06 - 12 June, 2015

“Farjad! Farjad where are you?” called out Munawar bewildered.
His mother came rushing out, “Beta is everything alright?”
“Khala our result is out, I saw it on the news.”
“Where is Farjad?” he asked frantically.
My phone line is dead so my net won’t work.
Farjad’s mother smiled at the young boy’s excitement and anxiety all at once,“first calm down”, she made him sit on the couch, but he couldn’t keep still, popping like a rubber duck in water.
“Farjad is taking a shower. He’ll be here in a minute, let me setup the computer for you two, I hope the connection is working, I must have an internet card somewhere in my wallet, let me check,” she
switched the computer on and turned to her bedroom.
Munawar looked intently at the screen, and thought about the possible outcome of their night long study sessions. Though he hated to admit openly but in his heart he wanted to get a percentage higher than Farjad as he didn’t study properly and used to miss classes too because of his muscle cramps often. Last year Farjad got a percent less than Munawar.
Although they both had a brotherly bond Munawar inside felt he had an advantage over Farjad for his healthy body, though he never showed or said anything as such but he did wish Farjad didn’t loath so much and accept that he was disabled.
Farjad came hoping out of the room, Munawar bolted towards him and blasted him with the news, Farjad hoped a step back and clutched the door post.
“So what is it?” He asked nervously I haven’t checked yet, my phone line is dead. It’s on the internet, aunty is bringing a card let’s check.
Farjad remained plastered to the door post as Munawar logged in and enter their roll numbers, “Who first?” said Munawar smiling sheepishly towards Farjad.
Farjad shrugged, his face pale with anxiety and still dangling against the door.
“Come here Farjad, come on!” said Munawar ushering him towards the computer but Farjad stayed fixed.
“I’m not entering until you come here,” said Munawar adamantly and ran towards him scopped him into his arms and ran back with Farjad flaying his limbs in all directions protesting. Farjad was very lean and Munawar’s build was triple his own so it was a piece of cake for Munawar to lift him and he loved winning over Farjad this way.
Munawar propped Farjad on the chair beside him and pulled out a coin.
“Head or Tails?” he asked.
“Tails,” mumbled Farjad.
“Okay,” he flipped the coin in the air and it landed with a soft thump over the carpet.
“Tails it is…” rejoiced Munawar, “so you go first.”
Munawar entered Farjad’s roll number and both fixed their eyes over the screen as Munawar pressed the enter button. After five excruciating minutes the screen returned showing an 86.5% over the screen. Farjad sighed a breath of relief as it was a decent result, more than he expected.
Now it was Munawar’s turn.
Munawar entered his roll number and closed his eyes, the screen blinked behind his closed eyelids; he waited for Farjad’s reaction to tell him what his percentage was.
“Wow man! You win,” cried out Farjad gladly.
Munawar peaked through his finger and saw an 88.2% flashing proudly over the screen.
Farjad hugged him around, he was used to being the second in everything but as long as it was Munawar who wins he didn’t mind.
Munawar didn’t talk to Farjad after that night; they sat in front of each other silently, at the hospital waiting room, Bilal was shifted to a high dependency unit after the operation. He was said to regain consciousness later in the evening. Time flew by quickly, the silence between them stretched, it felt as if it would never end or else thunder into something that would completely end everything between them.
Farjad was still in disbelief; Munawar on the other hand couldn’t find words to clarify his feelings at the moment.
The sun dipped into the night’s sky and Bilal came out of anesthesia, one by one they were allowed to visit him. Munawar went inside and looked over the stump his brother was left with, it broke him but he smiled back, Bilal was still under the effect of medications and mumbled pointless sentences then and now.
“You will be fine mate,” said Munawar encouragingly as he left the room. Bilal nodded drowsily.
The family returned back home that night, they had dinner and everyone tried to seem relaxed that the operation went soundly. They devised a strategy to cope up with the psychological trauma Bilal would be under. The doctors’ suggested that since Bilal’s amputation was very sudden he may much likely go into post traumatic stress disorder. A counselling session will have to be strictly followed for a couple of months.
As Farjad and Munawar retired to bed, Munawar sat up on his bed and for the first time in 24 hours tried starting a conversation.
“Bilal looked in better shape this evening than we first saw, I can’t thank Allah enough,” he said casually.
“Yeah Thanks to Allah,” replied Farjad, “Munawar do you really need me here?” asked Farjad a little harshly.
“What… What do you mean?” said Munawar stuttering, he got the idea that he was being confronted.
“I’m mean that all these years you pitied me and now you want me to tell your brother that’s it’s all right to lose a leg, because dear Bilal you too may end up finding yourself as disgraced to your brother as I have found out,” yelled Farjad bursting all the anger he had kept locked for hours now.
“Farjad!!!” exclaimed Munawar.
“What Munawar? What! Tell me honestly, it hurts now doesn’t it? Because it’s your brother who’s suffering. All these years I was foolish to believe you, your empty words, your false consolation, you actually never understood what I had been through, you never felt my pain and now I know what it really was!” Farjad was raging.
“It’s not what you are thinking Farjad, I’m sorry I said that last night but I never meant that I have pitied you all along I just don’t want…
I don’t want Bilal to… I don’t know how to say it,” said Munawar dejectedly, try to calm him down. He knew the honest response would hurt Farjad but he didn’t want to keep him in the dark either.

“You actually have nothing to say. Now don’t give me an emotional dialogue in defense I’m fed up of this act!” replied Farjad rudely.
“This isn’t the right time for these differences to be sorted out, I wanted you here to help me get through, not argue over lost days. Farjad have I ever disappointed you, I’ve things to be angry about too and I have moments where I could choose to opt for a less difficult friend.”
“You want to hear the truth? I’ll tell you now,” said Munawar unnerved.
“All these years I’ve tagged along with your tantrums and needs, you cringing away from public and your low self-esteem, I have abandoned numerous social gatherings and activities just to be with you, and what do I get in return? This?” fired Munawar infuriated.
“I don’t want my brother to become you, because no matter what Allah has blessed you with you are thankless and whining over just one thing he took from you.”
“I would be more proud of a brother who has lost a leg yet faces life with a brave heart not complain or snaps about people being fools all the time.”
“And yes one more thing, I have always been sincere with you but yes, the pain I feel for my brother is different. Because perhaps I might have never realised but now I feel that friends and family hold a different place in our hearts. They can never be the same.”
Munawar eyes swam with tears and his face was red with anger and remorse together, he waited intently for Farjad to say something. Farjad just kept gazing at the floor; he couldn’t find words in fact any emotions at all. He was numb.
They both laid down opposite to each other quietly. Both of them didn’t sleep. Munawar thought he was too harsh on somebody he had treated affectionately all his life but part of him said that it was time to make Farjad realise his mistakes.
Farjad felt a pang of guilt and although every word seemed poisonous and vile, part of him believed that whatever Munawar said was somehow true. He took his disability as a pity for himself, perhaps if he really did let go of the stigma he had associated himself with, life would be less irritable for him. But for Farjad, Munawar hadn’t been less than family and this just couldn’t sink inside him.

* * *
Just before dawn cracked the sky, the phone rang up. Munawar sat upright alarmed and answered the call. The bell woke me up too, but I was only listening quietly, my heart racing in fear of some bad news. Munawar said that he was coming right away and pranced off the bed.
I stirred in his bed and looked towards him, his eyes asking silently what’s wrong?
“Bilal had a panic attack this morning. They are trying to sedate him; he isn’t dealing well with the amputation.”
Munawar rushed outside and I popped out of bed following him. Neither had he asked nor I offered to go with him but silently we followed each other to the parking lot then into the car.
At the hospital the situation was really bad. Bilal was in a fit of rage and depression at the same time. Machines beeped madly over him, a group of male nurses were hovering over him try to sedate him and calm him down.
He kept yelling in pain and repeating I want to die, I want to die, let me die, let me go… over and over again.
Munawar and I were shortly told to leave the unit and the doctor came to visit us after a while. He sat Munawar down and briefed him of the situation.
“Actually this was expected but I am a little concerned that the sedatives aren’t calming him down as expected.”
“Is that serious doctor?” asked Munawar pale and drained in worry.
“At times when patients are emotionally charged it is difficult to override that state. But don’t worry we will deal with that. Just stay close and pray, I must reassure you that this is if not normal but a common post-effect and it will take time to recover.”
“A word of caution though is that in your brother’s case since it was very sudden followed by an accident he may show sucidial symptoms as well.”
Munawar put his head in his hands and broke down into tears. It was really painful for him; I could understand his agony. I wrapped around him and rubbed his back supportively. The doctor came around and patted Munawar over the shoulder, “Young lad, you will have to be stronger than this… put yourself together.”
I took Munawar to the cafeteria. We had a cup of coffee and I tried to forget the argument we had last night and make it up for my bad behaviour. We talked through his fears and concerns and then we went to the prosthetics support group to collect some information.
As we were returning back to the ward my phone rang, it was mother on the other side she asked about Bilal’s condition and also mentioned that mamo had a congestion that had progressed into pneumonia and he had been hospitalised in an emergency last night.
I felt the earth slip from beneath my feet, after father’s death mamo had been more of a father to me than anyone, and this news bolted on me as lightening.
“But don’t worry Farjad, mamo is much better now, the medicines are working well. He’ll be good soon.”

“Amma I’m coming home,” he said alarmed.
“Arey beta don’t worry. We are fine and Junaid is here with his baba too. Munawar needs you more there!”
“No amma I just can’t stay knowing mamo is hospitalised. I’m coming.”
Munawar overheard the conversation.
I ended the call and looked apologetically towards Munawar, “I have to go could you ask the driver to drop me to the bus stop?”
Munawar looked meaningfully into his eyes trying to deliver the message, and hoping this turn of tables would make force Farjad to think. He nodded benevolently.
“This is the difference Farjad,” he thought, “this is the difference between the pain of a family member and that of a friend.”

* * *
Farjad arrived to the local hospital of his area after a three-hour journey across the city to his sub rural hometown. He wobbled his way to the ward and found his mamo peacefully lying on the bed and his cousin calmly sitting beside him.
He stood up seeing Farjad and smiled at him, “I told phupo not to trouble you, see baba is perfectly fine,” he said, “his congestion developed into a mild pneumonia but everything is in control now. The doctor said they will shift him on oral therapy tomorrow then we can take him home.”
“How is Bilal doing?” Asked his cousin, four of them were childhood playmates and knew each other very well.
“He is not fine, the operation went well but he isn’t coping up with the amputation psychologically. He had a severe panic attack this morning.”
“Oh that’s sorrowful to hear, I hope he recovers soon as this is really devastating. It must be very hard for the family too.”
“Hmm…” mumbled Farjad.
“Farjad , I told you to stay,” said his mother entering into the room, “look your mamo is perfectly fine, aren’t you bhaiya?” said her mother gesturing towards her brother.
Farjad’s mamo nodded with a faint smile under his oxygen mask and did a little wave to comfort Farjad.
Farjad smiled back. “I just could not stay there knowing mamo was sick.”
“See beta this a message from Allah, friends and family both make an integral part of our lives but innately we leap more vehemently towards the care, and needs of our family.”
“Munawar is a good boy,” she said gazing into his eyes.
Amma has read everything in my eyes. Thought Farjad and she is right.

* * *
Farjad returned to Bilal the next evening and Munawar received him whole-heartedly, they hugged each other and all the differences melted in unspoken words.
Bilal made good progress over
the week, his panic attacks
reduced, Farjad accompanied him to his therapy session and it did well for both.
A single event changed the course of not only Bilal’s life but Farjad and Munawar’s as well, they found a deeper meaning to their friendship as well as the ties of relationship that bind humans together.
Sing through the labyrinth of grievances, dive into the glory of now, breath the sweetness of yesterday and aspire with your footsteps into tomorrow.
The forthcoming hours are a bundle of mystery, unravel the layers with caution; tamper the surge of adrenaline that gushes wild in curiosity and hold on to the ground of patience. Seek contentment from what is in hand but forget not learn from the lessons yesterday gave you. Stretch beyond the territory of your peace, mold and build the nothingness with wisdom. Use this moment to find a new meaning.•

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