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A tale of mentally challenged

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     She faced wrath of the people for the sin she never committed.


I have mostly grown up in the once capital city of Srinagar.Its neighbourhood was a mix of parochial , superzips , elite class and lower middle class families . In short, it was a nice and small neighbourhood .

There was a mentally challenged young lady who would roam around in rags and scare children of my age in the neighbourhood. She was named as Mazzi(mentally challenged). We as children would run away just at the sight of her. However, the  few generous and God fearing people would offer her food on a regular basis .She would eat and then disappear.

I was fond of the small shops embedded in the narrow lanes of my area ,especially because these shops would sell all the scrumptious food stuff. Different varieties of candies beautifully packed on the side slings of the small shops ,big sacks of dry fruit like dates,apricots ,Samarkand,peanuts,even spices and condiments,would attract anybody’s attention.A special aroma of these lanes was a kind of landmark to me,whenever I would stray from.

It was beautiful Sunday morning.My favourite hang out place wore a deserted look as most of the shops would remain closed on Sundays.I was rambling through the narrow lanes till I heard  few sobs, being unaware of the things I stepped in one of the narrow lanes .All of a sudden, I saw Mazzi being dragged by few gentlefolk uncles of my neighbourhood . Before, I could understand anything they pushed her to the ground, just near to the beautiful candy shops,slapped her,put a cloth in her mouth. I got frightened and took to my heals to reach my home as soon as possible. Even as  I was asked about the cause of being in fear, I didn’t disclose that Mazzi was being beaten to the pulp.For many days, I avoided to move out of my home and that’s what surprised my parents. The horrible scene would continuously haunt me for many days till I lost it to my other childhood plays.

Mazzi was not now visible in lanes and bylanes. As time passed, she was completely out of my mind till I learnt a story about her plight. It was shocking to listen that Mazzi  had got pregnant after the episode which I had witnessed in my childhood when she was beaten by a few of our neighborhood uncles. After the incident, she had shifted to some other locality where the children would throw stones at her and was most of the times denied any food. She was called a witch, a harlot and referred as bad omen very oftenly.The poor lady was completely in  oblivion,unaware of the plots being woven around her.

Basically, human society has a long history of treating people with mental illness and the mentally challenged as inferior.  After a spell of so many years, I came across an acquaintance who narrated the story of plight of Mazzi. He claimed himself a witness to this horrible incident. As he was narrating the incident, I could easily match the incident with the same mentally challenged woman whom we used to call Mazzi in our childhood. I learned from the acquaintance that the influential, whom I used to call uncles were involved in humiliating the poor lady’s (Mazzi’s) modesty. These uncles were considered the honorable  members of the society. “I was helpless to pull Mazzi out of the trouble and this still haunts my consciousness why I kept watching the incident as a silent spectator,” said the person.

All that incident that happened in my childhood and when I saw the uncles beating Mazzi reverberated in my mind. It was very painful to collect these very bad memories.

But I got a quick relief from sadness when I was told that those involved in the crime had to face Karma.

What goes around comes around or the law of cause and effect,works.This  is called karma . Depending on one’s actions ,one will reap the fruits of those actions sooner or later Fruits can also be reaped in a collective manner if a group of people together perform a certain activity .This is what exactly had happened in the case of Mazzi.

The four uncles who had collectively performed the heinous crime had to face the karma. Two of the uncles were diagnosed with a deadly disease –cancer and died in a pathetic state in a hospital. The other two met with a terrible  motor accident ,and died on the spot .Their families are struggling with poverty  and hardly make both ends meet.

However, it’s still painful to recollect the ordeal of the lady who could not speak for herself, but face the wrath of the people for the sin she never committed.


(The author is Associate Editor at INS and can be mailed at


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