Back inside his home, Ali returned the emptied plate to the kitchen sink where Mehwish stood washing the countertops. It was nice to see that Hassan’s father was eating, but it troubled Ali that he still continued to smoke. And on top of that, Hassan himself continued to chase the Green Darwaish.
Those thoughts were troublesome, but seeing his wife always made him smile. His children had been tucked into bed where they could sleep soundly. And with all in order, he finally had a moment that he could share alone with his dear wife.
He looked at her and his heart pounded as her large green eyes locked with his. He heard voices— the TV was still playing. But he wanted nothing to stand between the two at that moment. After a long day, he wanted to have time to devote to her as well.
But as he placed his hand on her shoulder, the sound of the TV grew louder. As much as Ali wished to drown it out, it was difficult to ignore. And even if he tried to forget about the noise alone, it was what the news anchors were saying that startled him most.
Mehwish paused. She understood her husband’s worry. The report was about tensions between Pakistan and India. The bickering had gone back and forth for long enough, but it had escalated to violence. Not wanting to stand and watch their soldiers fall, Pakistan decided to strike back.
Ali’s breathing grew thick and his eyes were wide. He said nothing, but to Mehwish, his expression alone explained more than any words could. She reached for the remote to turn off the TV. Her husband did so much for everyone around him. She believed freeing him from what tormented him was something small that she could give back to him.
As he dreamt, Ali was covered in sweat. Most nights had been getting better. It was rare for him to have so many nightmares any longer. But when something reminded him of the war— whether it was through mention of the past or hinting of the future —he was unable to sleep easily.
The images in his mind were like dark shadows. They were figments that he believed he had seen at some point in time. But now, they were all but lost in his memories. The faces and voices— Ali was uncertain if they were inventions of his dreams or memories that he tried to lock away.
He saw himself at the border. What began as an empty field full of trees and the chirping sound of birds turned to total chaos. Bullets shot past him. Instead of chirping, all he could hear were screams. As he took a step forward, he began to recognize the faces as colleagues. Every soldier he fought alongside was with him.
The stench was putrid. Ali coughed and covered his nose. Flames engulfed the forest and the fallen men around him turned charred. He felt helpless. No matter how he tried to reach out to each soldier, they were taken down by bullets, blades, or fire.
And amongst all of the horrors, he spotted a young boy kneeling on the ground crying. It was as if Ali’s heart had stopped beating. He wanted to reach out to the boy and tell him that all would be well. He wanted to rescue him and keep him safe. But in the situation they were in, he couldn’t promise anything.
Behind him, a voice screamed, “Kill him… kill him…”
Chest seizing, Ali looked behind but saw only decay. His colleagues had all fallen. And as his eyes wandered, he saw the flames surrounding him from all sides. He rushed to the boy. He wanted to know if he was safe. But before he could move another step, his body froze in place. He was unable to blink or breathe. And he was unable to scream.
Jolting awake, Ali checked his surroundings. He was at home in his bed, but after such a fright, his body was drenched in sweat. He needed fresh air and a moment to breathe. The way his heart pounded and beat out of his chest, Ali feared he wouldn’t be able to sleep at all.
Quietly, he stepped out to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water. Gulping down his glass, Ali exhaled. His hands shook as they leaned on the counter. Of all the nightmares he had, that was one of the worst— the vivid details were so frighteningly real, but he knew he had to come to his senses.
“It’s just a dream,” he whispered to himself.
Ali knew the reality of what happened so many years ago. It was so much more gruesome than he wanted to recall, but he knew it was nothing like the dream. What he dreamt of was fantasy. He tried to reassure himself of that so he could have another chance to fall asleep.
Before he could return to his bedroom, he heard the sound of frantic barking. A wild dog— or perhaps many —were traveling through the cold night. As much as Ali wished to learn the cause of their commotion, his fastbeating heart could take no more.
He tried to talk to himself to ease his mind. It was not uncommon for dogs to run through the nearby forests. With how dense and far the trees stretched back, all sorts of life lurked within. He wanted to tell himself that it was no cause for concern. Ali knew that if he didn’t, he truly would get no sleep at all.
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.