The caged Dove

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Short story...

By : Mushtaq Hurra

Gafoor was breathing his last in his deathbed when, in a frail voice he called both his children- Irfana and Azhar- closer to him and said, “Daughter Irfana, my time is over, take care of your younger brother after me”. With these words, Gafoor closed his eyes forever.

Irfana was crying, wailing and cursing her luck as she had already lost her mother some six years ago and now her father’s death shattered her life. Mourning and crying was her fate.  Now, all the load of the family was on her tender shoulders and she decided to quit her studies and picked up her mother’s half-broken spinning wheel from the attic of their mud house. She began working hard in order to send her brother to the best possible school of the area.

Irfana was spending long hours on the spinning wheel besides other domestic chores like cooking, cleaning, sweeping etc. Young Azhar, a sensitive and a shy boy, was very sharp in studies. He always stood first in the school. He was in the good books of all his teachers. Everyone had a firm belief in him. He was the prodigy of the village.

Young Azhar was the apple of her sister’s eyes. He was watching her Dee Dee working hard and facing hardships happily. He was well aware of the sacrifices and miseries of his sister.  ” Dee Dee, I will erase every grief and sorrow from your life “. He used to console her sister in his toddler voice.

With the passage of time, Azhar kept shining in the school.He was now a grownup boy, toiling hard to fulfill the dream of his sister. He passed the matriculation examination with flying colors. Now,  Irfana’s real test began. ” Irfana Dee Dee, I have to join the coaching institute but I have to deposit a sum of rupees twenty thousand in advance there”. Azhar asked very innocently.

” Don’t worry my brother, I have saved some money in this piggy bank. She at once broke the piggy bank and asked Azhar to help her to count the amount”.Both of them set on the task and after some fifteen minutes, Azhar said to her, ” Dee Dee, it is seven thousand five hundred and you ” . Said Azhar. Irfana kept mum and went on to count. ” I have eight thousand five hundred fifty rupees ” . Replied Irfana.Azhar took a deep sigh, probably arranging  the remaining four thousand rupees was a Herculean job for them.

” I will arrange the remaining four thousand rupees by tomorrow morning, Insha-Allah, You need not to worry “. Irfana said to her brother, Azhar. Next morning, Irfana went to the village head’s house and asked to lend her rupees four thousand. The village head was very pious and generous. He at once opened his almirah and gave her rupees four thousand. Irfana returned back home quickly and asked Azhar to leave for the city coaching centre.

Irfana was now working for longer hours to pay off the debt she had taken from the village head.Two years passed by and Azhar was now eligible to appear in the common entrance test as he had passed his class 12th examination.

” Dee Dee, I have cracked the common entrance test, I am now eligible to take admission in the medical college. This was a dream coming true for Irfana. Her eyes turned moist. She embraced her brother and began to weeping bitterly. It was the outburst of her emotions.

Finally, Azhar reached  in the campus of the government medical college Srinagar to join in as an MBBS student.Irfana was facing all the hardships very happily as she was sighting a bright and comfortable future ahead.She was yearning many dreams, like her own marriage, her brother’s marriage, a good looking and comfortable house etc…

Her dream was almost a reality now, Azhar had completed his internship. He was all set to begin his practice at a private hospital. Deedee, (Bahe drassey) I’m leaving. Irfana’s joy knew no bounds, she kissed the forehead of her brother and bade adieu to him. That day, Azhar was looking admirably fabulous in the black outfit. In the evening, when Azhar didn’t return home in time, Irfana grew anxious and rang up his number multiple times. To her utter surprise, the phone was switched off. Meanwhile, someone called up Irfana and told her that an unidentified corpse was lying in the mortuary of the city hospital. This news broke her back and in a semiconscious state of mind, she managed to reach the city hospital. With trembling legs and numb feet she entered the mortuary room and came out quite relieved and relaxed to identify the corpse as someone else. She left the hospital with a hope that her brother would come back very soon.

Days, months and years kept passing. Irfana had almost visited all the hospitals of the state but there was no clue of his brother, Dr. Azhar.She had got registered a missing report in the nearby police station as well.Despite untiring efforts, police too failed to trace Dr. Azhar.

Now, Irfana was quite hopeless and hapless.She had turned weak.She was in her late thirties but the deception and treachery of her brother had made her look like a septuagenarian woman. Her hair had turned grey.The wrinkles on her face and her sunken eyes were vividly narrating her ordeal. She was cursing her fate.She had refused and turned down many marriage offers for the sake of her brother. Ironically, her brother was a snake-let in the guise of a lamb.

Another ten years passed by, and now she was waiting for the death. “How could my brother be so callous, how can he forget me like this. Dee Dee was in his every breath. He can’t leave me like this. He must have been killed or taken to a distant land by some unknown dacoits. He can’t live without me”. She was grumbling one night while recounting her time spent with his brother. But poor Irfana was too innocent to understand the modernization and the crooked mentality of newer generation.

One morning when all the villagers went to their respective fields and there was big hustle-bustle of harvest season in the village, no one noticed the closed door of Irfana’s two roomed raw house. It was her next door neighbor, Muglee who went to her door and called her out very loudly. Irfana was not in a position to open the door. She replied in a weak tune, ” Break the door, and take me out to a  hospital “. Muglee began to cry loudly, she was striking her chest with her hands. The hue and cry caught the attention of some nearby men who rushed into the house by breaking the door of the house.

Irfana was lying in a her shabby looking bedding. Some elderly women of the Mohalla took her out and she was taken to the city hospital. Muglee went to the nursing chamber, and crying worriedly,   ” Sister, sister, the patient is very critical “. The worried request of Muglee striked the ears of the newly appointed director of the hospital who was about to attend an administrative meeting in his chamber.The cries of Muglee moved her heart and he at once went to attend the patient.

Irfana was very critical and the sight of the doctor before her eyes, filled a wave of happiness and energy into her nerves. She tried to stand up from her bed but failed miserably. Her trembling voice could utter a single phrase only, ”  Azhar, you ! ( Azu Tche) .” Her tongue froze and she could not speak further. Her sunken were at her brother’s face, as she wanted to embrace him after the painful separation of longer years.  Alas! She could only gaze at her brother’s face and met her eternal fate with her eyes open.

Inna-Lillahi Wa-Inna illaahi Raaji-oon.

The writer is a teacher, Columnist, Poet, Orator and a Social activist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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