I always had desire talking to Zia who was a young girl from my town. I and Zia went to the same school. She was a popular student. Everybody had challenged competing Zia both in the study and the sports. Zia was my junior, but I always found a hard time to communicate with her. She had her own friend circle. One of Zia’s cousin was my classmate but still was impossible communicating with Zia. She was a brat kid who spent her day making others’ lives miserable. Her mother used to get complains about her every single day. She was already turned teenager, but her habits were like five years old kid. Her body had changed into a young woman, but her mind was still stuck in her childhood. She broke all the rules when she was a child, which continued even she was a young teen. Of course, she never tried to learn certain things which she must do for the sake of her culture, religion, and being a woman. Everybody had forgiven her when she asked sorry for making her innocent face. People loved her despite her destructive behavior. Nobody could cage a free bird so how somebody could cage Zia’s free-spirited soul. It was hard for her to concentrate or sleep if she would not do something silly, which she admitted to her mother. Everybody loved her or had forgiven her mistake not because of her innocent face but also, she was full of qualities such as kindness, honest, working hard, helping everybody. Zia was fearless, and she always helped everybody without knowing any consequences. Her mind and soul were pure without any selfishness. She had her different beliefs and principles. Zia had an inability to recognize the person. She had a false faith that everybody is honest without any selfishness. This was her weakness. She was not interested in politics.
My town was an industrial city which was adjoined with many small towns in the countryside. Once there was a peace in my state; however, it could not save itself from the game of politics. The politic is a strong weapon which could do anything including revolution and of course terrorism. The politicians are the selfish people on this planet so they could do anything which is beneficiary to them and does not matter how much it will cost to the public. The terrorism did hit my state in the early ’80s. Rest of my state was already involved in the fire of militancy except our town. However, it did not take long when we had started to see some incidents. The life was going smoothly until the terror of militancy had knocked our door. The terrorism had made its roots so strong because of the support of locals. The local police were failed to control the situation, so the central govt had sent the military. It meant a special force, intelligence bureau, and of course, the army. The entire town was turned into a was looking an army barracks. The general population was confused to decide which side they were. A young military officer is known as Abdulla alias AK alias Abu also came along with the others. One early morning people woke up the loud noises of a heavy shooting between the forces and militants. Zia was found emotionless drenched with blood holding Abu’s head in her lap. Afterward, nobody had seen Zia. There were many rumors but no news of Zia.
Finally, after 10 years, the blood had stopped coloring the soil of our land. Everybody had forgotten about Zia and Abu. Two decades later, I have met Zia suddenly on the other side of the world at the international airport where she was waiting for her connected flight. Zia was not changed a lot, but her personality has changed significantly. The curiosity came again into my mind to ask what was happened to her, and where is the warrior who once saved many lives and protected many women. Where is that hero who once helped teens to stay away from the militancy? First, she refused but then she agreed to share some part of her and Abu’s life.
Abu was a soldier and warrior for others, but he was Zia’s love, best friend, and of course her life. Everybody said he was Zia’s puppy love, but Zia admitted he was her soul. The love of immature calls puppy love which do not survive a long time. She refused to admit their love was immature. If it was immature why he still lives inside of me after two decades. Nothing could apart them including his death. No religions, no culture, no language, and no traditions could come among them. A strange love story had started in the suburb area of the country, which is never ended. The love story could not end because it was hard for Zia to find Abu in somebody else. This is a story of two soul mates. One is alive and others had sacrificed his soul for his beloved country. Zia said, “I never get sad because I am proud of my warrior. I am proud he died for his country”. She proudly misses him. Zia said, “I could feel his presence around me. I can touch his soul. I can talk to his soul. Abu often comes in my dream when I am stressful or feels alone. It could be my imagination, but I know he is here somewhere around me”. Without hope and support some time it becomes hard to survive especially for a woman. Zia never becomes weak because she knows how to change her weakness into a strong weapon. Abu had taught her many things, and he had taught her how to survive. After his death, Zia hid herself, and never talked to anybody. It took me a while to open her feelings. After reading this story who knew Abu, will get shocked that a rude and full of pride Abu could love somebody. Nobody had seen him smile. Nobody had seen him talking unnecessarily. Zia was the opposite copy of him. Zia was jovial who love talking, and nobody could stop her when she started to talk. Zia was very hyperactive but only Abu know how to control her and how to shut her mouth in few seconds. It took Abu more than a year to express his feelings. She did not have to express her feeling because Abu already knew it. He used to read her mind and brain.
Zia said, “I saw him first time on my way back to school. The army had camped on my farmhouse. I yelled at him and asked multi-millions of questions about why the camp was installed on my favorite spot, he just looked at me and left without saying a word”. Every day was in the news how many civilians, troopers, and militants were killed. Nothing else was in the news except the terrorism. Like many other people, she could not understand which side she was or should be. The town was burning in the fire of terrorism. Her entire family was also divided too. Only she and her father could not understand where they should have a stand in this war. Zia said, “Did I have to support the terrorist who was claiming to fight or killing for the right of their religion? No religion teaches to kill innocent people. Did I have to support the Indian forces that were losing their lives to serve the country? Every day I used to go to my temple. Every day at school, I also saluted my national flag and recited a national anthem. My mind could not understand what was going on. I was confused who I should have support: religion Vs country. Therefore, I just thought to pay attention to my sports and study. My parents advised me not to converse with either the forces or the militants. That was my mother’s orders, so I had no options to disobey those orders”.
Zia further added, “I used to go to the school riding my bike, but I could ride my motorcycle when I had to go to a sports club which was 10 miles away from my home. As you know the people of my town was busy talking about the current situation of militancy, but I was busy exploring nature. I continued with my daily routine. Every evening, I liked going to my farmhouse and I enjoyed making the braids of corn’s hair. I loved jumping back and forth on the banks of the irrigation canal. I enjoyed swimming in the irrigation canal. Every single day I used to walk around my farmhouse. After dinner, I used to complete my school assignment”. Zia said, “That was my daily routine until Abu came to the town. None of my friends were living in my neighborhood. Most of my friends were Hindu who lived to the downtown of the city for safety. Since terrorism was started, I could see my friends at school time only. There was no advanced level of communication at that time so I could chat with her friends. Therefore, after school, my farmhouse was my only best friend. On my way to home, there was a big berry tree. The tree was full of berries, but I never could reach the berries. Sometimes I had climbed the tree to eat the delicious berries. How many times I got cut on my arms and legs when climbed that tree. My mother used to get upset when she used to see abrasions on my legs and arms. Nobody could stop me because I was so stubborn and frisky. The time was not waiting for either of us. However, both time and terrorism did not impact on my life. I was continued maintaining my daily routine. I never talked to the strangers except for one stranger who stood in the middle of the road and interrupted my routine. Nope, He had not only interrupted my routine that day, but he also interrupted my entire life.
Zia’s eyes did show some signs of happiness and some sadness when she told about this. Her eyes were conveying the mixed message of sadness and happiness. You could feel both loves and pain her eyes.
Zia continues, “The Stanger’s name was Abu who becomes the love of my life later. I read his name written on his uniform. He was trying to get the information about a jeep that suddenly U-turn. He was so rude to me. Abu appeared very emotionless to me. I was so scared, so I had started to cry loudly. I was shivering with the fear. I thought my life will be ending now. Abu had asked many questions without showing any kindness. My tears were dripping down on my cheeks. But his tone and attitude both did not change. A local policeman told Abu that he knew my parents. He allowed me to go home after knowing about my family. How dare he stopped me and yelled at me. I was afraid my parents would not let me go if they knew what was happened, so I did not share with them. I thought of teaching him a lesson, so I talked to my younger cousin. My cousin always was my partner in the crime.
Next day both of us rode the bike directly into Abu’s camp. I just parked my bike inside his camp. Within seconds, we were arrested. Abu mumbled something in his mouth as he took off my helmet. My uncle was summoned to the army office. He handed me and my cousin to my uncle. I remember what he said when I tried to leave, “You are a woman to behave like a woman”. My uncle tried his best to clarify the kids will not do this mistake again. The list of rules of regulation was waiting for me as I arrived home. This was my 3rd date with my Abu.
Zia said, “Abu was a six feet tall young man who just joined the army. His first posting was in my town. He took his steps from his home to all the way to my hometown. My karma or kismet was waiting for him. One soul has left the home to meet the other half of the soul. Abu was the owner of his own unique personality. He did not like talking too much. He did not like laughing too much. He believed in the action than words. You can see the anger in his eyes. Abu looks very handsome with his mustache, but his personality impressed me more. His emotion was hard to predict. His mission was only to wipe out the militancy. The mission of his work was depended on his actions, not on his words. Abu did not believe in second chance. His belief was different: Justice on the spot, no arrest, no warrant, and no court. He did not have any facial expression at all. I used to think what was wrong with this man. However, this hardcore man did have some soft corner in his heart. I was the only who met his hidden soft corner. He used to sleep in his uniform and AK 47 gun. I thought somebody might unknowingly have given him a similar name as a dangerous weapon. It was just co-incidence AK and AK 47 rifle. I never thought this man would be the man of my life. I did not know this stranger would attach to my soul permanently, I never thought he would leave the great impression on life otherwise I had chosen to stay away from him”.
Zia smiled when she said, “Abu was a Muslim who would never forget his prayer time. He never touched alcohol. He never smoked. It did not matter if it rains, cold, and hot but he never forgot his prayer time. I was shocked when I saw him performing his prayer. I was just kept looking at him quietly. Later, his prayer became so fascinated to me which I never wanted to miss. This was the only time when I could see his face. Otherwise, I did not have the courage to look at him directly. Yes, he was a stubborn and very rude officer. His goal was completing his mission: The end of militancy and then proceed to the next mission. Because of his passion for his job, he had created more enemies than friends. I do not care what other people thought about him, but he was my hero. He was the one who changed my life dramatically. He left so great impression on my soul. I will never forget him even he had long gone. I am waiting for him and I know he will come for me. His soul will come through somebody else. Except for my father, Abu was the only man in my life who I had respect for. Abu was the main reason I had given up my tomboy personality. I still remember when I went to his camp wearing jeans and shirt. I just wanted him to feel jealousy. I always found some reason to fight with him. I did not know that making him jealous and fighting with him, was my love for him. Abu once commented on me, “You are a girl so act, behave, and dress up like a girl”.
Zia said, “It was the month of Ramadan. Abu had cooked some eggs especially for me. He also got some bangles and traditional dress for me. He was not very talkative. He was not the person who would keep announcing his love. He was the man who would say, “feel it”. He was also a caring person but would not tell you. He had all those qualities that any woman would like to have in her man. I used to think I was the luckiest woman on the earth. He came in my life for a short time but left the great impression forever. His job and country were his priority. He never hesitated to tell me that she was number two in his life. He had given his priority to his country. At the camp, nobody knew much about Abu except he was an intelligent and brave officer. I got curiosity knowing about him. It was not very easy to know about him. Day by day I was getting so close to him which I did not notice myself either. I knew only how much closer to him when he left for a few days to visit his mother. I was so sad and restless. I was worried about him. I had felt some strange sadness, restless, and loneliness. I did not know what I was missing in my life. I felt some fear inside of me. I felt some pain inside of me. I did not know that I was in love with him. One day, he appeared outside of my sports club. He was not in his uniform. He had worn a black shirt with blue jeans. He was in totally different attire. He was without his gun. He did not have anybody with him. I could not realize myself when I ran toward him. I hugged him and started to cry. I was not quite sure why I cried.
That Day he told me about his personal life. His father died fighting for his country in 1971 when Abu was a couple of years old. His mother worked hard to raise him. His mother had seen many up and down while raising him. However, she just wanted to see her son following her husband’s carrier. Yes, Abu had completed desires of his mother and had joined the army. He was from middle-class family. I kept hitting on his chest and kept asking why he left without saying any word. He just looked at me. He appeared very confused. I felt Abu was hiding something from me. Later, I found out he was hiding his feeling and love. He did not want to hurt me. I was so immature and never thought with my brain. I was very emotional. However, Abu was totally different from me. He was thinking about the future while I was stuck in the present. What would be his future with me? There were lots of differences between him and such as religion, caste, family status, and age. But I never care about it. I just wanted to be with Abu all the time.
Zia further added, “Abu never used to get scared. Many times, he told me death comes only once in the human life, then why we should scare of it. That time he might do not know what I would do if something happened to him. He did not realize how hard would be. I would live to die every day without him. I tried expressing my fear and requested him to be very careful. He was stubborn. He did not have a habit of taking orders from anybody, so how he could listen to me. He used to shut my mouth when I tried to express my fear. How many times he was got attacked, but he was the warrior who never scared. Once he got ambushed when I was with him. He told me to run away, but I was just hugging his back and kept crying and praying at the same time. How I could leave him alone in that critical situation. The first time I had seen fire and anger in his eyes. This was the first time I had doubt if he was a human or a machine. I feared him. He was survived in that incident. He was so angry at me for disobeying his order. He was not ready to listen that I could not leave him fighting alone. He always over-protected me.
Abu loved his country. His country was his first love and I was the second. He was a true Muslim too. He never violated or disrespected me. He always told me to keep some distance from him. I was young and innocent, but he was a mature man. He never used to let me come close to him, I know now why he always wanted to keep distance.
How long a fire could hide in the forest, it eventually will come out. The same thing had happened to Zia’s love story. It did not take a long time when Zia’s parents found their relationship. Zia said, “Oh gosh! It became so big deal. It had become a matter of religion and racism. It had become a matter of reputation and tradition. It had become the war that Abu and I could have never won. I was imprisoned in my own home. I was not allowed to go outside the house alone. I was not allowed to take any phone calls. I was only allowed to breathe. The entire family was against my relationship with Abu except for my father. Where is that family gone now? Where is the reputation gone?”.
There was no tear in Zia’s eye when she told me about that dark early morning which had taken Abu from her. Zia said, “I woke with the loud noise of firearms. I knew what was going on. My mother was gone to the temple. I begged my father let me go. My father had opened my door from outside and told me to run a kid before anybody else would know. I ran toward the railway track where the heavy firing was continuing. My soul was already dead before I reached my destination. I held my Abu’s head in my lap. I tried cleaning his face with my hands. He did not yell at me why I came here. He was so quiet. His face looked pain-free. Instead of henna on my hands, there was Abu’s blood. I am so proud of him. He did not run out of his post. He fought back until he could”.
Zia added, “The karma took my Abu away, but my family took everything else away from me such my name, country, identity, and of course my life. You can buy everything with money, but nobody could buy my happiness. It was too late when my family had realized it. They were so afraid to say even sorry. I was sent to the western country with the new identity. I did not ask any question why I was shipped outside of the country now. I just picked my bag and left my home without saying a Good Bye or any single word. I live here now as she looked around. Abu has given me a unique strength to live”.
I saw Zia’s eyes were full of the tears of sadness and happiness. I have noticed proud in Zia’s eyes. Zia has succeeded in her life, but one corner of her life is still empty. Zia said he is still my best friend even after his death. Abu was gone forever but Zia still alive to perform both his and her responsibilities. Zia wishes to start where Abu was left.
Salute to Zia’s Warrior