A short story by Hamza Shafique
Edited by Adeena Mirza
Edited by Adeena Mirza
Chapter 1 : Sun Light
Where was I?
As soon as I opened my eyes, the light came piercing so strong that my reflexes came in to action and my eye lids closed again. I moved my hand to cover my eyes but something was holding my hand back. I opened my eyes slowly this time, gave my eyes a little time to adjust with the light, which I realized was sun light coming from the front window.
But where was I?
I was in a hospital; the surrounding seemed like a private ward, a needle in my arm attached to drip and a nurse standing by checking some thing on a board in her hand.
Yeah right what a perfect place to put a patient, direct under the sunlight. And on top of that assign a middle aged fat nurse, so that she can block all the Air from the AC.
I have always hated people with no esthetics and sense, I wanted to say some thing but felt so weak. “Why you are blocking my Air and yes I would like to know why am I here” I said in normal voice but it came out as a whisper only. The Fat nurse was still looking at the board in her hand, with a worried look on her face and I was surprise to see some sweat on her forehead knowing that she is enjoying direct cool air from the AC.
All of a sudden I remembered why I am in this small room.
Chapter 2: Flashback
“Hey Saba, whats up?” I said in my own signature tone.
“you seem excited , what is it” Saba replied on the other side of the Phone.
“There is something I really want you to see, come quick” I said jumping of the sofa and shifting my cell phone from one ear to other.
“Hey I hope it’s not that dog you got earlier which won’t stop barking” she replied in a sarcastic tone.
“Yeah, yeah you are really funny, come quick or wait I will come pick you up” I said while adjusting my hair in the mirror with my hand “In fact its better if I will come”.
“You are the most irritating fiancé one can ever have, I don’t know how I will survive with you” she replied in a fake irritating style,
I have always loved when she does that, off course I have to show her the brand new E 350 I just bought, as she will be the one riding with me on the front seat in future. Being an architect and owner of my own firm with client’s world wide has its own benefits.
“I have always been proud of my self, starting from scratch and in just three years had the countries leading architect firm” talking in front of mirror like giving some sort of an interview.
“Sherry get down now, the break fast is ready” I heard my mom down stair, screaming my name as she has always done.
I ran down, almost crossing three stairs at a time. At the breakfast table I saw my mom and sister already eating. I kissed my mom on the forehead, and stuck a tongue out at my sister – my usual morning greeting. Teasing her has been my favourite morning ritual. There was a time when that would result in a complaining session but now, I guess, she has made her peace with me.
“Mama I am going to Saba’s house” I said while drinking the glass of orange juice,
“Saba is lucky we are your blood relations and yet she is the first one to ride the Mercedes” My sister said in a teasing way.
“Don’t be jealous sis, she is your future Bhabhi (sister in law)” I stuck the tongue out again.
My sister just rolled the eyes and took a bite of her sandwich.
“Sherry beta did you offer Fajr, you are always awake at that time just pray before going for a jog it wont hurt” My mom’s much loved subject to start the day.
“Yeah Yeah, I will” I said leaving toward the car shed.
I parked my car in front of the flower shop and stepped out. The sudden scorching heat hit my face and I realized how hot it was. I remembered on the news, the weather forecaster had said it would be 50 C summer heat - breaking all previous records; on top of that hot and dry summer afternoon wind. I felt slightly dizzy but I just stretched face muscles and went to the flower stall.
“Can I have white roses? 12 in total please.” The heat wasn’t helping at all. My head was growing heavy and I felt my eyes closing, my lungs expanding to get some fresh air and then, before I could grasp anything - I was on the ground.
Chapter 3: Life
“Oh, you are awake now” the nurse looked at me and said softly, “Please don’t move, I Will call the doctor” and she turned, realizing that the sun is directly on me closed the curtains on the window.
“Wait” I said in a loud voice at least I thought I said it loudly but my voice still came out very low, my lips were dry and hard making it hard to talk, “Can you please untie my arm, I will keep it still”
“oh sorry , you were moving your arm, so we had to tie it so that the IV is not disturbed” she said while untying the Arm.
“What happened to me and how I ended up here, as last I remember, I was buying eh …. Flowers”
“I guess it’s better if doctor explains this to you” she said in a bit confused manner and left the room.
I put my arm straight on the bed, and adjusted my position, the room was very small but furniture was very neatly placed. The only problem was bed, but based on the room structure the current position was the best possible.
The doctor came in shortly, “How are you feeling now?” she said in a voice full of concern but with a smile on her face.
“I am fine, feeling a little tired and dehydrated” I replied, she was really pretty with curly long hair tall, clear skin with sparkle in her eyes and an assuring smile, exactly opposite of the nurse.
She stood there for a second, checked the same board the nurse was checking a moment ago. She got the same worried look and turned to me. “Ok, so you must be wondering how you ended up here?” she looked at me with questioning eyes. “An old man brought you here in your Mercedes. He paid for your expenses also and said that you were lying unconscious on the ground. As per some witnesses some teenager stole your wallet, cell phone and sunglasses.” She stopped for a while, dragged a seat closer to my bed and sat.
“Well, first we thought you had heat stroke. Suddenly moving out of an air-conditioned car to 50 C heat wave can cause this. But later, we noticed that your arm was moving on its own after certain intervals while you were unconscious , so we ran some test while you were asleep ” she again stopped. Her face had a look, like her next few words would change my life. “But before that, tell me, is there someone we should contact from your family?”
“Yeah I would like to call my mom” I said smiling, “She must be going crazy by now”
I gave my Home number to the nurse and she left the room.
“Ok what I am about to say is going to be hard for you, but you should know that you are in the best hands right now and we will do every thing to help you” she said softly but with a plain look
“Doc, you are scaring me now” I said forcing a smile on my face.
“While you were unconscious we ran some test” She paused for a moment as in thinking on how to word the next statement,” We found out that you have intracranial neoplasm in lay man terms brain tumor in last stage” she took another pause as if trying to see my reaction and started again in a confused manner,” Possible cause of your unconsciousness, the survival rate at this stage is really low” Another pause and then with a tinge of confidence, her voice growing louder now, ,” but you should know that I am the oncologist division head and I will make sure you get the best possible treatment”
“Is this is some kind of joke” I said again forcing a smile on my face, but my eyes were already giving away my cover.
“I will give you a moment alone and I will check if the nurse has called your mom.” She put the chair back in place and as she headed for the door, she said with a sympathetic smile “It’s going to be fine” and she left.
The room seemed a little darker now, everything seemed out of place, how come I have something serious like that, She must be joking this all must be some kind of prank, I will never talk to those behind this prank again in my Life. Life , if this all is true than I don’t have life remaining, low survival chance , How can God do this to me.
Life is so fragile.
I realized it now, I think she was serious, this all is not a joke, this IV attached to my veins is real, this bed, irritating sun light, these devices, that fat ugly nurse, that pretty doctor all of this is real, and here is one of the best architect with a leading firm is lying on the bed waiting for his death. Only yesterday I was excited about having a Mercedes and today I am suppose to write my will and plan how I should proceed with the treatment so that the end is less painful than it looks.
My mind got all crowded with, what will happen to all my Plans, my work, My mother, how will she ever be able to get over this, My sister , who will secure her future, college , how will she manage the affairs of the house. My savings are not enough everything is invested in the firm.
SABA, she will never be able to laugh again, she will never be able to live again. How can God do this to All of us,
How can God disturb so many lives?
This is too much to take. I pushed myself back in to the pillow, staring at the ceiling. It was plain white like my future. The smiling faces of all the people I loved came to my mind and a single drop of tear found its way out.
I asked myself again,
How can God do this to my life just like that?
Chapter 4: Why Not
The voice startled me. I looked around but there was no one. In fact, there was nothing around me - no furniture , no window , no walls , no medical devices, nothing. I checked my arm the needle was gone too . I realized I am under some sort of light in nothingness, how come this is possible? And where is this light coming from? I squinted and looked around. There it was. I had identified the source of light. It looked like a big round theater spotlight. My head felt heavier. I was trying to figure out what just happened and then I heard the same voice again.
And suddenly another spot light turned on a few feet in front of me.
And there is this man, standing with his face down, a young man with golden colored hair and beard that gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He was dressed in a long white gown. He raised his head and looked in to my eyes.
His eyes blue, deep and clear. Perfect proportionate face with fair skin, as straight out of Da Vinci’s paintings.
He started moving and came to the right side of my bed and said in a very clear voice,“Give me one good reason why not, what makes you so special”
He continued “There are millions of people dying every day in accidents, bomb blasts, terrorist activities, collateral damage. They don’t even get time that you got”
I was in a shock; my mind was searching really hard to find a logical explanation for all this.
His pronunciation was perfect, his stress and pauses in his dialogues were amazing, and it was like I am watching a theatre performance. I felt like I am paralyzed, couldn’t move at all, just staring at the guy, who is by now seemed pleased with my reaction.
“I am used to of this kind of response but honestly, was not expecting such a reaction, from a young confident business man like you” he said in a pleased tone. He turned and started moving away from me, with it the surrounding started to change, I was on the same hospital bed but now the light was gone.
I was now surrounded by beautiful vegetation and in the near by I could see a beautiful water fall. It felt like I am in a mountain jungle, with loads of colorful flowers, butterflies and birds. It seemed like day time with clouds covering the sky.
This was too much now; my mind gave up all tries and hopes of finding a logical explanation, I was sure now that I have died and I am in heaven now.
“Not so quick my friend, you are not dead yet and this not heaven”
He sat on a near by rock, leaning back on a tree. A big, colorful butterfly was flying around him.
“you need to get out of this hospital robe” he said while looking at the butter fly flying by.
The next moment I was sitting on a very comfortable sofa wearing my favorite t-shirt and jeans.
Now I had to say some thing, and with out thinking I said, “Are you God”
And he burst in to Laughter,“I was expecting this question a long time ago, no I am not”
With a confused look I said, “Then, who are you?”
“I am your inner good; some may call me inner conscious other may regard me as soul”
He stood up, now holding a walking stick, while standing, he pushed all his weight on the stick and asked me again, “so why not you, what makes you so special?”
“I have so many responsibilities, my mother, Sister…….Saba” I stressed on Saba and he smiled like he already knew I was going to do that.
“They will live…”
“No” I cut him there “they will never be able to live with out me”
“Hmmmm, ok let me take you 2 months after your death and lets see what’s happening in their life”
Chapter 5: Family
And before I could say or do anything, I was in my own bedroom.
My Mom was there, sitting on my bed, holding a picture of mine in her hand, leaning on the bed side, eyes closed and a tear drop coming down her eye.
I was about to call her..
“Don’t waste your energy calling her, she will not hear you” he said with a firm look. “Just watch”
I noticed all of my things were removed from the room, the only thing same was the main furniture rest of the stuff was gone.
“Mama, you are again in this room” My sister came in the room, “you need to stop doing this” she said with a concerned look.
“How can I forget him, he was my only son” her voice became heavy and tears started slipping through her eyes.
“You see I told you she will never be ok” I wanted to just go and hold my mom and tell her, that I am ok , I am here.
“I don’t like this part either” he said like he read my mind “But wait a few more moments”
“You need to move on in life” my sister demanded. “I am managing this house, his firm and taking care of all the affairs, and to do this I need strength. Mama, I want you to be my strength” she requested. “He was my brother too, I miss him exactly the same”
“I am his mother, you don’t know how hard it is for me” voice still heavy.
“You are my mother too. You need to be my strength. It shatters my confidence and makes me weak when I see you crying like that. I want you to move on...for me, for us…. for our future. If you will keep crying over him, it’s not going to work.”
I saw my mom gather her strength as she wiped her own tears and said, “I will try my best”
My sister sat next to her and hugged her. “I will get this furniture removed too, and we will go out some where else for a while”
“Whatever you want my child, I don’t want to increase your misery and make your job even harder” my mother surrendered “I promise I will not cry again over him” she said that while sliding her hand over my picture. She put my picture on the side table face down. My sister holding my mother from shoulder guided her out of the room, at the door my mother turned gave a last look at the room like saying good bye and my sister closed the door and I heard the room getting locked.
“Thank God it’s over” he said with a sigh “very emotional but still, they will soon start their own life and it will be like you never existed before”
Chapter 6: Love
I was standing there as the realization hit me, he is right, no one will stop living, they will find their own way and means to support, live and move on. Saba, my mind was keep telling me Saba will never be able to get over me we have 6 years of history, she will be severely depressed. She can even commit suicide.
“Are you crazy? She won’t” Again he read my mind,“Let me get this thing out of your head too, but for this we need to see this in fast forward because of time constraint” He smiled jokingly as he waited for me to acknowledge the hidden meaning.
The very next moment I was in a theater hall, all the chairs empty except the two on which we were sitting. And right there on the screen it was Saba, crying, sitting right next a huge portrait of mine.
“This is going to be interesting”, He said with a smirk.
Next moment on the screen I could see the Living room of Saba, with Saba and her parents having tea. Saba looked different; her beautiful eyes lacked the usual mischievous spark and were instead covered in dark circles as if some one painted them on her. She looked pale as if some one has drained life out of her. Yet she looked extra ordinary and it reminded me how much I adore her.
“So what have you decided then?” her father asked with a hint of impatience, as if he has waited enough for her answer.
“I can’t see you like this, Beta, Life is like this” Her mother as she stroked her hair. "Here are the tickets /Passport and all the arrangements have been done , you are going “
She sat motionless without uttering a single word, like some one in deep thoughts.
She was in a plane now,
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign, and you may now move around the cabin. However we always recommend to keep your seat belt fastened while you’re seated” the speaker announced
She looked upward as if to ensure the sign was off, and unfastening the seat belt, from her purse under the front seat, she pulled out an envelope and a box. She opened the envelope and there was a card inside. She stared at the picture on the card it was a green field with blue sky and sun rays emerging from the center. The cover said, ‘New Beginnings’.
She opened the card and inside was the letter,
“Thank you for not opening the card and gift box earlier. Understanding your state of mind and knowing exactly what you are going through. I thought its better if I pen it down. Will definitely save both of us from embarrassment if things get to that. Your parents did not send you to Dubai for Sight-seeing only. They wanted us to meet and get to know each other.
There was a time when I use to think I cannot live without Mahira, without her my life would simply seize to exist. But it did not, it continued with the same flow.
Life is too short and doesn’t pause, neither should we."
“Hey mister that’s my girl , stay away” I shouted , Jealousy and helplessness both echoed through the theater with my voice.
She closed the card and looked at the box, as if she knew what was inside. She untied the light purple ribbon and opened it. Her face lightened with surpise as if she was wrong about the content of the box and she was happy she was.
Inside was a very pretty peacock pin (broche) with a small note that said
“I know I cannot be someone but I would request your time to see if I can be your someone”
Text appeared on screen saying “2 years later”
She was sitting in front of her dresser. A bride looking at her self in the mirror as if re assuring everything to perfection.
Somebody knocked on the door and a shrill voice came through. ”Saba, how long do you need? Everyone is waiting.”
She opened the drawer and there was his picture in a tiny frame.She took the frame in her hand, gave it an expression less look her straight face whispered, “Goodbye.” And she put the frame back in to the drawer, but this time face-down.
Screen went blank
“Such a great movie” He said and turned his face toward “Is there any one else you think whose life will end with you leaving the world”
Chapter 7: Finale
“Let’s get to the finale shall we” He said with stress on each word while supporting an evil grin.
Inside my mind a battle started I couldn’t make sense of any thing now, I couldn’t focus on what he was saying. So many questions......... Every thing I felt important was not important at all. What is important then?
“You know exactly what is important” He said, again reading my mind “Your mom reminded you every day”
“What is important? “ I asked.
“Any way you knew exactly what was important and yet you ignored it hope you are ready for the finale”
He grabbed my arm and everything around me started to spin fast and next moment we were standing on a cliff. I was on the edge of it, I looked down and found fire every where, I started to feel the heat and my forehead started to sweat.
And that very moment I realized what was important.
“Sherry did you offer Fajr, you are always awake at that time just pray before going for a jog it wont hurt” My mom’s melodious vice echoed in my ear.
“So naïve of you, you have not prepared, as expected wrong priorities.” He said in a very clerical tone while going through the book in his hand.
“There is absolutely nothing can we do to save you, have a great fall” and with that he handed me the book and pushed me from the edge.
I started falling down head first the heat became immense. I could here my own scream echoing far off from me. The light from flames got brighter and brighter, The very next momnet.
My head was spinning; my eyes felt a little heavy. It felt like I am waking up from a sleep of 16 hours. As soon as I opened my eyes the light came piercing so strong that my reflexes came in to action and my eye lids closed again. I moved my hand to cover my eyes but something was holding my hand back. I opened my eyes slowly this time, gave my eyes a little time to adjust with the light, which I realized was sun light coming from the front window.
Dream, Thank God Dream it was, I thought to my self.
I got discharged from hospital the same day, I had minor heat stoke and that’s it.
While waiting outside the hospital waiting for my mom to pick me up a taxi stopped in front me.
“Where do you want to go?” Taxi driver asked
The Same moment nearby Masjid Speaker roared, “Allah O Akbar “
And I told my self, I know exactly where I have always needed to go.