It was early morning when the wailing from neighbouring women woke me up before my alarm clock could wail. I rubbed my sleepy eyes to check my neighbourhood for the untimely unrest. People, mostly old, were jostling outside my neighbour's house. "Taaje boebe hai Moeyi bechaer ( Poor taj-e-boaba has expired) , " heralded my mother to my curious ears. Taj-e-boeba, an amicable old woman in my neighbourhood, was 90.
Setting aside the many layers of warm blankets and the heavy quilt under which I was buried, I got up from my cozy bed and performed wazu, Islamic ablution, to prepare myself for the namaz-e-jinaaza (special congregational prayers for the deceased). I trotted down to the fateful house to find more people swarming the mourning house. Women were wailing in kashmiri tones as if orchestrated by a connecting rhythm. There was some storytelling in their mournings. "Azaad gai bechaer( she got relieved at last) ," opined one cracking voice from the wailing house. "Kaensi theaven ne minath ( she left with no trouble to anyone ) , " joined another wailing voice, this time from an old man hiding his grey head inside his warm pheran against the cold and the grief. Similar statements and opinions kept airing for some more time, mixing the cold air with strange voices of wailing, murmuring and howling. Meanwhile more people kept pouring in as the news spread across the neighbourhood.
I kept standing near the main gate, watching the mourners and their sympathisers. Three hours passed as such but there was no sign of nimaaz-e-jinaaza. It seemed the deceased had to wait for more people to come and see her face one last time before the earthy soil could absorb her body. It was time to go for another round of ablution and come back afresh.
Sometime later, all the relatives, neighbours, well wishes, office colleagues, formal friends and others; Everyone assembled in the small house that now looked swelling. It never looked that the modest house would accommodate such a humongous crowd. Every possible space, every corner, every staircase was occupied. Interestingly a cavalcade of waza, Kashmiri cook, also arrived at the spot, funnily enough, much prior to the arrival of the local imaam heading the nimaaz-e-jinaza. After all someone has to feed the family of the deceased and the others for sometime.
After all the arrangement were done, the faithful men walked into an open ground to join the nimaz-e-jinaaza. Women on the other hand kept beating their chest while trying their best to get the lasting glimpses of the dear boaba. Meanwhile the army of the waza started arranging their team and respective tools of cauldrons and ladles. While the men prayed for the deceased, the women folk got more busy in gabbing and badmouthing as such subsiding the wailing cries remarkably.
As the Jinaza finished, the huge rows of people disbanded into parting ways. Some people joined back the mourners while few others, the curious cases, joined the waza team to check the salt and pepper of each delicacy being cooked while sipping down the complimentary noon chai (Kashmiri salt tea).
The whole day, noon chai kept brewing in the lifesized somavar. People kept coming and going, marking their formal attendance. The rush of the visitors and the bam of their vehicles made the street look busy that otherwise wears a deserted look. Later, as I signed off my day and laid down on my cozy bed, taj-e-boaba came to my dream and whispered, "suin kyah oosukh rounmut?( what was there in the meals?)."
P.S. This is truly a fictional work of author's imaginations. Any kind of resemblance would merely be a candid coincidence.