I look back. I see…
A street lined with permutation of cypress trees and periwinkle plants on my right hand side and sharp-witted pillar line of poplar trees weaving high up in the mighty big blue sky on my left hand side. The road is a busy traffic for cutest fluttering swarming clouds of butterflies, which they dance in its rock n’ roll breezy air and make the dense forest happy and stay smiled in that shimmering summer. This is that road which leads to the Wullar Lake on its way end. A high-pitched, long-tailed, coloured white with black stripes like a zebra bird unzips from a poplar branch with a long, long shrill until it seated itself in a cypress tress. The bird shone like a hope in the despair. I called on my friend Javed, who is deadly with his slingshot. I asked him to hit that bird. He did not want. He said,‘let us not hit such a God-given bird.’ I held up this claim emphatically: Javed, hit the bird! Hit the bird! My constant demand, perhaps, sets off the air in confusion around, a small sudden wind rustled through those thin branches and the bird is stirred and flames like a rocket launcher in the air. I hear only the bird flitting towards the snow capped mountains. I hear my mouth escapes out a very rubbish and rueful fuming language on Javed. Javed does nothing back. He stands still. He knows me really well. He knows my anger. He knows me every inch, each customary behaviour. But. . . Heck, I never wanted to let to someone know this much about me. I mean that close me more than I know myself, each swinging mood of me and the time lapse of it. Maybe I wanted some part of me an occult. Maybe a little part of me extant. Maybe. Might as well, I waited Javed to act back on me. While I criticize him damagingly, he cannot watch me silent. It makes me feel timid and unworthy before him. It squishes me more than he could have hurt me saying an abuse back or slapping me there.
The tide hits my knees, it fades out.
I look back. I see…
A River Bed, muddy mound subway encompasses an embossed steeps of dark brown willow trees. Each big tree laying helplessly onto the smaller one, its roots sprouted up from the soil, most possibly by a strong wind like an old woman hugging her young daughter.
All trees bowing almost to the west as if they are praying namaz. Of them, we hear: tirr-tirr-tirr-tirr of the dashe-ponpur(Moth), the moth, at each exhale of its breath. Javed says, they are thanking Allah for their sustenance. I marvel, if Javed is telling me the fruits of his own imagination. Until Javed catches the one and shows me,“Allah” scripted in Arbaic on the moth’s forehead. I am dazed.
Still, I am in a want to keep the moth trapped in a match box, not considering if it died of hunger or of exhaustion in my pocket, and take it home.
Javed sets off the moth. During the flee fly the moth fills the air with a milk like thing. I fear it can be a poison, and might damage my eye. My friend Javed cackles at my furtive appearance. In my heart, I cuss at him and think to myself,‘He always does not the right thing.’
‘Caging someone’s right who was made to fly is a big sin, my dearest friend,’ he yells for my silent curse.
The tide hits my knees, it fades out.
I look back. I see…
Atif, Ashiq, Aquib and Saqib are holding a stretcher in which they are carrying Javed to the fourth floor, stair by stair, because of the out running of lift in the hospital. They huddle him through the crowd, while I am watching, cross-armed across my chest. Javed is pellet-hit in his both eyes and moaning to a tremendous pain. Pained Javed asks, if I am okay after the agitation in the market. I merely nod. Atif eyes at me and I babble a confused ‘yes’, having no heart to go close in and soothe his pained blood-ridden eyes. Doctors glimmering in black and white take him in the CCU and after a long number of hours the same day, the door opens and the doctor unmasks himself, taking off his blue transparent hood with a sullen look and a shy sigh says ‘sorry’. Just sorry. I feared. I did not attend even his jiothere death funeral. I was not even at his funeral. I cry a river. I cry all the night.
The tide hits again, my knees. It fades out.
4000 kilometres and some, I have come to see the mighty Arabian sea. I gaze into the glittering waters that play back and forth, and up and down in it. I cry for some unknown reason. I cry the same way I had cried that night. The night I had lost my friend. I relive a river of relief. Perhaps because, this ocean reminded me of my puny existence. And then, it’s now, since then, I recall, I have betrayed my friend, teased him, played on him, and toyed with his feelings. I want to cry in aloofness and want nobody dare to touch or stop me. I wish a rip tide could come and take me flopping, tumbling, into toss mighty own in the abundance and the frustration of the sea.
While I am reviewing my past tense, so fondly, two little boys, sodden by the flashes of tides, run by me, come back yet again, giggling, run once again, one after the other, and turn back and sit back again in front of me with two miniature plastic paper boats in their neat meaty small hands.
When Javed and I would fail to clutch a fish out of our gear—which used to be a poplar pole and a thin-thread line at or near the Wullar Lake, I would incline the gear out of the water, thrash it against the trees and sway it away in the woods in a rash. Saddened. And we’d had an endless walk in the lengthened and short shades of the willow, poplar and acacia trees through that steeper River-Bed. And then, we used to move to the alone sulphurous oasis. There, we would take a few drenches in the rotten egg smelly, but fresh water. For a while, then, we’d let the golden light of the sun, above our heads, make us arid.
Unsatisfied me, would ask him,‘Let us leave and be home then.’ And he’d say: ‘Haziq, let us play boats.’ He knew how to turn a ripple-like smile on my wrinkle-stiffened face. He always knew this. And that was what, I liked about him.
He’d then provide me the papers and say ‘wait for a second.’ He would fumble through his pocket containing a watch without wrists, an unused hanky, and then he’d get a few strawberries and a bitter red pomegranate. He would hand me the strawberries and pomegranate. While I would prattle and eat those things, he would produce the miniature paper boats.
Once we were about to set the boats into the water, I’d ask him rather sorely ‘What if my boat sunk?’ He’d say:‘Then one mine shall be yours.’
I’d never been so affirmative, then I’d complain him:‘What if that one sunk too?’
He’d say giggling,‘Then, I shall build us two new boats. One for me. One for you. If, the one, yours sink, you can always harbour in mine one.’ He’d pause and resume: ‘My boat shall always carry a meaning for you. So shall my life. My life shall always carry a meaning for you.’
And this meant…this meant…the world to me, I’d mutter to myself this.
The another round of tides splashed me as I shook my head and I saw the two kids glitting against the dappled sun in a pin-drop silence, gazing at the two plastic-paper boats. Both the kids kneeled, narrowed their eyes, watching their boats dangling and a tide overcame. Soon the tide washed away, only one of the boats, coloured red floated into the water. The other kid winced on seeing this and grunted: ‘Oh, my boat is down. My boat is sunk.’
On the other hand, the other boy grinned at him, his small stubbed teeth overexposed, and he pointed him his index finger,‘Look there it is. You see, it is floating.’
I saw both the boats up. Moving ashore with the incoming tide. One boat attached to the another, nearing towards the coast. I marvelled what kept them so attached. And when I saw, it was a thin thread, of a few millimetres, the other kid had tied. So thin yet so strong.
Rejoiced boy, asked,‘How did you do this?’ Beaming.
‘If, the one, yours sink, you can always harbour in mine one.’ He paused and resumed: ‘My boat shall always carry a meaning for you. So shall my life. My life shall always carry a meaning for you.’ The other boy said, smiling.
I felt I was hearing Javed again.
It made me smile again. Javed had for this once brought a smile on my face again. He had won over me all over again.
My smile was an uncontrollable thing now curling my cheeks to get separated by a distance. I feared I would die of smiling. I ran into the mighty Arabian ocean smiling. I ran.
I smiled as wide as the big Arabian sea.
I smiled as wide as the big blue, purple sky over my head.
~Haziq Qayoom Lone