The sun blazed angrily in the sky. Its wrath burning every inch of the earth, but then what could you expect from it in this month of June? Endless heat, draining life from every living being. Again this wasn’t the end of the world. There were even more reckless hearts that won’t glare down at you from the sky, but burn you even worse. Sun burns the bodies, they burn souls. The sun gets tired of its tyranny, recedes every evening, giving the world a chance to breathe for a while – but they won’t stop until each and every sparkle of light goes out – until smiles wither away, until eyes lose their shine, left for nothing except a lifeless stare… an endless stare hiding untold stories… and “there’s no burden greater than having an untold story inside you”. It grows, spreads, flourishes on your happiness, feeds on your good memories, like a parasite, like cancer. Something that can only end with the end of the person bearing it…
The sun still had a few hours before it could retire from its job and if anyone could perform its duties with utmost zeal and fervour, that day’s sun could have outwitted him easily. Every now and then the wind would blow, hot as steam issuing from boiling water – reckless, merciless, mobilising the dust and sand that had blanketed the barren patch of land, once called a meadow. The particles would follow the course of the wind for some time, then fall helplessly to the ground to join the others. This wasn’t any different either, as it’s what all trusted ones do to you; lift you high, make you forget everyone else you left behind drowned in the shadows of the past, support you, make you depend on them for this new wave of happiness that rushes through your life, and then when you get addicted to their presence, they dump you wherever it suits them. People learn too much from nature.
In the vastness of that lifeless patch, stood a tree – branches drooping, leaves hanging lifelessly down them flickering every time the wind blew, making their shadows dance on the ground hanging even more mournfully down the branches when the wind had had its time playing with them. That’s right, ‘playing with them.’ The same meanness this world is full of today, and shadows.
People say they will stand by you through thick and thin, sometimes they prove to be so naïve, untrustworthy shadows. Stand by you in the hours of light certainly, but where are they when darkness takes over? Nothing is besides you then, the only ones left behind are you and your gloom.
The world, but couldn’t learn much from these grieves.
* * *
She took a deep breath and tears rolled down her cheeks. Why does everyone always believe that the past gets buried and remains buried more importantly? It floats; floats with every gush of wind; shines with every day’s sun; lurks in every shadow… it floats, above the earth, seen or unseen, judged or ignored, embraced or rejected.
“Mahnoor!” Her mother’s voice pulled her back from the depths of her thoughts. She couldn’t make out how long she had been drifting in an endless sea of useless thoughts when she drew the curtains close.
“Just a second mum,” she replied trying hard to conceal her heavy voice. It seemed to have been years since she had stopped sharing her feelings with others which pinched somewhat harder when it had come to her mother, but then that is what’s best for everyone in the end. Your stories buried inside your heart and your heart sealed forever so that they don’t find a way out for secrets can cause disasters if they get out. They are cancers if they remain inside. SECRETS ARE A CURSE!
Wiping the tears from the corners of her eyes, she moved in front of the mirror to check for any remnant of redness in them. A blank expressionless face stared back at her, blaming her silently for draining happiness out of it; for making its creases prominent as if someone had carved them out with a knife making the temples melt away… making the jaw bones stand out more prominently then ever… making the eyes people once envied, loose luster. She had too much on her mind then to stand there and take every blame on herself so closing the door behind her she went to listen to what her mother had to say.
As she turned the corner of the corridor, she caught sight of her brothers sitting in the lounge. She could hear them giggling and could see from the corner of her eye whispering to each other, “Hey fatty! Need these popcorns? Oh now come on, Mum won’t scold you! See how much weight you’ve lost,” said Ahmar giggling who was the younger of the two.
“My FM isn’t working properly, needs to be taught a lesson you know,” commented Haris laying particular stress on the word ‘FM’.
They both giggled as Fatty Mahnoor or FM was the nickname they used to tease her with for she had been quite bulky some years ago.
Pretending she wasn’t listening to whatever they were saying, she kept staring at her feet pacing across the lounge, till she reached the drawing room.
A middle-aged lady was sitting with her mother who stood up as she went in. She said salaam and received even more enthusiastic greetings in return.
“Mrs. Azam,” said her mother motioning her to sit beside her, “they moved in the house next door last week.”
“Yeah, we happen to be your next door neighbours,” she carried on the story, “moved in last week from Canada but had to return to our people one day you know. You can’t stay away from where you really belong for long and can’t blend with those you think are not entirely yours. My husband…”
She sensed the agitation and lack of interest Mahnoor was showing and, mercifully, put a halt to that story she wasn’t at all interested in.
She tried to force a smile, but that didn’t change anything. She knew the least thing she wanted to see was a smile on her face.
She didn’t come to see her eyes glittering with happiness, or a smile stretching across her face for she knew exactly who she was and that was going to cause her a great deal of trouble.
Her head was pounding with pain, like a thousand hammers striking the inside of her skull. She felt like her head was going to burst open with pressure from inside. A boiling brain trying a way out with blood boiling in her veins and eyes blazing with anger.
That was why her mother had called her with an explicit tone of kindness. What was she thinking? These are family friends, those are neighbours, he is your father’s friend who wants to see how much you reflect of him, this one was my university classmate, and in the end all had turned out to be what she hated the most these days.
“What’s the matter, dear? Is my presence bothering you? Yeah I know, my husband says I’m very talkative and also says I don’t let him get bored, but my child I’ve come here to…”
But before she could finish, Mahnoor was on her feet, yelling at the peak of her voice.
“And what do you know about what bothers me? You want to know? It’s you and your lot! Psychologists and psychiatrists – I hate you people. Disguised as friends, only what you people want to see are troubles behind peaceful faces, tears in dry eyes, nightmares in peaceful sleep. Why can’t you just let things be? Always interested in stories like kids searching for new stories every night so that they can sleep peacefully. You want stories? Why don’t you take a walk down the market? It has racks full of them, go and satisfy yourself, but if you think I’m going to amuse you with my secrets, you better find someone else to serve the purpose.”
Her mother’s face went down with helplessness and shame, but that lady on the other hand seemed as if nothing was new or astonishing for she didn’t seem to care. This psychologist business had to stop. Someone had to take action and as always she stood up for herself for she knew no one else was going to do her that courtesy. Tears welled up in her eyes, rolled down her cheeks and started dripping on her neck. She ran out of there, crossing the lounge where her brothers or dead souls were still laughing over something. She banged the door behind her and let her aching and tired soul fall on the bed, sobbing.
It wasn’t a matter of time before someone knocked at her door. It was Haris peeping through the half open door.
“I knew you didn’t like her so I drove her away for my little sister.”
A wide grin spread across his face as he winked at her, laughing and ran away leaving the door open behind him.
She understood exactly what might have happened. He would have done something hideous and made it look like she was the sole culprit and whatever she suspected was true for her mother came in quite soon, her face red with anger.
“You think we are fools who are trying to help you and you are the only wise person left on earth? What on earth were you thinking?”
She thrust a folded paper in her hand.
“Save it as a memory of the last time your foolish mother tried to help you. No psychologist will ever find his way into this house again.”
And as she reached the door, she turned around to say something that sounded like the last words for this discussion.
“Remember, everyone has self respect and you ought to be careful while picking up words when you are addressing the elders.”
With this, she closed the door behind her with an audible bang that clearly represented her anger.
Mahnoor unfolded that paper wondering what was she being accused of this time. It was a note to the psychologist;
“Dear Madam psychologist, I wished to pay you my last regards and ask you to keep your filthy self away from me. You and those like you make me sick, and has anyone ever told you that you STINK? I hate you, so take your stupid face away from me, FOREVER!
Your never-going-to-be patient, Mahnoor.
P.S: You are free to find other fools to make money if you still haven’t learnt a lesson.
Waves of fury travelled across her body while tears trickled down her cheeks burning her eyes she felt could go blind any time. Hiding her face firmly in the pillow she let out a loud scream but the pillow seemed to be absorbing every noise she was making.
Her brother’s laughter was still echoing around the room, every time growing louder. Those deafening voices were driving her mad, tearing apart her soul, causing pain no one could ever imagine, no one could ever see the scars she had to bear on her soul before she could finally find solace in her eternal sleep. She wanted to take her anger out somehow, hit whoever confronted her – hit him so hard to tear his body to pieces and in no time she was tearing the note her brother had written to pieces. She tore it to as many pieces as she could. The next moment lots of tiny pieces of paper were flying across the room, landing on the floor like snow lands on the ground, blanketing the carpet like snow covers the land.
Did she really need a psychologist?
Oh yeah, whispered a familiar voice in some corner of her brain.
After all, she was the Mad Fat Killer!
* * *
‘Time is the best healer,’ she thought, ‘how wrong were books again and all those who had taken the privilege of writing them.
The more you live with your past, the more it surrounds you; surrounds you like thorny bushes, growing and thickening with every passing minute, eventually refusing you a way out. The more you toil with them, the more you get wounded.
There’s no way out of your past. No corner of your brain buries it somewhere so deep that no one can ever dig it up again.
Except those tormenting years – she had no memory of her childhood. Her mother had told her she was born to a respectable well-off family, a family that was a byword for decency, but what she remembered had been quite the contrary.
Her first memory of childhood was a man whom she called her father, staggering into their courtyard, his clothes bloodstained, moaning with pain. Her mother, her brothers all leapt towards him shocked to hell. Everyone knew he was short-tempered but he had never taken up a fight with anyone before. Or had he faced an accident? That night their courtyard had seemed a thousand paces long even with all those big steps they were taking. Their feet seemed to be inching across it even though they were running as fast as they could.
“That man, that stupid boss of mine wasn’t ready to give me a week off. I told him I had the medical certificate,” he waved his hand towards us with a folded bloodstained paper held in it. Every now and then, he would stop to spit blood out of his mouth, with his anger already punctuating his speech.
“So I punched him, I kicked him and broke his tooth.”
He showed us his sleeve with the cuff badly stained.
“He said he wouldn’t pay me for the days I remained at home! How dare he talk to me in that tone after all the years I have served his company!”
His eyes sparkling with indignation, he kicked the table beside him and groaned even louder with pain.
“Said he would dismiss me for the way I talked to him. How dare that, that…!” and he looked around to see all his three children sitting around him. That was the last time she remembered her father had abstained from abusing someone in the midst of his children…
to be continued...