’ house, they transported him to a doctor, their relative, in a far-off town who treated him well and hid him for months in a sort of hideout in his house. While he was recovering, he accepted the fact that the gun was no solution to his nation’s problems and then with the support and influence of his family he was able to protect his life from both sides, Kashmiri militants and Indian soldiers, but his family’s power couldn’t save him from spending a few years in a district jail.
While in jail he was taught how to read and write Urdu and English. There he got interested in books; also he was able to revive and hone his weaving skills. After his release, his family made him live with them in Srinagar where he cherished the books of his elder brother’s personal library. He was a changed man now. Known all over as a surrendered-militant, he resumed his work and began making carpets. Thinking of himself as a failure in comparison with his brothers made him sacrifice the pleasures of life, like marriage. To achieve something in his life he worked hard to make new designs and set an example in the carpet world. He started making wall-hangings which portrayed the culture and common life of Kashmir. His carpets – he was himself creating new designs of carpets – served as prototypes all over Kashmir. Finally his creative nature sculpted his world, he was able to have his own carpet house where he made carpets in his own models; he had his looms in almost every village of Kashmir. His popularity arose when he was contacted by carpet experts all over the world. His carpets were valuable possessions in carpet showrooms worldwide especially in Delhi, Dubai, London and New York. After all his struggle and experience and his distant dreams, before his untimely death, he was able to create that masterpiece in which he imagined the future of his homeland.