Parking in his garage, Ali looked at his garden. He recalled the rose bush bloomed every Spring and seldom in the Autumn. Though it was far too cold, he wished to see those vibrant red petals once more. He knew they were his wife’s favorite and he loved seeing the way her cheeks would blush that same shade of red.
He walked back to the barn, eyeing up the bush. He told himself that the very first bloom of Spring would be a gift he would give to Mehwish. For being his beautiful wife, he wished to give her something to remind her of how dear she was to his heart.
Opening the barn door, he first checked on the young deer. His horse had already begun to rest for the night and the dense forest by his home was quiet. The silent night and cold chilling air were calming to Ali, but he had to worry about the animal in his care.
Checking the wound, the sutures were holding up and the gash appeared to be healing. The deer’s breathing was shallow, but he was still asleep— resting and regaining his strength. Ali brought water for him to drink for when he awoke and rose to return to his home.
Just as he exited the barn, Ali heard a faint thump against the wood. He looked down to see a rabbit inching towards him. Ali bent down and extended his hand, inviting her to come forward. She was skittish, but Ali’s movements were still and she chose to trust him.
As he watched the rabbit come near, he noticed four sets of tiny eyes behind her. The rabbit’s children had joined her. Ali smiled as he returned to the barn to rummage through his store of carrots. The mother rabbit was the first to approach him and soon after, the young bunnies hopped into Ali’s lap.
Moments like those filled Ali with joy. To be able to give and help all of God’s creatures, it was what made life so precious in his eyes. He looked back to the deer. It broke his heart knowing that such a young animal was in such pain. But just as he had always done, Ali believed he would give whatever he could to help.
Rabia rolled the dice— a four. She cheered, exclaiming aloud as she moved her token up the ladder and to the final one-hundredth square. After three consecutive wins of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, Ali never grew tired of seeing the joy on his daughter’s face. He’d spend the whole night playing board games with his children if he could, but he knew each of them needed to be well-rested for the morning.
Taking his son into his lap, Ali guided Sami’s hand to allow him to roll the dice. As his token reached the goal, it was time to wrap up the game for the night. Ali patted his daughter on the head as she gloated about her victory and he turned to his wife who walked slowly into the room.
“My mom called,” she said, “I think she is right. What is left in Pakistan? You work so hard but your salary is so low. Over in America, we can have good treatment for Sami. Our future is going to get better. We don’t even live in the city. We are living in Kashmir. It is dark and lonely and I don’t feel comfortable.”
Ali was silent as he listened to his wife, “The conditions here aren’t nice anymore. The schools are not safe. The food and medicine are not pure. The hospitals don’t provide good care and there are robberies. And… from what I have read in the newspaper… my heart pounds in fear that you or Rabia won’t come home.”
Before she could say another word, there was a knock on the door. Judging by the pattern— two knock, a pause, and three more knocks —she knew exactly who it was. Her breathing and voice became more frantic as she continued to speak.
And you’re in the habit of always helping everyone.”
She walked back to the kitchen mumbling to herself as she gathered food onto a plate, “I never see anyone helping you, but you help everyone. With medical bills and our children’s schooling, how will we manage when you give so much of your salary away?”
The way she felt was something Ali had known for a long time, but it was only recently that she expressed it in her own words. Seeing her distress, Ali knew what he needed to do. He took the plate and placed it onto the table. With his eyes locked of hers, he smiled at his wife.
“Okay. I understand. I’m ready.”
Taking a moment to gaze up at him, Mehwish’s petal-like lips grinned. She exclaimed, “You’re the best! I love you!”
Ali smiled back at her, but she hid her face shyly behind her hands, “I’m sorry I’ve spoken so much today.”
It was her sweet nature that drew him in most. Mehwish had a gentle heart, but most of all, she worried greatly for her family. And in turn, Ali did not wish to worry her. If there was something he could do for her, he would do it without question.
He touched her shoulder, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”
After hugging his wife, he took the plate and went to the door. Moving away from Kashmir meant that there would be many that he would need to leave behind. And because of all that he gave, there were many who depended on Ali for help. But he knew that there were those in need everywhere in the world.
Outside of his home sat an old man with a cigarette in his mouth. As Ali approached him, he shook his head and plucked the cigarette away. In its place, Ali offered the man a plate of food instead. What he needed was to regain his strength and smoking would only damage him further.
Ali sat beside the man who began to pray, “You are a nice man, Ali. God will give you everything. You will see one day.”
Hearing those words made him smile, “Thank you, sir. How is Hassan? How is your son doing?”
But the old man turned sullen, “As usual, he’s left for the mountains.”
Raising his head to view the towering trees of the forest, worry-filled Ali’s mind. The way the snow fell, he knew it would be unsafe to travel such roads at night. But after what Hassan had said at the tea shop, he knew that nothing would change the man’s mind. All he could do any longer was to pray.
Qalandar, Earth Needed A Superhero. © Copyright 2019 by Fraz Ahmed. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Disclaimer : –
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.