Was it the darkness of the night or the darkness of human souls that had blurred the vision of thousands? Who could tell? Gunshots roared in the distance as the nature screamed for human to stop this brutality. Humans always find someone to pin the blame on, for all the things they do. The cries echoed and the blood spilled, flowing down the drains as if poured out of the sky. Every fallen soul carried a story, a story that dribbled down in the form of blood as it would be written in the future. Not every story will make it to the light of the day. Some stories will fade away from the face of the Earth. But the heavens noticed, the heavens scribbled each and every story.
Behind the constant loud thumping of her pulse in her ear, was the noise sending constant chills down her spine; gunshots. Her lungs, desperately attempting to grasp the air and failing, it was like the air had been vacuumed out of the aura. Nausea took over her again. The legs protested her to stop. A hand wrapped around her belly, she fought the urge to vomit. Her eyes stung. She knew better than to stop. So she dragged the legs along but it is so long your organs choose to support you. The balance tripped and at the moment a hand reached for her rescue, wrapping around her in the same manner she had hers wrapped around her belly, for exactly the same purpose: protection. For a moment, everything became irrelevant- the gunshots in the background, the threat hanging over their heads. For a moment, the fading hope was restored. She was in the safest hands. For a moment, her dream came alive again. Everything would be fine now, everything. His gentle grip over her arm was reassuring. It was too dark for her to see his face but she could tell it was as handsome as the first time she had seen him.
“Come on now, we should rest a bit.” He said keeping his voice as low as possible yet at the same time loud enough for everyone to hear. It was a group of 8 people; 3 of them were feebly old.
“In here,” said a man named Mujeeb.
He had helped her sit down, his hand still protectively shielding her from the grave horrors surrounding them. She put her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes. His grip softened over her arm. She knew he was smiling. She imagined the dimple deepening in his left cheek. She had always loved that.
“I am gonna go look for some water.” The man named Jamal said.
“I’ll come with you.” Her heartbeat rose in objection. Her grip tightened over his hand. All the hope had faded away, making way for fear to grip her over.
“Please, don’t.” she pled.
“It’s okay. I’ll be back. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, son.” The old man, Habib Ullah, said.
“I am not, baba jee.” He said in a soft voice.
“I’ll come back for you, my queen.” He kissed her forehead.
Hadi, Mujeeb, and Jamaluddin had left for the water hunt. The night just became heavier for her to bear. It was a long night for her, longer than the one she had spent waiting for her baba jan to come home, the night before she met the love of her life.
5 years ago, Nehal had faced the life’s biggest tragedy. Her life had gone worse ever since till he came into her life.
One night, almost as dark as this one- she had sat in the room waiting for her baba jan to come home. She was reading one of his books, constantly glancing at the clock. He must have decided to stay in somewhere, she tried to tell herself. Her heart knew something was wrong.
Her mother had gone to bed but Nehal couldn’t bring herself to sleep. The world was too horrible to let her sleep. She had prayed silently again, for his safety. It was a long night for her. Baba jan hadn’t come home.
The next morning, the worst of the worst happened. The thing she had dreaded the most. Baba jan was a Scholar and an activist. He had been involved in movements of Tehreek-e-Pakistan. That put his life in grave danger. She never understood why he had to be involved.
In the morning when the bell rang, she had run- barefooted, bareheaded.
“Baba jan.” She had been repeating under her breath, her heart uneven with excitement.
Baba jan wasn’t standing on the opposite side of the door. There was a disciple of him. He had introduced himself, a name that at that time she was unable to hear. She just wanted to know where her baba jan was.
He held a torn kurta in his hands, his eyes moist with grief.
“Baba jan?” her pleading eyes searched for a clue on his face, something that stated otherwise than what she was thinking. She wanted him to deny, to tell her she was wrong. He wasn’t denying. She was struck with horror. The color of her skin faded, her throat dried up like a barren land.
She did not know what happened next. Who came, who went, who controlled her. The only thing she heard was screams- not knowing whose. Her baba jan was gone, just like that.
A firing incident, they had said. Lots of homes were uprooted. She finally understood why baba jan had to be a part of such movement. The home wasn’t the sanctuary anymore. They had to move to a safe haven. Pakistan was the safe haven. Pakistan had to be made.
(to be continued)
(to be continued)