The story of the missing Jawaharlal Nehru University student Najeeb Ahmed might have faded out of the media altogether, but for his ageing mother “hope” remains. Battling illnesses and at times hopelessness his Ammi, Fatima Nafees has not given up. “Without hope there is no life,” she tells The Citizen, here in Delhi again for yet another protest.

Three years ago Najeeb disappeared from his hostel room after an altercation with students of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Prior to this he had been beaten by the students and taken to hospital from where he had called his mother in Bareilly. She took the bus to Delhi and spoke to him while nearing the JNU hostel. When she reached, however, her son had disappeared.Till date there has been no trace of him.

Ammi as she is now called by JNU students literally camped in Delhi to pressure the police and the authorites to look for her son. She sat with placards asking for justice, she marched on the streets, she wrote letters, she gave interviews, she did all that was humanly possible to trace her son who she had personally brought to the hostel in JNU shortly before his disappearance. For Fatima Nafees her son just has to be alive, though many who have joined her protest in solidarity are giving up home.

“It has been very tough, I have high diabetes now and all related problems but those who say I have become weak are wrong. I am strong, maybe not as physically well as before, but I am strong enough to stand for justice, for my son to be found,” she said.

Her husband is paralysed from an earlier her accident. Her second son had been without a job but has found some employment through the Waqf Board. Her daughter who often accompanied her to Delhi is studying. But life these three years has been a rollercoaster of tension and emotion.

“My imaan is umeed” (I live on hope), she says, “as those without hope might as well be dead. “ How have you managed personally. “I am so tired, but I know I have to remain strong for my boy. Sometimes I feel I should just sit back and leave it to God, but then I realise he is helping me, that is why I continue to have the support of so many people here,” Ammi says.

She does not hesitate to call those who have “forgotten” to jog their conscience. The Citizen was amongst many to receive ‘Ammi’s’ call - “you are not writing about us anymore, you have forgotten my Najeeb.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation closed the case last year on October 15. The courts too have been scheduling hearings on the case once very two or three months instead of every month as at the beginning. There is a certain hopelessness and helplessness but for the mother, there is only ‘umeed’. As those who know her well say, we can speak of everything but never about the possibility that Najeeb might not be alive. She is stout in her belief that he is alive somewhere, even as life for her has turned into a bed of tears.