Majid Maqbool’s Profile of Mir Suhail

There was once a five-year-old boy who would wander through the streets of downtown Srinagar, marvelling at the beautiful green valley where he lived. When the child would eventually find his way home, he’d go straight to his crayons and begin putting those various shades of green on paper.

 

As Mir Suhail grew up and started school, the drawings of his emerald purlieus gave way to doodles and caricatures of his classmates and teachers, hemmed into the margins of his notebook. Alphabets were alien to him. His ammi would often be called to school to make him stop sketching and focus on studies. But it was water off a duck’s back.

In this carefree, doodle-filled childhood, Mir Suhail had made a special friend, a strapping twenty-something boy in the body of a man. Ismail, who lived next door, was deaf and mute; his mind hadn’t developed beyond the age of 10. Mir adored Ismail for two reasons: He smiled a lot, and he was a great climber. Mir and his army of tiny seven-year-olds would climb on Ismail’s capable shoulders to scale the walls of the locked garden near their house. Ismail was also his companion on long, meandering walks. When they were not out climbing walls or wandering the streets of Srinagar, Mir would draw and Ismail would sit next to him, clapping joyously every now and then, whenever Mir made something he liked.

Then one day, Ismail disappeared.

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