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Spirits of Shah Alam Camp

Spirits visit the Shah Alam camp at night to see and meet their children. They affectionately fondle their orphaned children, gazing into their blank eyes, say something. They embrace their children. Their heart-rending cries before being burnt alive echo in the calm and quiet atmosphere.

When the entire camp is asleep, children are awake because they are eager to see their mothers, to have meals with their fathers. How are you, Siraj? The spirit of his father asked affectionately.

How are you, Ammi?
His mother looked happy and said. ‘Siraj dear, now I am a spirit. Now no one can burn me. ’
‘Ammi, can I also be like you?’

The spirit of a worried and nervous woman reached the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night who was searching his child. Her child was neither in this world nor in the camp. The heart of the child’s mother was extremely heavy. The spirits of other women also started searching the child along with her. All of them saw every nook and corner of the camp. They went in the locality also where they were living and where all houses were burning. Since they were spirits, they entered the burning houses, searched every nook and corner of the house but the child was no where to be found.

Ultimately the spirits of all those women went to the rioters who were making petrol bombs, cleaning their guns and sharpening their knives and swords for the next days operations. When the child’s mother asked them about her son, they started laughing and said ‘You mad woman, when we burn ten, twenty people in one go, who is bothered to know the whereabouts of one child? May be lying somewhere in the heaps of ashes.’

The mother said ‘No, no. I have seen everywhere. He is no where to be found.’

Then one of the rioters said ‘May be she is the mother of the child whom we had pierced by the trishul and left him hanging.

Spirits come to the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. They bring food, water, medicines etc for their children from heaven and give these to them. That’s why no child in Shah Alam Camp is hungry or sick. That is also the reason why this camp has become so famous and it is known far and wide among the dead. Once, when a great leader from Delhi went on tour to Shah Alam Camp, he was very happy and said ‘This is very nice place. All Muslim children of the country should be sent here’.

Spirits visit the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. They spend the whole night along with the children. They look after them, talk to them and think about their future.
‘Siraj, you now go home’, Siraj’s mother said to him.
‘Home?’ He was terrified. His face turned pale because the fear of death haunted his mind.
‘Yes,’ said his mother. ‘How long you are going to live here? I will come to you daily at night’.
‘No, I will not go there, never, where I saw smoke, fire, cries and all that.’ Ammi, I will live with you and Abbu.
‘But how can you live with us?’
‘My brother and sisters live with you. So why can’t I ?’.
‘They were also burnt along with us.’
‘Oh…then …then I will go to my home, Ammi’.

The spirit of a child comes to Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. The child looks bright, like a glowworm. He walks here and there in the camp, runs and jumps, indulges in pranks, He does not like but speaks clearly. He sometimes clings with the clothes of his mother and sometimes holds the fingers of his father.

Contrary to other children of the camp, this child looks always very happy.
‘Why are you so happy, my child?’
‘Don’t you know…every body knows this.’
What?
‘That I am the proof… proof of bravery and chivalry’. 
‘Proof of whose chivalry?’
‘Of those who had cut open my mother’s stomach, taken me out and cut me into two.’

Spirits visit the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. Once the spirit of a child and mother comes there. The child was very happy surprised to see it.

‘Mother, why are you so happy today?’
‘Siraj, today I met your grand father in the heaven. He introduced me to his father, to his grand father to his great grand father… to his great great grand father…. ’

His mother appeared to be extremely happy and her happiness seemed me to have no bounds.
‘Siraj, your great great great grand father was a Hindu. Do you understand? Tell this to every one’.

Spirits come to the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. Once the spirit of a sister came there who was searching her brother. After a long search she found her brother who was sitting on the stairs. The spirit of the sister was very happy. She immediately reached there and said to him ‘Bhaiya!’

But the brother ignored her as if he heared nothing. And remained sitting like a statue.
She again said ‘Listen, Bhaiya’
Again the brother did not hear, nor he looked at her.
‘Why are you not listening to me, Bhaiya?’ she asked loudly.

The brother’s face turned red like fire. His eyes started spitting fire. He rushed towards his sister and started beating her mercilessly. People gathered all around. Some one asked the girl as to what did she say to him which inflamed him and started beating her.

The sister said ‘I had simply addressed him as Bhaiya.’
One old person said to her ‘No Salima, no, why did you commit such a blunder?’ Saying this, the old man burst into tears and her brother started striking his head against the wall.

Spirits haunt the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. One day the spirit of an old man also came in the camp along with other spirits. The old man was half-naked, in loin clothes, ‘chappal’ in his feet and a bamboo staff in his hands. He had stuck a watch somewhere in his ‘dhoti’.

The spirits asked the old man ‘Have you also any relative in the camp?’
The old man said ‘No and Yes’.
The spirits again asked him ‘Baba, whom are you looking for?’
The old man replied ‘Those who could kill me’.
‘Why?’
‘I was assassinated more than fifty years ago. Now I wish that the rioters should burn me alive.’
‘Why do you wish so, Baba?’
‘Simply to tell them that I had neither died because of their shooting me down nor shall I die by their burning me alive’.
Some leader asked a spirit in the Shah Alam camp ‘Are your parents there?’
‘They killed them all?’
‘Brothers and sisters?’
‘No’
‘No one?’
‘No’
‘Are you happy and comfortable here?’
‘Yes, I am’.
‘Do you get food etc?’
‘Yes’.
‘Have you got clothes?’
‘Yes, I have’.
‘Do you want any thing?’
‘No Nothing’ 
The leader became happy and thought that the boy is sensible, not like Muslims.

Spirits visit the Shah Alam Camp after mid-night. One day the spirit of satan also came there along with other spirits. After seeing here and there the satan felt very much ashamed. He was finding himself unable to see the people face to face and was avoiding them. He was changing the course too often. Drooping his head, he used to make a quick turn where there were no people. At last people caught him. Shamelessly he said ‘whatever has happened here, I am not involved in all this. I swear, I am not at all involved in all these’.

People said ‘Yes, Yes. We know it. You can never do all this. After all you too have a standard and a principle’.

Heaving a sigh of relief, the satan said ‘God! I am feeling relieved now. You know the truth.’

¯ Asghar Wajahat

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