He happens to be a globally-acclaimed academician and authority on Kashmir-issue, presently holding the crucial charge of advisor to J&K’s Chief Minister. But when it comes to spending some good time with his mother, Prof Amitabh Mattoo, doesn’t shy from behaving like a momma’s boy, willing to shed his security cover for her.
Though enjoying the status of a Cabinet minister, Prof Mattoo, on the morning of April 20, smartly skipped his Z-Plus category security grid to spend some exclusive moments with his mother Prof Neerja Mattoo, much like ordinary people, at the famous Tulip Garden in Srinagar.
Sources say at 7:00 AM, donning a navy blue tracksuit and white sports shoes, Prof Matto was ready, waiting for his mom in the lobby of their ancestral home in Gogji Bagh area of the civil lines. Within moments, donning traditional Kashmiri Shalwar-Kamees, she too came out of her room, as the duo boarded their private car to drive some eight miles to the garden near the banks of Dal lake.
Prof Matto, whose wife and two daughters are presently abroad, took to driver’s seat of his silver color Swift Dzire while his mother sat on the front seat. Sources say the duo left the place alone saying they have some personal work.
On the reaching the garden, the men manning the entrance recognized Prof Mattoo and wanted to welcome the dignitary without entry ticket. But the mother-son duo, much like other visitors, got in the queue and procured tickets to get in.
Strolling around in the garden decked with over 20 lakh tulips on the foothills of Zaberwan hills, the mother-son duo kept talking at length for around two hours, enjoying every moment of the fresh morning breeze.
What transpired between them is not known, but Kashmir situation must have been in their mind because on reaching back home, Prof Mattoo made two emotional tweets, though without a mention of his private visit.
In his first tweet, Prof Matoo posted twin pictures of tulips and a weeping willow captioned, “The two sides of Kashmir today: the magnificent Tulips& the Weeping Willow.”
In the next tweet, he posted more pictures of tulips saying, “The overwhelming beauty of the Tulip garden in Srinagar, early in d morn, can make you weep in disbelief.”
Interestingly, in the 1990s when most other Pandit families migrated, the Mattos didn’t leave Kashmir even at the peak of militancy.
It is believed that Prof Neerja, who herself has remained a prominent academician, always taught her family to be connected to their roots. Something of this sort happened for a visit to Tulip Garden when the mother-son strolled around like commoners in their homeland.