Father and Son
May his father rest in peace, at least he buried the dead
TRAGEDY BY MALIK SAJAD
Lying on the reeking straw-matt, his body is idle, and his gaze fixed on the spider-web above him all over the coarse wooden ceiling. Amid the broken dusty walls of his stifling room, waiting for dreamless eternal sleep, his dry eyes are wide open; he seldom blinks.
Feeling already exiled from this world, he scarcely tastes food, and with no one around to console him. Long time ago he lost track of the space and time.
He doesn't admire the slanting beams of sunlight that cut through the cracks in the wall and brightens the room. He prefers it dark. However today a cold breeze succeeded in tearing apart the crisp pale newspaper sheet that concealed a wide chink in the wall and freshened the room.
Breathing a whiff of fresh air, a wave of energy surged up in his body, leaving him nostalgic. He thought of his youth when he was a tall, handsome, well built thief. Even though everyone in his locality scorns him, he savors the memories of his past. He was a scrupulous thief. Meticulously fishing out purses form the pockets of the people waiting in queue outside the ticket window of Khayam Cinema. With the stolen money he watched movies and invited friends for barbecue parties. And if there were any essential documents say identity card or license in what he had stolen, he posted it back to its owner.
This was the time when there were post offices in this country. He was getting better in his niche. Had the spell of repression not befallen on this troubled Valley, he would have become a millionaire and there would have been number of lackeys to fawn on him today. But he doesn't regret, at least he was lucky enough to survive the war.
Blinking his eye again, he sways his eyes and his throat dry. The water jug coated with dust is next to him, but he is too week to move his body. There is no one around, not even his son. He moistens his lip with his tongue to quench his thirst. His stiff body reminded him of dead bodies he left naked in the graves, after robbing them of their shroud, in the darkness of night.
When war began, there were no swarms of people around anymore in the city. Everyone had incarcerated themselves inside their houses to avoid stray bullets or being bullied. There was nothing anymore left in the city to steal. Whatever money people had, they secured it in the banks, making them prosper overnight. Cinemas were razed, mosques raided and life savaged.
He was good at nothing except stealing and cherishing company of his friends. The war left him jobless, impoverished and starving. When a stray bullet left one of his friends dead, he saw his body enshrouded at his burial. Melancholy and hunger struck him at once. His mind started wandering around the graveyard where many people were enshrouded in snow-white cloth beneath the dank soil.
As soon as the darkness and silence fell all over the city, he hopped to a graveyard nearby with a pickax, dug the enshrouded dead people out, and buried them again naked after flinching away their shroud. Next day he sold the shroud to site his hunger. Thenceforth this became the way for him to survive. Digging made his body warm and his heart colder than ice.
Lying paralyzed on the floor he thought of the Day of Judgment, as it was getting dark, afraid of those from whom he stole the shroud, identifying his that day. He yearns to apologies to those who know him and his misdeeds; fearing that tomorrow's dawn will never come.
A sudden creak distracted him. It is his son at the door, who swaggered across the room and sat next to his father sulkily. Father wagged his jaw suggesting thirst. Son poured a few drops of water from the jug into his mouth. Holding his breath father grasped the meager energy left in his body to convey last wish to his son. "Son I lived like a filthy pig, I am afraid of people spitting on my grave. You are young and I want you to use your breath for something good so that people wish your father peace" father mummers. Son held his father in his lap, watching him die.
People reluctantly shouldered his body to the graveyard. For a few days son didn't come out of the room where his father breathed his last. He thought of his father taking him to Khayam for barbecue, how his father shielded him whenever army barged into their house during crackdowns, and his last wish.
One night when stars spangled the sky and moon was full, he left the room with pickaxe in his hand. When the dawn broke, looking at the human carcasses scattered on the ground; dug out from the graves, naked and without shroud on their bodies, people muttered " may his father rest in peace, at least he buried the dead bodies back after robbing them of their shroud"
Lastupdate on : Thu, 9 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 9 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 10 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OPINION
83-year-old visits homeland in South Kashmir
Wulurhama (Pahalagam), June 9: People in this village of South Kashmir district of Islamabad (Anantnag) have been thronging the house of Kabir Shah who met his family here 68 years after he moved to Lahore More
- Srinagar City
D A RASHID
Srinagar, June 9: Irked by lack of proper civic amenities and congestion at Dabtal Gurgadi Mohalla, Zainkadal in Shahr-e-Khaas, the residents said they were willing to get relocated should the government More
Jammu, June 9: Eight years since a Mammoth skull with complete lower and upper jaws and a broken tusk was discovered from Pampore in Kashmir, the rare fossil is gathering dust in the corridor of the Jammu More
MOULANA SHOWKAT’S KILLING
Srinagar: The meeting of All Parties Probe Committee constituted to investigate the killing of Jamiat-e-Ahlihadees chairman, Moulana Showkat Ahmed Shah, remained inconclusive on Thursday. Sources More
- For Contributors
How to contribute? Email your articles and letters only at email@example.com and not on any other ID meant for news, advertisements, public notices etc. Contributions received on these IDs More
HAILS ARUNDHATI FOR HER POWERFUL MESSAGE ON KASHMIR ISSUE
Geneva, June 9: British Parliamentarian George Galloway on Thursday impressed upon India to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions. “All Kashmiris want is what was promised to More