Mushtaque B Barq

The plastered wall

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It was a dazzling daybreak; clouds had long been engulfed by azure sky, leaving the upside down bowl of majestic vastness appear like a master piece.  All was set. We were a bit early out there to water the back wall of our old house that was to be plastered that morning.

There was a strong stimulation to plaster the wall that was about to fall into pieces and was damaged beyond repairs. The task seemed easier and we were shifting the old logs from backyard to safer place only to ensure free movement for the labourers.

Water splashed all over, it appeared that the old bricks had never been quenched, the old blocks of baked clay absorbed a lot of water and then we stopped to satiate them further because water had already spoiled the path and garden.

A sweet music echoed from the bricks like a symphony at a concert. The wall looked majestic and fresh copious with a mesmerized hiss. All this lost for half an hour till a cluster of birds came out and started to observe the wall.

Their nests had long been washed down. They were protesting, protest invalidated the earlier echo and now the chirping was intense. These flying machines were guarding their nests and were narrating pain of losing their nests.

The laborers finally started to apply more water which compelled these little guests to surrender. They did, indeed, but a constant chirping brought us out to observe the situation. Yes, these little birds were annoyed, but then we ignored. Although, sighs, regret and sad expressions were the gestures human face could only put on to ignore the voice.

A five year old boy could hardly endure the suffering of the birds; he rushed to his grandfather and tried to plead him to stop the work. Grandfather was unmoved. The boy tried to persuade his father who too hardly paid any attention and asked the boy to be indoors.

The little boy moved sadly, opened the window in the second story of the adjustcent house and kept gazing at the sky occasionally and the few birds that were still hopeful to regain their fort, but they had only a remote hope, nothing they could do to stop the army to leave their fort for mercy means.

As the plaster was pasted on the wall, every lump of the cement would bruise the little heart monitoring at the window.                 Like little birds, his hope too exhausted and he closed the window.

“Do birds and insects have right to live on the earth? Don’t they have legacy to live on the earth that belongs to God”, the boy kept asking. His voice was feeble like the occasional chirp of a sparrow that was still hoping to regain its fort. All that the little bird could afford was to wait till its entrance be sealed once for all.

Half of the wall till after noon was plastered and the little bird was still perched on the sill of a window of a neighboring house. The labourers were working hard to finish the assigned work before the dusk and they had almost changed the topography of the wall. The scaffold was raised before a day, ropes and stairs were fixed properly to ensure the safety. But the little boy was too much annoyed with these labourers and every time he gazed at the bird, he was uttering his choicest curses which on one occasion almost turned into reality as one of the labourers almost had a fall before his hand found a bamboo pole to save himself.

At dusk, the finishing touch session started and the wall before the boy was ready to face the wrath of everyone. Tools were collected and bamboo poles removed, the little boy who all the day was cursing one and all once again raised his eyes to observe the little sparrow on the sill, but to his surprise, the little bird had already left. His face had all the crimson colour of the cosmos on, his eyes had the hell fire well in place, his nostrils were contracting and expanding like a wounded lion , his forehead had all the haphazard lines of confusion well visible. He was there like a devil to ruin entire human populace, and his little heart was throbbing ruthlessly for no one could read his volumes. He felt isolated and dejected amidst of his family and loving parents. His eyes were curiously peeping down every member of his family and he could see everyone had a big heart, sizably gigantic, but very little space for compassion. He peeped down in his own valley, found it extensively wide jeweled with green meadows and fresh water streams without fencing or raised stone bunds. His valley seemed open to all, no wall at all, from everywhere sky would be visible, no towers or skyscrapers, the moon would appear bright and brilliant, an extension of Majestic Vastness.

At the night, the little boy once again came out to see if he could locate the little bird, but there was nothing on the sill. The boy smiled and understood that God’s earth is large enough to hold a bird. His smile had pulled down all the walls of world, for him the world seemed endless. Amidst of this development, in the back of his mind, the echo of human limitations was vibrant. The plaster wall before him was a mere depiction of a plastered mind of a human being, living within the walls of his own creation, inhaling within the walls of his own dale and managing his limitations within his own plastered house guarded by steel gates and grills.

“The bird is but free, no wall can stop the wings to beat and kiss the azure vast, no plaster can seal a nest of a bird, indeed within the human mind, no bird can ever live”, he muttered.

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