Monday, November 26, 2012

Waiting: a story of love, sacrifice, and regrets

Please join me in welcoming today's guest poster, Lubaina Ehsan of Pakistan. She blogs at When it Rains, and took time from her studies to share this story. In her words, “It's about something that typically happens in Pakistan as the youngsters shift to cities our go abroad to pursue higher education, leaving their parents behind.” Enjoy.


The mud-bricked homes set as close as Lego pieces, illuminated by the full moon, it was a quiet tribe in interior Sindh, known for its date supplies to the city of Karachi. A short owl hoot could be heard in the stillness of the night, a sudden chirp of the crickets breaking through the quiet that engulfed the area, one could see stray dogs roaming in the fields surrounding the living quarters as everybody slept soundlessly. At that moment, it did not matter to him what place or time it was, he did not notice the fireflies in the bush next to him where he stood, all that mattered to him was the money he was clutching tightly in his fists. His earning for the month after working at the tribal elder’s home as a cook, this money was the concluding piece to the mighty tower of sending his son to the city for his studies.

His son was the only one he could call is own, his sole support. He lost his wife and two daughters in the flood that hit their tribe’s village two years ago in the year 2010. Now, his son was old enough to fend for himself in the city of Karachi and pay his tuitions for pursuing his Bachelors from a renowned University in Karachi. He was glad that they had a college and school near by where his son had completed his intermediate education and he had to part with him not sooner than the coming week. Now, he had the money to pay for the fares of his son’s travel and his initial accommodation and semester fee. The thought of seeing the light of his eyes all settled comfortably in Karachi and calling in his father who has always wanted to experience city life made the man smile as he pulled aside the curtains to his entrance and stepped in. His son will soon hear the good news.

“I’ll let you know the specifics for the seminar by tomorrow, only the timings have to be sorted out”, I answer my assistant over the phone as I speed towards my bungalow situated in a comfortable town of Karachi. As I park the car in the porch I can see Hassan, my two-year old son, peeking out the window. It’s his birthday today and he knows that his dad will come home with presents. I pull out the wrapped boxes from the trunk of the car and enter my home. “Daddy!” cries Hassan as he jumps at the sight of all the gifts. A suddenly nostalgia grips me; Hassan’s happiness reflects my joy as father had entered home with the money to send me to Karachi eleven years ago and I probably have the same special smile that father had that night. His smiles were mainly lost after mother, Aliya and Aisha passed away. He must be really alone these days. I make a mental note to plan a visit to the village pretty soon, I take out my cell phone to call father but just then my wife calls me in the kitchen to finalize the guest list for Hassan’s birthday party. Call to father can wait.

It has been eleven years now, he lays on his bed which is creaking even beneath his light weight staring blankly at the only frame on the wall which has his family’s picture. He pulls up his blanket as a chilly wind blows in the room, he has to get up and make tea to soothe his shivering self but he feels devoid of all energy. Due to his old age he can’t work at the fields anymore, he still works as a cook; a job he had taken up years ago to get the financial backup for getting Ali settled in the city. He knows Ali will visit one day and call him to stay at Karachi, it’s just that his son is caught up with all the work these days. The bulb in the room throws dark shadows across the walls, light falls on the telephone at his bedside just as it rings, he picks up the phone from the cradle with shivering hands and recognizes the voice on the other end. “Abbu* jaan, it’s me Ali” tears roll down the old man’s cheeks, he is listening to Ali’s voice after three months now. “Abbu are you there? I’ll be visiting you tomorrow with my wife and little Hassan. Hassan wants to meet his grandfather” the old man smiles. He has found bliss.

I have cancelled my meetings in the coming week, I need to visit my tribe’s village that I took to going only once in the past eleven years. I just got a call from our tribal elder, it was sad news. It’s funny how one realizes the importance of something only when one has lost it. I lost my father last night. Yes, I lost the man who had brought me up and made sure I was living a good life while he had to face the hardships of an elderly life without the support of his family at the village. He died with a blanket in the hot night of June. He was down with pneumonia since a week now, the medicines given to him by the tribal elder remained sealed in his cupboard. He had the phone’s receiver in his hand as he passed away, even though I was told that the phone lines of the village were dead since the past two weeks. I wish I had called him to live with me in the city. I wish.
Thanks, Lubaina for being with us today. We look forward to seeing you in the 2013 challenge!
- Tina


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh, that's so sad!

Shannon Lawrence said...

How very sad. A powerful piece. Thank you for sharing with us.

Konstanz Silverbow said...

The power behind these words are unstoppable. It is sad but the writing is beautiful.

Thank you for sharing!

~Konstanz Silverbow

Arlee Bird said...

A beautiful and poignant story of love and sacrifice. Thank you Lubaina.

Tossing It Out

Lubaina E. said...

Seeing the comments made my day :)
Thank you Alex, Shannon, Konstanz and Lee.

Well yes, I had tried my best to put in powerful emotions to make the youngsters realise the value of the two most important people; Mom n Dad. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. what a great guest post by Lubaina - such an evocative tale and so so sad ... so many strands here .. thanks for sharing with us.

I quite agree Tina - I hope Lubaina will join us in the next A:Z ... with thoughts Hilary

MS said...

Striking. Brilliant work Lubs! :)

Tina said...

Thanks again for taking the time to be with us, Lubaina. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Nicely written.
Tina @ Life is Good

Lubaina E. said...

Thank you Hilary. well at times what goes on around us inspires us to write :)
Yes, hopefully i'll be taking part in the next A-Z. Looking forward to it :D

MS-Thank youuu! ^_^

Tina-Thank YOU for providing me an opportunity to guest post. :)

♥●• İzdihër •●♥ said...

sad :(.

Visit my blog, every one:

Ifrah Ishfaq said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes :(.Heart touching and brilliant piece of writing.Keep it up!!