The Flood part II
With two backpacks fully loaded with God knows what, he came out and stood before me. He dropped his load and I shouldered one. My imaginations were caught in the wild shock of eddy where my senses and sensitivities were in their standard parlance disclosing my deprecatory fancy. The backpack seemed lighter than the cargo I was shipping on my nervous nerves.
“Can I make it?” I asked myself.
The one who is known for his apolaustic nature has to bear coquetry of his paramour for certain grounds. I was deeply moved by my act of charity. Maybe it was too early to praise myself. Whatever it is, but one thing seemed certain that my sentiments had asked for too much that day. My determination had for so many reasons many a time saved me from mutilation and I was once again out to prove it.
“What are you thinking”, Basharat asked.
“Nothing, I am a bit worried”, I responded.
“God is with us”, he assured.
Our steps were brisk before the first encounter with flood water at Eidgah road that slowed our pace. The road dividing Eidgah and Narwara was brimmed up to the footpaths. Beating this hurdle was easy.
“These daughters are too crazy”, Basharat announced.
“But how”, I simply asked.
His words congealed on his lips. His silence was strange. He was trying to share something that was circulating in his blood, but privacies matter and I was not indecent to scratch his skin too deep.
“Aba jan has three sons and a daughter”, he declared. His declaration had a well noticed sarcasm in it.
“What is bad in having three sons and a daughter”, I asked.
He heaved a long sigh and then stopped. Unburdened his shoulders and placed his backpack on the pavement. I copied him. We had started from Bagh-i- Ali Mardan Khan where our team had established a relief camp for flood victims at Zadibal Higher Secondary School.
“The eldest is at UAE along with his family”, Basharat informed.
“That is pretty good”, I responded.
“No, nothing is good. He should have been here with him”, he shouted.
I sensed the trouble. But the trouble on the roads was more severe. A group of people at Qamarwari Chowk were trying their best to feed a half dead cow that was by a stroke of luck pushed to the ghat and was being treated. I lowered my bag and Basharat unpacked his backpack to feed the cow with fresh water. He tried to push the plastic bottle between her teeth, but the cow lost the fight. It was the first jolt we received. Leaving behind the dead animal, the trouble was waiting for us. From Qamarwari Chowk to Bemina square, fifteen dead cows had blocked the road. The stench was too sharp to prevent. It was enough to pull everything out of the guts. My legs stopped, they lost the strength. For the first time I felt my two legs like two dead bamboo sticks, lifeless and insignificant, carrying a dead mass to the unknown destination.
To plug the nostrils was the only choice to move on. I undone my shirt, wrapped it around the face to prevent the unpleasant smell. It worked partially. It started from ankle to the sternum as we finally stopped at Degree College Bemina. The rush was furious; it seemed the flood water had already occupied the benches once meant for the aspirants.
“Just two lanes more, my dear just two lanes”, Basharat pleaded.
What all I could do was to hide my physical exertion and the pain my legs were suffering because of the chill the water was carrying along.
He perhaps read the draft of my face and blandly announced, “Don’t worry I have already dropped the message at your home.” The news soothed me. The chill down the legs was unbearable. The water in the lane touched my chin. We could only see each other’s heads. The bags were added frustration, but then the motive was to drop the bags and move back, so bags were more essential than our bodies.
“Can you call at your brother-in-law to carry these bags from here”, I asked.
His head moved here and there, when he noticed emptiness in the lanes, he whispered, “Aba jan and my mother-in-law live alone.”
His whisper perforated my submerged chest. My legs moved briskly and I surpassed him as if I knew the house I had to knock. God knows why I stopped at a door and an elderly lady came rushing down to open it. Without any hesitation she took my bag and in the next moment dropped it down, but I rescued it for I only knew the value of it and the pain I encountered with. Her face had put up all the sadness of the world when she spotted Basharat. The way she held my bag, I realised how much needful she was, but seeing her son-in-law, her self-importance seemed more than her needs. “Need cannot be so ordinary to bear it for mere esteem”, I muttered. How can a man under such circumstances be so brutal to himself? She might have never expected Basharat to come to her rescue despite the fact she had her three sons well settled beyond her reach.
“How are you, mother, and how is Aba Jan?” Basharat asked.
“He is my friend who has accompanied me”, Basharat introduced me.
She denied the response, her silence was serious. She struggled to speak, but her eyes were submerged in her own flood, destroying her consciousness, her will power and of course, her confidence. Her eyes peeped down my spine, maybe she was trying to find her son in my frame. Her agony infused a new pulse into my frozen limbs. I was no more exhausted, but energetic. A mother only knows how to give birth to a child. It was certainly my rebirth as a son of a mother who had three, but none to save. I saw in her eyes a glimpse of my own mother. She readily accepted my flow and took my bag and moved in slowly. Sometimes eyes speak better than tongue and she could read my eyes and I too in her eyes located my love.
She had perhaps given up.
Basharat guided me to the second story of the house wherein, an elderly man was lying on the bed looking here and there; perhaps he was anticipating what all the fathers on the death bed expect. Expectation after all is an uncured ail.