And the Doctor Left

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Short story...

By: Aabid Rehman Pala

On a dull morning in early October, when an obscure wave of restlessness had filled the environs of the university and sun was hanging over lazily as if forced to leave for the west, no bird could be seen chirping and rustling in the lawns and the pigeons on the minarets of Jamia Masjid had probably forgotten to fly. Students would whisper and murmur to each other but nobody had any clue.

“May God make the opposite of what we just heard”, one of the student with hands entwined at the back of his head was heard saying. “Don’t worry, it is just a rumour,” his friend replied to him as they ambled towards the library and disappeared through its reading rooms with hands of the later on the shoulders of the former like two friends walking on the Boulevard Road and enjoying the gusts of breeze from the Dal.

In the afternoon when the conformation came that the Doctor’s blood had been spilled in the bosom of the Himalayas, everybody was shell-shocked and the whole university came to a halt. Murmurs and whispers changed into moans and cries. Bravest of the brave student broke down and everybody gathered for condolence.

The streams of tears were clearly visible from their gloomy cheeks. Students were seen wiping the tears of each other. Just a blink would have flooded the face by the warm tears from the eyes which were eager to see nothing but the last glimpse of the beloved Doctor.

Exactly one year ago in a single storey white hostel of the varsity, Dar was enjoying the late monsoon rain. His wet hair and drenched shirt were indicating that he had just arrived from the department. He wiped his face, dried the hair and spread the towel outside the hostel room. In the park outside, few flowers had bloomed and a sweet whiff of the dust had filled the atmosphere.

“Here one doesn’t know which season is it. All seasons look alike as it is greenery every time. Unlike home where we have blooming springs, gushing summers, crimson autumns and snowy winters”, Dar said dusting his trousers as he made his way towards the hostel room.

“Anyways, we have to cook for one more person today,” he added.

“Why, who is coming”? Wata inquired.

“Doctor is coming to have dinner with us,” Dar said while combing his hair.

“So we have to cook for four people,” Wata muttered and left the room with a utensil, half filled with rice and a glass in it.

In the evening, half an hour after the Muazzin read the call for the evening prayer, the door was knocked triggering a smile on Wata’s face who had just finished cooking and ws now toying with his mobile phone.

The door swung open and an elegantly burly person dressed in casual clothes and black long boots. He had a beautiful short beard with long ginger hair resting on his shoulders. He was holding a book in one hand and cigarette in the other.

“Here is your book.” Doctor threw the book towards Dar which he failed to catch. He then threw himself on the bed and started dragging long puffs of cigarette.

The dinner was accompanied by a long discussion on politics and mostly Doctor spoke while others listened. He used to speak loudly like a confident political and historic lore having the cognizance of almost every political movement from Middle East to South Asia though that wasn’t his subject.

He was a humble person with immense knowledge which was reflected at the time when he used to discuss things with the fellow students. Perceiving the amount of knowledge and personality, nobody would have wished what he chose. But when you have knowledge, confidence and the cognizance of the things going around you, facts dominate your narrative.

Then in the ensuing winter, he left the varsity towards the hills and never came back. He left for home where he never reached. He roamed in the valleys day and night like a saint in some eternal yearning. He was hardly seen by anyone but everybody was concerned about him. The affinity and love among the people would never have let him go but he was the falcon of Iqbal who was supposed to fly over the hills. He was the saint who learned, taught and then slowly and stealthily disappeared into the snow clad mountains he often claimed to have come from.

Author is the student of English Literature at Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at [email protected]

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