Suzanne and Sundas were busy studying in their room when they heard a cry for help.
It was their mother Nuzhat Shah crying out loud for them while she was performing her daily chores inside the kitchen.
She had suffered a brain haemorrhage.
It was 6:45 pm on Wednesday and a light snowfall had started to turn Kashmir into a white-land.
Suzanne and Sundas are the daughters and Nuzhat is the wife of incarcerated Hurriyat leader Shahid-ul-Islam.
Shahid, whose real name is Aftab Hilali, is associated with a All Parties Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
On July 2017, Shahid along with seven other Hurriyat leaders were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with its probe into the “funding of terror and subversive activities in the Kashmir valley”.
Shahid is currently lodged at Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
Hearing her mother’s cry, Sundas, the youngest of the two daughters of Shahid, rushed toward kitchen in anxiety.
“I held my mother and shouldered her to the next room. Initially, I thought it might be the case of high blood pressure but as soon she leaned back, her eyes widened and her tongue came out,” says Sundas, a 7th standard student.
Unable to figure out what to do, Sundas called her elder sister Suzanne, a 10th standard student, for help.
With no one around to help, the two sisters trying their best to revive their mother started to rub her hands and feet.
“We can never forget that moment. It was like the entire world was crushing down on us,” says Suzanne wiping off tears from her eyes. “It was snowing and we couldn’t even reach out to our neighbours for help.”
It was only after Suzanne called her relatives that their mother was taken to SKIIMS Bemina (JVC), where doctor diagnosed her of having suffered a brain haemorrhage.
It was the second brain stroke that Nuzhat suffered with six days.
As per the family, the doctors have not ruled out a third stroke unless the patient is stress free.
A family of four, Shahid-ul-Islam is the only male member in the house and in his absence, a mother and two daughters are braving odds every day on their own.
“These have been the toughest days of my life and I am fighting all odds alone,” says Nuzhat in a soft tone, still lying on a bed.
The family had just returned from New Delhi after a brief meeting with Shahid at Tihar Jail.
Nuzhat says her husband is dying a slow death behind the bars.
“He has become very weak. He is already suffering from ailments like arthritis and diabetes. His eyesight is also weak,” Nuzhat says. “He has not been treated well in jail.”
It was perhaps the deteriorating condition of her husband that jolted Nuzhat to the core that eventually led to her own health worries.
Suzanne says doctors have cautioned them that if there would be a third stroke, it could prove fatal.
The family only have one appeal: “Release our incarcerated father on humanitarian grounds.”
The two desperate daughters in a fervent appeal also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider the release of their father.
However, there has been no response so far.
“We are running from pillar to post. In the past two years, our life has been nothing but miseries. Our father is in jail. Our mother is ill. We want our parents back,” Suzanne and Sundas say.
Taking cognizance of the plight of the family, former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti Saturday said she spoke with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and requested him for the early release of Shahid on humanitarian grounds.
“Have spoken with HM requesting his early release on humanitarian grounds as the wife has suffered a brain haemorrhage (sic),” Mehbooba tweeted.
Nuzhat and her two daughters say that they are optimistic that their pleas would be heard, and soon their guardian would be home.