By Muhammad Shahrukh Khan
The typical misty evening as per routine – as usual the burning fire at the corner was letting off a dozen of flickers of fumes, that fell cold afterwards. Loud voices and cheers of limitless ardon besieged an open ‘dhaba’ in the way. Some talks were hybrid of intellects and socio-political bonanza while, others were simply a hodgepodge of reckless yawps, that serve as an inceptive source of laughters – dogs laugh too, but they laugh with their tails, what puts men in a higher state of evolution is that he has got his laugh on the right end. Remember, men need laughter sometimes more than food.
Hundreds of trucks, lorries, wagons, cars and even 70’s scooters seemed sleeping together as a forgotten band of lost brothers. A rusted tape-recorder rolled a calm relishing tune of Noor Jehan’s majestic song, that were a definite choice to induce sensations in one’s ear. Infact, the lively ‘dhaba’ could have been perfect set-up for a new visitor – who was to be convinced to rate it as an ‘Open-day Gala’.
Where the dimmed lights faded like a strayed meteor, the buffet of breeze was intervened by a strange face in the party. A long handerkerchief and a thin mustache – he stepped bluntly at first, and then began to approach with sliding feet. Later, he crossed a fench, gaped to his full, jumped off the fence and barged into the premises. Exactly, after a minute and a half, he was in-seated with a cloud of aimless cues slithering across his mind. For a second, he sniggered and then submitted himself to the sea of never-ending memos.
Four years ago, he stood exhaustly at his father’s funeral – a fountain of tears bursting upon his brown cheeks. His father meant to be a landlord; not an accustomed figure but, with an eccentric preeminence.This is world you know – where your guardian angel shall always look for you; you shall always find your way home; nearly all doors and roads should open up for you. Nearly- because it is hard if there are no unfilled wishes and dreams left.
The most immutable barrier in nature is between one man’s thoughts and another’s. During his good times, he never experienced the pain of rifting barriers as you and I are used to, to the timely foes. Being the only lad, his ancestral treasures forced him to never make his prospects clear. Raja, Maharaja or a Nawab call it as lavishly as you like. His young life seemed even more divine than the heaven in the seventh sky but, then only he could have realized that the hell peeps his door few steps ahead. He was useless, abortive and decrepit – he came to know it after some days only. Importance of being idle – The misery stricken relatives toppled the uncrowned prince’s legacy and it just took four weeks when her mother and himself were thrown out of the ‘Shahi Haveli’. But, it’s quite a while ago, something like ages or centuries – he often thought.
Life is not fair – get used to it; he counseled himself once a time more. His thirty year old hand then, twitched out a velvety wallet from his side pocket. The wallet that was more precious than the money inside it; firstly it reminded him of his vintage father and secondly, it carried a portrait of ‘her’. As many times he had seen them, her eyes seemed drench with silver sunshine that utmost were the fusion of black and white pageants. To love someone who does not love you, is like shaking a tree to make the dew drops fall. As fortunes were stiffly against him, the paradise of silver sunshine he dreamed of dancing in was reserved for the other protagonist. She was destined with the ‘happily ever after’ fairy tale tagline – so she chose the road that the fate compelled her to do so.
A deep breath. He blinked his both eyes spontaneously – it was like waking from a very lengthy dream or possibly a nightmare. He quired his neck to find a waiter or someone. In a crowd of hundreds he then saw a boy of ten or nine who splashed a cloth inside a plastic bucket and then, waived his cloth on the table for four. He was deeply involved when suddenly, a grave herculean voice called him.
“Boy! Yes you”, he called the boy.
“Me?”, for an instant the boy dropped the cloth and rushed towards the
But, the client was too busy in his thoughts and compiling his remembrance. Some point during his early days, he had a few bulks on his cheeks – the days when her ‘nani’ narrated a fable when the floor was frosting from winter. Few minutes after he would drown into hypnosis, and surrender himself to surrealist dreams. He smiled again. Perhaps, Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. When the world gives you a feeling of “déjà vu,” when you are used to existence, you become an adult.
“Sir!”, The boy spoke loudly to prove his presence.
That callow voice was loud enough to break his psychedelic ritual.
“Yes! You boy. I want a doodh patti? How much for it?”
“20 rupees Sir”, the boy smiled back.
His eyes were twinkling and a sort of inner-satisfaction illuminated from his face. For a reason, the stranger couldn’t get this thought of his upset mind. Just before, the boy could turn back to obey his orders he would call him back. The boy look puzzled hoping that the client would mostly probably amend his order. In fact, he had no idea what it would lead into.
“What’s your name boy?”, the stranger tried to put a fake smile to hide his pain.
“Zakir!”, the boy replied in a loud tone.
“Where do you live Zakir?”
“Why? Would you complain to my parents?”
A manly laugh bounced back from the other end,
“No! No! that’s not the case Zakir! You have been very good thus far.”
“Thank you Sir! I live near the station in one of those old huts.”
Even knowing that those were the most unprivileged parts of the city he seemed somehow fascinated.
“Oh! How many members are there in your home, Zakir?”
“I’ve a father, a mother and… three younger brothers.”
Innocent Zakir tried his best to open the threads in one deep breath.
“You don’t study do you?”, the stranger asked him hoping a negative response.
“Yes Sir! I do”, in amour-propre the boy raised his head up high .
In bewilderment, that came as a surprise for the stranger. He never thought that a poor kid like him could even end up in school.
“You work and study too? Isn’t it hard for you to manage?”
“No Sir! Actually I work to support my studies… You know education is important. Ma’am Sakina says that. If one has to put out of misery then education is the only tool to achieve that.”
“Don’t you sometimes dream of being born somewhere else? Somewhere where there is money? Where you play with the kids of your own age? Eat much as you like? Sleep in a comfortable cozy place?”
He never wanted his pessimism to erupt in an impetous manner; But, it had. The anger, frustration and agony he buried for years somewhat cracked the nut-shell and spilt on the childish soul.
“My mother says dreams are dreams for a reason Sir! They don’t necessarily come true!”, Zakir said something which was so prodigious.
He continued, “I may be born poor but I’ll not die poor. I’ll work hard for my family, study hard and would succeed. Hardships are everywhere Sir! But time never remains the same. I’m won’t sit back and take where the life takes me instead, I’ll carve my own path and win in the end.”
His eyes still twinkled as he walked back to grab a cup of tea for his client, who was struck by a thunder from inside. Sometimes little things in life teach us lessons that the complex hurdles fail to address. He might be too little but what made him discrete was his inner strength. He realized what he was into and knew the exit door. Even though the journey was long and track was sown with throne it would lead him to his destiny. Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
The stranger smiled again, raised his head towards the sky in gratefulness. He knew in the mine of coal he found an amethyst – the amethyst that enlightened his soul and taught him a lesson that would go on to change his miserable life into something which he had never dreamed of.