His actual name was not known even to his neighbors, who were calling him ‘Gule Kak’ out of love. Except few buildings, all the constructions in his village were having his hand in making; from a day’s work of repairment in interior of some half-lit room of a house to a complete construction of a two storied building, although, it was hot rumor that his hand-made structures do ask for a hand of an experienced and abled mason; who could give an ultimate final touch to the built structure constructed by Gule Kak.
He was known to elders, youngsters, teenagers and even to restless kids of the village. Elders of the village would love to ask him about his day’s affairs at his job place, and he was equally much delighted to receive an invitation from anybody to narrate his success stories at his craft. His art of narrating his success stories was not an ordinary one like himself.
On every question about his job, he would accept it with a unique smile; pushing slight wrinkles at corners of his aged eyes: somewhat watery and pacific, taking a good time to transfer his smile into an utterance, and then replying, “Hathaz keh wanay“! (what can I say) Would continue again with his patent smile, “Khareedar tchine mananey me bagair“! (Customers are un-willing to construct except me). Then he would continue an over-lengthy narration of his success & achievements at his art of construction, that a person, who had asked the question, would abuse his own intellectuality to invite such an irritating and never-ending one-side conversation.
Most youngsters of his village had seen him getting into cruel hands of time, with each passing year, Gule Kak turning much paler and growing lean day by day, an incremental trend of his growing grey hair and beard. On the other hand, Gule Kak’s eyes were unnoticed witness of most of the youngsters’ crawling days, anxious teenage and youth hood. Gule Kak almost knew every young face of his village and they in turn were equally fond of his humorous talk. They used to tease him out of love every now and then, particularly, on the evenings he got late to arrive home out of his daily routine, they would humorously ask him, ” Kesa Gule Kak, az keh tcheree gomut”? (Hey, Gule kak, why are you late) offering his age old smile, he would say, “Az ouss Khareedars seet hisaab karun” (today, I was settling accounts with customer). Gule Kak’s lean limbs were his faithful companions to reach his appointed destination in morning and arrive back to his home in the evening. Although, a bicycle had arrived in his world of walk-marathon, but it was only a few years back that he would dart more quickly than a cyclist. Now he used to keep his tool-sack in carrier of his bicycle and would enjoy a slow study motion of his cycle with slight pedals from his lean limbs; which had already supported him during his long distance marathon of his youth years.
Even his bicycle was talk of the village, particularly among the youth; who would pass humorous jokes to each other, sitting, in evenings, on roadside of the semi-pucca road leading to the village. They would humorously take oath of Gule Kak’s bicycle to tell a truth.
One evening, when he was returning from his job on his routine time, his eye catched a sight of some gathering at the out skirts of the village on main road. From a distance, it was difficult for him to clearly judge the situation and recognize the persons; as Magrib Azaan had been louded, and dusk had slowly approached. He continued to pedal his bicycle as usual and it kept moving on its usual pace. On reaching the spot, where it seemed a gathering, he was dumb found to see tens of uniformed men holding a youth. He would have continued to pedal his bicycle straight towards his home, but his eyes caught the sight of the face of the youth. He recognized that he was from his own village, although, he was not remembering his name. He at once stopped his bicycle and started to move towards the uniformed persons; who were holding the youth.
Seeing an un-called person approaching towards them, the uniformed persons sounded an alert, asking him, “hands up”.
“Jinab, tuhi tchew galath fahmi” (sir, you are mistaken) replied he, even though, no one among them lend an ear to it, “be tchus Dassil” (I am a mason) he said, again.
“Just raise your hands…raise your hands” one among them told him with scornful voice.
“Search him” said the taller one.
Then, one among them, having his face fully covered with black cloth, leaving only his two sharp eyes uncovered, started to hunt his pockets; right…left…thighs…back…shoulders, and suddenly he gazed on the small sack, which he was holding high in his right hand; made of cheap cloth, having something in it.
” Jinab! Ye tchu saaman thale” (sir, it is tool-sack)
“Saaman”! The search-man uttered a cry, without even touching or opening the sack, he presaged a panic signal to his men, who responded swiftly by grabbing the smallest part of their iron-made offensive-defense weapon; which ultimately unleashes the metal-made small cylindrical-cone-shaped object, to eject with tremendous speed, to lodge into a lean-flesh-bony structure.
” jinab, jinab, ath manz tchi karin, da…dass…dassssill saman “(sir, it contains Masonry tools) said he, with little stammering, while judging the panic among uniformed men.
“Buudaa Chacha hai“! (He’s an old man) said one among them, to rest of them, rather assuring that he was not a threat.
Gule Kak judging decreasing level of their panic asked them about the boy.
“Jinab, amis kehh khata tchu“?(sir, what is his fault)
But, the uniformed men were unable to understand his native tongue and only understanding his hand-language said that he was a stone pelter. He was equally unable to understand theirs language as well, but could comprehend the word “Pather baaz”. He tried his level best to tell them that this young boy had never been a part of ‘Pather baaz’ but failed to make them understand.
Now, sensing the non-communication between him and the uniformed persons he tried to modify his Kashmiri language with Urdu.
“Jinab, ye asul ladka assta hai”(sir, he is a good boy) continuing, ” ye nahi Pather Bazz assta hai”(he is not a stone-pelter)
Now, the uniformed men could comprehend something of his mixed language and said, “Yahan pe ladkon nay pather phankey, iss liyay hum nay isko pakda”(some boys pelted stones here, so we nabbed him). Gule Kak could hardly understand their words but remained asking them in his mixed Kashmiri-Urdu language that he was not a stone pelter.
One among the uniformed person; who had already addressed him with a niche of respect as ‘Buuda Chacha’ came forward towards him, and said,” Suno Chacha, abi to hum issko chod dayngay, lekin dobara nahi”. (Listen uncle, this time we will let him free, but not next time)
“Jinab, mherbani”! ( sir, thank you) said Gule Kak, with a shine in his wrinkled eyes and a unique glow at his face, to see them releasing the young boy.
He caught the young boy by hand and asked him to fallow to the village to his home.
Gule Kak has now crossed sixty and use to work no more, as his two sons are grown adults; elder one offering his services in a Government Department and the younger one undergoing Engineering course in one of the State Engineering Colleges.
Gule Kak is now seen enjoying his old age days mainly at village’s lone shop, still sharing his success stories of his great construction work, although a few of his built structures are still erect in the village, but most of them re-designed and repaired by some well-known hands at masonry.
S. Reyaz Hassan works in the Department of Education.