In This City by Shaherbano Rai

Thursday, April 13, 2017 KELS 0 Comments Category :

Won 2nd Position in KELS annual Story Writing Competition

(The dilemma of urbanization) 
There stood Muhammad Baksh, wiping streams of sweat from his forehead. The scorching heat of the day and the turmoil of lifting bricks, shifting cement and climbing floors had tired him to the core. Dusk it was, and he was about to finish his work and turn back to those slums where he had been living for a year. Taking his wages, he turned back to traverse the stony pathway. ‘The stony pathway' lead by the rustles and gusts of memories that took him miles back where he could listen to the chatters of his daughter Fatima and hold  his young Abdullah in his arms, cherishing moments of fatherly affection with them. The appetizing odor of  home-cooked food and fresh butter spreading all around. The bitter reality broke the spell of fantasy, as it always does and there he was at the doorstep of his dwelling. The time, it had taken away from him the smell of soil when it is first cultivated, the chirping of birds which resonates as a sweet song at dawn break. The time, 'the ruthless time' had brought him amidst those broken glass pieces as if they were presenting shattering memories of his past.
     He opened the door of his dwelling, wondering in the waves of his emotions, searching for a 'Fatima' to come rushing to him and cling to his arms. He would make a dire desire to hold the little fingers of his young Abdullah. He would wish to see the face of his wife beaming with joy, at least once.Alas,he thought to himself. The city couldn't offer him that. He would quietly look at the few rupees held in his hands."What a price!!",he thought to himself.
"The relish of these memories can't spare me”, he thought as he lay on his floor bed. Another rush of reminiscence took him back, back to the time he used to harvest crops as a young boy. Rambling the fields, smelling the dust, driving the tractor, harvesting the crops, hearing 'Azaan' from the minarets and sitting in the shade of old Oak listening to the village folk. A movie started in his mind, a scene after another and his life began to slip away. Then the day, the day he had to say 'goodbye' because the crops couldn’t yield him enough to feed his young ones. Strange the paradox seemed to him, "the one harvesting to feed everyone around lets his children sleep with empty bellies!”
    With the new dawn, as he walked through the streets and saw children carrying backpacks, walking joyfully to their schools, a silent tear rolled down his cheek.
   Couldn't his village be 'offered' a school and his children an education?? Couldn't his crops yield him enough to at least payback his sweat? The clamour of the city began to deafen his ears with questions that were left unanswered for years.
     "The tall plazas, the roaring roads, the noisy traffic, the rushing malls, the 'grand' schools,  the profuse food, the entertainment hubs,....." he thought, "what could he be offered?" With cracking despair in his eyes he looked back at the slums he had walked through and the money he had in his pocket! 
      The sorrow of his partition was yet a story untold! His eyes could speak of it