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In Stranger Land – It is a fictional story about a political family in Kashmir, who are ruling the state since over four decades, and this year, the battle of power is going to be fought among the two rival cousins – Afzal Hamidi and Zakir Hamidi. In early January, there occurs a bomb-blast in Tibetan market, that is blamed upon Zakir, and his political image is jeopardized. His cousin Afzal’s animosity against him rises to another level, as the elections are just round the corner. On the other hand, a Hindu Pundit girl – Kavya Shukla – whose entire family dies in the Tibetan-market blasts, swears to revenge against Zakir. Problems for Zakir are increasing but there are secrets kept by him and his family. Secrets, which are strong enough to help him out of every trouble.

Chapter 1


What if one day you realize that your whole life was based on a beautiful lie? One day, you wake up in the middle of nowhere and find yourself all alone. One day you are told the first truth that you have no family. Whoever you called your family was just an illusion and your life as an orphan has just began? What will you do? What will anyone do in that situation? I have been through that situation and I know how it feels like. I know how it feels to be a part of the lie and suddenly be awaken to a brutal truth.

It was a normal day, just like other ones. Just that there was one special thing about that day – it was my birthday. Not literally, but whatever happened that day, surely gave me another birth!

Whoever said that cars are most comfortable vehicle, hasn’t experienced the first minute inside a car on a freezing winter morning! The steering, gear-shift, everything was cold as ice and I was feared to touch anything at all with my bare warm-hands. I was afraid of freezing them up after spending minutes to warm them since a cold, unbearable bath. Mother says a bath is as important as cleaning the front mirror of the car, you can’t drive it in fog with a clogged up mirror! I don’t know who made this rule of bathing? I have only one emotion for the morning baths and that is – hatred.

My first job-interview was scheduled for today – 02nd January. Who schedules an interview on second day of new-year? Apart from the tiring New-Year’s eve, I had many other plans lined up which I had to side line because of the interview. I ignited my old car, waited for the engine to warm up and drove off. The office was an hour away from my home. But I was glad I was staying in my city, my home, and would get to eat good food, unlike in hostels!

The most important part of staying at home was being closer to my mother. She had been a strong woman throughout her life. Dad’s departure didn’t break her, and she educated me, my sister, and brother and managed the home perfectly for twelve years, which wasn’t an easy job to think of in the first place. I am the elder sister of my young siblings. They look up to me, so I have to be perfect. At least pretend to be perfect if I can’t be perfect!

It’s tough. To bear all the responsibilities in such a young age. You’re not ready, but you’re compelled into it. I had so many dreams, aspirations as a young girl, and I saw them all commit suicide one by one. The red dress worn by a mannequin in the store. The blue curtains that I desperately wanted for my bedroom. Many others died the same fate. The car I have is of my father. Its 15 years old and rusty. The only good thing my father left us, rest everything included debts and unpaid bills, fake bank accounts and unbelievable mental pressure on mother. She almost had a heart-attack when she found out the true side of the man she spent the most prominent part of her life with.

Sometimes it’s impossible to believe others, but when your inner judgemental power begins to give up, you have no other choice but to mask your consciousness with viewpoints of others, and that was what my mother did, since the day she discovered about my father’s illegal affair with a Muslim woman. Not only this, he had a child with her too. Nobody knew who was the woman or the child, but only my mother. It killed her in the worst possible way. She tried to commit suicide by drinking phenyl but luckily we took her to hospital before it was too late. She never talked to me about my old man, ever again!

I stepped in, that day and asked her to be strong. For me, my sister and brother. For us. We were a family after all. Today was a big day for my family too. Their expectations from me were high. Everyone knew I would get the job and all our problems would end. It’s wonderful, how a thin ray of hope can keep you alive for days and months. Without any guarantee of success, you cling on to that hope just because your gut feeling tells you to. My mother, who was just a twelfth pass woman, couldn’t find a job in this world full of competition. She was better off being just a housewife. She made us study hard. I completed my engineering from the local college this year, and I was turning twenty-two next month. All I could ask for as a gift from God was this job.

I reached the office and the receptionist asked me to wait for my turn. There were already a dozen other applicants outside in the waiting hall. Quietly I sat down in one of the chairs and patiently waited for my turn. Three students came out of the door and three were asked to enter. The three that came out, didn’t look happy at all. I had no idea what was going on inside, I was just confident, or should I say desperate? I had no idea what I’d do if I lost this job, it was like my last wish.

The TV in the waiting room was beaming on full volume. The local news channel was showing boring news. Rates of onions were anyways on the hike and the new government was as shaky as the old one. This was pretty normal. Suddenly the telecast stopped and they resumed back with ‘breaking news’. A bomb-blast had occurred near Tibetan market. It was so near to my home that I was terrified to the core.

The receptionist called my name as I dialled my mother’s number from my phone. I was in a dilemma, whether to talk to my mother or go for the interview. Both the things were equally important at that moment. I asked the receptionist if I could give the interview after 5 minutes, she nodded. I had to go right then. Any delay would get my name struck off from the list. I disconnected the phone and went inside. With the thoughts of my family’s health running through my mind, I answered all their questions accurately. The results were to be announced within ten minutes of all the interviews and mine was the last batch.

As I stepped out of the cabin, the first thing I did was call my mother, again. She didn’t pick up. I called the landline number. Nobody picked up. It was strange. It had never happened before that no one would pick up the phone. I tried again. My heart racing and almost on the verge of bursting out of my chest. I tried the phone several times.

The receptionist came out and announced the result. My name wasn’t there in the list. I almost broke down but controlled myself. In a fraction of second, my attention was diverted by the television that showed the scattered and gory bodies of the dead, and as I saw my mother, sister and brother in the heap of dead, I broke down.

The frustration, the agony, the pain, everything came out at once. I sat down on the floor and cried harder than ever. I had no one to go back to. No one to share my sadness of not getting the job. No home. No family. I was alone. All alone.


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