Short Story based on this picture.
The picture was clear to me. Stark, black and white but clear. There was me in it: a happier, much younger version of me. I wore a turban on my head along with my work clothes and carried Chanda: my daughter, on my shoulders like I use to, a long time back.
She was four years old, as old as I last saw her. She sat comfortably with both her legs hanging around my neck and my head held in her baby arms. There was something in the way she rested her head on mine that made her seem weary yet confident. Like she knew, her Abbu would get her home somehow, anyhow.
She wore her best dress, the pant suit that I bought for her for Eid. The dress was tad expensive by our standards. However, festivals had always made me splurge.
Bit by bit, the picture grew a life and turned into a scene/ a sequence. On difficult nights, this was a dream that I lived. A dream, that never lasted for long, just about enough to bring me the taste of my past, of what I lost.
Crumpled was my life. Folded and creased endlessly. I was broke and homeless, without a friend or a foe. No one cared, none bothered. Oh, I received a lot of those pitiful glances, those careless looks. Each set of eyes worried to rest on me. I was frightened of the freight in their eyes.
It was a dark silent night, one of the worst kinds, with no stars out. You had nothing to look up to, nothing to shine on you. And you wake up from a sweet dream to bitter cold. Morning would bring rain..!
Incessant rain drops would pour down, soaking you, crowding you, drowning you. I shuddered and tried to move to a comfortable sitting position, unsuccessfully. I was not alone. Under a lamp post, on a deserted by lane, I had street dogs for company. And a few other castaways like me. Some of them had not moved for days. And then there were others, who blabbered late into the night.
I hated the street and I hated everyone around it, including myself. I wanted to run away. But, where would I go? I was a man, old before my time. I was dead alive. My past murdered my present and my future died in quick reaction.
Everywhere that I went, memories reached me. Memories shuffled me like a pack of cards. It connected me to a past, I would much rather live and not dream about. A time, when I had a tiny but cozy home, a small but fertile farm land and most importantly, a wife and a four year old daughter: Chanda.
My recurring dream was my sole solace, where I was a hero. In my delusions, I carried Chanda to safety, where she would be alive. I protected Chanda like a father should have, like I never could.
The incessant rain and that furious flood took everything away from me. It left me guilty. Guilty of guilt that I was safe, I was alive when my wife and daughter were not. I was not there with them in death. I was away on my weekend trip to the city. Three hundred miles away-I was tucked in a warm blanket-when flood hit my village-wiping clear my life. It left me bereft of home, family and essence.
It started to rain again, fading the picture of my past from my mind. 'Chanda, my dear daughter, wait for me, wait for your Abbu. Abbu’s coming for you…'. I was blabbering ~
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