Ammi Jaan’s gold Karas …By Rashmi Talwar/ Rising Kashmir

Real Life Story

 

Ammi Jaan’s gold Karas 


snapshot Ammi jaan gold karas

 

Rashmi Talwar

Pakistan’s capital city Islamabad is not too hot or stuffy. Climate that could best be described as Khosh yivun or modur – as sweet in Kashmiri. Zarka Sakina’s flushed pallor is not because of temperate weather, nor her cheeks reddish due to her Kashmiri origin.

Zarka, is indeed glowing, her namesake light-eyes excited. Thrilled, with the dream of Srinagar- her hometown in India, and looking forward, to yellow yolked narcissus, Tulips and Roses and Harud’s reddish Chinars, in just a few months.

 

Her delight hardly wanes, as her mother-in law admonishes- “Slow down”! She fondly hears it as war war pakh.

This time she may be counted as one, but will not be alone. She’ll be carrying an adorable package- a seven-month old baby in her.  Radiant at the thought of her new born drinking the pure waters of ‘Chashme Shahi’, her stride turns sprightly.

She dreams of her maalyunn or maternal home, where her child will smell the first scents of Zabarwan Mountains, instead of Margalla Hills, of Islamabad. August’s genteel rain-soaked air carrying the burnt leaves dry-stem fragrances from Wazwan cooking of summer weddings.

Zarka, married last year in August, soon announced her pregnancy. Doctors advised, the seventh month, for safest travel. On May 8, her worried engineer husband accompanied her to Lahore, for the cross country marathon via Wagah-Attari Indo-Pak border of Amritsar.

On a whim, her fond mother-in-law, held her delicate wrists, pushed four heirloom gold Karas on her bare wrists and kissed her hands, saying ‘Maike ghar khali haath jayegi?’ and it rings like– “Maalyunn gatchi khi tchaerrivie naa’riev?”

She smiles, but is uncomfortable with the heavy gold and pushes them in the zipped outer pocket of her handbag as soon as she leaves Islamabad.

Zarka alights from Punj-Aab Amritsar-Lahore bus in Attari. Her thrilled demeanor literally falls apart as the gold Karas in her handbag show up in the X-Ray. Zarka pleads, ‘They are personal ornaments’. Shows them wedding pictures, wearing Karas, in her mobile phone. But they refuse, handing Zarka a receipt that permits her to collect the detained Karas herself, or with an authority letter and original receipt by someone within a month of detention. They place value of jewels at more than three Lakh Indian rupees.

Abrar Hussain, Zarka’s father waiting at Attari wonders about India-Pak border formalities. He arrived from Srinagar to welcome his daughter’s  Phirri or first round, after marriage.  Zarka runs into his arms on spotting him, breaking down, telling him about the detention of Ammi Jaan’s gold Karas. It pinches the father. Zarka’s mom-in-law is family, but this could be hard.

Holding the original receipt from Abrar, and authority letters flown in from Srinagar, I wonder if all Punjabis are fools. Of course a sure-shot example was actually me. ‘We often Burr-aaaaah ! Gal hee koi nahi’ – No Prablem Jee.. And jump!

Gathering some of my leftover faculties, I contact a number of exporters of Indo-Pak trade. One advised – “Pay the custom’s duty and reclaim Karas. Hor ki, Saas toh kut puanni hai!” (Or want her mom-in-law to beat her) Another -“Customs, Na ! Na ! They’ll never give back.” One stuck on issue of Kashmir – “Now they will make this like another missile. Maybe the Kashmiri girl was actually bringing the gold for selling, who knows!”

It’s already ten days, with 20 left for expiry of reclaim. I desperately wrack my slumberous grey cells and look once more over the phone list. A last call, I think, and put my fingers into simple Yog asanas. Aashish Raina, a senior custom’s officer picks the call, listens to my rant and asks about Zarka. I tell him they are Kashmiris. ‘Do you have the receipt?’ ‘Yes!’, ‘Wats App me the receipt’! He replies. Calls back; ‘No! Goods have not been detained illegally’, dashing my hopes of a somewhat meek handover, after the presumed ‘illegal’ act was flashed in the media. ‘The gold Karas were found in luggage, if she had been wearing them, they wouldn’t have posed a problem,” he assures.

“We have three choices: First, pay customs duty; second, file a case against the detention; third, find a Pakistani going back and willing to reclaim goods and take with him to Pakistan”. ‘What?’ There is only a month’s for expiry of receipt ! Since Zarka has come for child birth and has a few months to go before the B-Day, no one from her husband’s side in Pakistan is expected to crossover to India for next three months. I plead with Aashish for a fourth option using his good offices to reason with his colleagues. He declines, politely.

Suddenly, a call from a friend from USA, says she is scheduled to go to Lahore from Amritsar for some research work. We pin our divine hopes on her, but she is scheduled a few days later than the deadline.

Aashish suggests for placing a request for an extension period of 6-months to reclaim Karas and advices to use the time to arrange, a person, to carry forward the last option.

Abrar meantime also keeps his eye for anyone likely to cross to Pakistan.

Aashish guides me to talk to Commissioner Customs. It takes me 10-days to see him since he’s out of station. Time, meanwhile is running out. Eventually, Additional commissioner Nitin Saini approves the request and immediately asks to fax application for extension, from Srinagar, without delay.

Having the extension, I approach some exporters but they decline to claim ‘somebody’s’ goods.

Providence intervened and Abrar finds a friend on his way back to Pakistan and we keep my USA friend as a standby for Plan -B.   The Additional Commissioner and AC Amanjit Singh are both surprised that soon after filing for extension, we could arrange for reclaim so swiftly. Anjum Mahmud Mian and his wife Misbah call from Pakistan announcing-“Ammi Jaan de Soney de karreyan ne sarhadaan parr kar laiyaan ne (Ammi’s Gold Karas have crossed the borders)!” The news draws euphoria, relief, jubilance and a million thanks and blessings for the pool of humanity that conspired to get the Karas across the India and Pakistan’s Radcliff Line.

Aashish Raina, loves to assist fellow Kashmiris with little thought about their faith. He smells the scent of his Kashmir from them. He brushes aside my thanks. “What is your interest in Kashmir?” he teases me. “Kashmir is my childhood”, I answer for the hundredth time. He obviously misses the spiritual import of a neighbor’s envy. And I hide behind a sheepish smile, content in the thought –‘A daughter shall not regret this loss throughout life, for the mere reason, that no one tried to bail out her Ammi Jaan’s Gold Karas’.

Zarka’s baby is due in August 2015

 

The Author can be reached at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR

 

 

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46 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mintoo Mand on August 18, 2015 at 8:00 PM

    Loved reading…went thru different emotions.

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  2. Posted by Sangeeta Savlani on August 18, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    Beautifully written

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  3. Posted by Vanu Ahuja on August 18, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    Beautifully written rashmi….kudos!!!

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  4. Posted by Mamta Sen on August 18, 2015 at 7:57 PM

    Wonderful story. So true for Indian & Pakistan culture

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  5. Posted by Autar K Munshi on August 18, 2015 at 7:56 PM

    Reshmi very appreciative. The story if true is full of emotions and the good offices u have used to save Ammi Jaans gold bangles is fine but I personally think the conclusion in your touchy article is missing. Are rules and regulations deficient enough and require some amendments in such cases as a common man like me would not enjoy approach like u in getting bangles back. What u want to convey apart from emotional touch should have been there. It is my personal view as there is no room for emotions in law and every common man does not enjoy influence to recover the seized article.

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  6. Posted by Poonam Rampal on August 18, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    Beautifully written straight from the heart

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  7. Posted by Geeta Mehta on August 18, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    very touching…………great RASHMI.

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  8. Posted by Suneeta Seth on August 18, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Very touching and well written Rashmi

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  9. Posted by Amandeep Ahluwalia Talwar on August 18, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    Beautifully written piece mom as always pure genius. And now the good news of the little one arriving is the cherry on the cake…

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  10. Posted by Vee Kay Sharma on August 18, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    God bless new baby and his mother.
    God bless you also for service to the mankind.

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  11. Posted by joytsna on July 8, 2015 at 5:40 PM

    very bad english and badly written

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  12. For all who read “Ammi Jaan’s Gold Karas’ … ZARKA DELIVERED A BABY BOY THIS MORNING…. !! Her father Abrar Hussain informs me . Baby arrived a lil hasty 🙂 but is fine and healthy otherwise .. Many Congragulations to Zarka and her family and the father’s family for this bundle of joy

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  13. Posted by Autar Mota on July 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    Excellently laced with subcontinental flavor.

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  14. Posted by Vee Kay Sharma on July 3, 2015 at 7:37 PM

    Rashmi
    What you have narrated in your finely written piece about bureaucracy is classic example of RED TAPE in our country.
    Thanks for undefined exposure.

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on July 3, 2015 at 7:38 PM

      Vee Kay Sharma- Caught it a lil late …Nways ! Bingo !!

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      • Posted by Vee Kay Sharma on July 3, 2015 at 7:51 PM

        Dear it is not late, matter of roaming around among them daily and observing their way of working has become a routine, it does not look different.
        However, were the officers at the Custom clearance a bit HUMAN they would have told the lady to wear these Bangles before walking in the Custom Centre.
        Besides that according to Custom Rules a declaration is sufficient unless the articles are brand new.
        But then who dare tame the bureaucracy?

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  15. Posted by Sualeh Keen on July 3, 2015 at 7:34 PM

    🙂 Good Rashmi

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  16. Posted by Amin Bhat on July 3, 2015 at 7:33 PM

    Very artistically presented piece.

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  17. Posted by Krishan Murari on July 3, 2015 at 7:25 PM

    Remarkeable achievement in this bureaucratic world of Babus and bureaucrats. Well done. Hearty congrats!

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on July 3, 2015 at 7:29 PM

      Krishan Murari– Perhaps u have an inkling of how hard it is to deal with Bureaucrats or elected Babus ..Thanks for the read, Appreciate.

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  18. Posted by Sadaf Munshi on July 3, 2015 at 7:23 PM

    Arrey waah! Yeh hui na baat. main bhi soch rahi thi why Abrar kept asking asking me when I was going to Pakistan grin emoticon….Jai Ho, Rashmi Talwar! Well-written 🙂

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on July 3, 2015 at 7:23 PM

      Sadaf Munshi- smile emoticon .. mystery solved .! .thanks for liking it. It was published the day you arrived in #Amritsar

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  19. Posted by Kaul Ravinder on July 3, 2015 at 7:17 PM

    This is an amazing article. It has both substance and style. And the piece de resistance is the last sentence. Bravo….

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on July 3, 2015 at 7:22 PM

      En conclusion était la pensée qui a couru tout au long de l’histoire (in conclusion was the thought that ran throughout the story )..U got It !!

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  20. Posted by Puja Malla Kachroo on July 3, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    Nice read …beautifully expressed..Rashmi. Do post about Zarkas baby as well and convey our best wishes to them…..:)

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  21. Posted by Rashmi Talwar on July 3, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    Thank u Harry … truely the exhale was missing !!

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  22. Posted by Harry Rakhraj on July 3, 2015 at 7:13 PM

    An emotion laden story beautifully narrated. Takes you right into Zarka’s heart as she struggles mentally. When relief comes, the reader also exhales! Great piece, Rashmi.

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  23. Posted by Ashesh Kumar Raina on July 3, 2015 at 7:12 PM

    Thnx Rashmi Talwar ji.

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  24. Posted by Riffat Bhatt on July 3, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    Just Beautiful full of facts true short story.. cheers Rashmi Talwar

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  25. Posted by Vee Kay Sharma on July 3, 2015 at 6:28 PM

    Nicely summed up

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  26. Posted by Mir Tasaduq on July 3, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    It is a small world.

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  27. Thank you dear Muhammed Yusuf Ji … u yourself are a good writer ..cheers !

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  28. Nice write up. Many Kashmiri words used by a Punjabi writer. You have to rise high but as you wrote in Kashmiri “war war”. Rashmi you are great. Write more and regular on Kashmir

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