On my recent visit to Azad Kashmir, I imagined that the people there lived a peaceful life.
What a feeling would it be to wake up to such scenic visuals every day, a wonderful life it looked.
While on the hike, I saw a man carrying a huge bulk of lumber on his back.
“How can he carry that weight on his back,” I exclaimed rather loudly.
“It is lighter than the weight of my responsibilities,” he remarked with grief.
I was stunned for a moment; men here do not usually talk directly to foreign women. I started a conversation with him. He lived in the Kail village, with his wife and two kids.
The elder one, a girl was in eighth grade and the boy in the third, both of them beautiful Kashmiri kids.
So what was the burden? What worried him?
“My children watch the TV, listen to the radio, they feel trapped by the poverty and simplicity of our town,” he expressed, “My daughter is a very obedient girl, but I see her singing and dancing with her friends. I know she wants more with her life. A life maybe I cannot give her or permit her for.”
“My son too wishes to fly in the sky. Just like that hero in blue and red clothes. He aspires to be a pilot,” he smiles with pride, “I do not tell them to stop dreaming but I cannot tell them the truth also.”
“The burden of my thoughts makes it easier to carry this weight every day, dear daughter,” he puts the lumber down and gets back to work.
Photography: ShahZaib Wahlah (Lahore)
Literature: Annam Lodhi (Karachi)