Despite how tired he felt, Ali was at the mosque at the crack of dawn. Hearing the sound of azan breathed life back into him. And after the night he had, it was truly needed. It was hard to shake the panicked feeling out of his chest. As he walked home, the thought of the baby deer was what calmed him and helped him continue forward.
As he reached his barn, he noticed something scurrying through the bushes. The figure was much too large to be a hare. And judging by the way the hooves clopped, Ali had a feeling he knew who exactly had come to check on the new animal in his care.
He held his hand out for the mother deer. She was far too frightened of people to come near, but he knew what would ease her worry. Rushing into the barn, he noticed right away that the young deer was up on his feet, prancing in anticipation. Soon he would be reunited with his mother and Ali was thankful that he allowed such events to occur.
Removing the bandage, Ali gave the baby deer one last check before he swung the stall door opened and allowed the animal to run towards his mother. Still, the older deer was skittish. With the way Ali had found her child, it was no wonder that she would fear humans. But he wanted to give her faith.
The baby deer’s legs were still weak despite his eagerness. Ali carried him as he struggled to stand on his own four legs. Seeing the man once more, the mother deer backed away, awaiting what he may do. Hearing her frantic cries, he wished to allow the two to get back together soon.
Helping the young animal to his feet, Ali backed away and watched as the mother caressed her child. As the little deer limped and fell to the ground, the mother was there to nudge him back to his feet and help him return with her into the forest. After a short struggle, the two disappeared out of sight into the dense trees.
It was mesmerising for Ali to watch how delicate life could be. Had he not found the young deer by the road, he feared what outcome may have occurred. And the thought of the two being unable to frolic through the forests saddened him. He wanted all life to live to its fullest.
But as he watched the sweet moment, a strained whinny caught his attention. The hoofsteps he heard this time were far larger and quicker than that of any deer.
His heart pounded as he rushed back inside the barn. He feared something had happened to his horse.
Seeking the source of the kicking hooves and frantic neighs, Ali ran to Tiger and placed a hand on the animal’s back. He checked the floor of the barn, worrying that a snake had made its way inside and was planning to attack. But as he sifted through the hay with a long stick, he found nothing.
“Calm down, Tiger,” he said, “There’s nothing here that will harm you.”
Despite his words, the horse continued to thrash and rip his muzzle away from the rope. Seeing the fibers breaking, Ali attempted to hold onto Tiger to keep him from escaping the pen, but it was to no avail. The horse snapped the rope before he could reach him and Tiger was barreling out of the barn towards the forest.
Ali chased after his beloved horse and called his name, but what he received in return was no answer. His own speed couldn’t match that of the trained stallion. He watched as his horse disappeared behind a veil of trees. His heart sank as he feared Tiger was injured.
But his eyes turned to the rising sun in the sky. Rabia needed to go to school. And he himself needed to leave for work. In all of his years at the factory, he had never shown up late. Even if it were for his horse, he couldn’t risk anything happening to his family and his job.
He shook his head, “He will come back. He knows his way home. Something only scared him. All will be well.”
The worry on Ali’s face was evident as he stepped through the front door of his home. Mehwish paused as she stood in the kitchen doorway. She knew her husband’s heart was too large for even himself to contain. For him to have such a sullen expression, she knew something wasn’t right.
But he said nothing. He pushed forward just as if it were any other moment. As Rabia finished eating her breakfast, the two set off for the door to catch the bus. Mehwish respected that Ali gave so much for his family, but she feared that he was sacrificing pieces of himself in the process.
Ali, too, knew that it weighed on his mind that Tiger was lost in the cold. His heart was pounding with guilt but seeing Rabia’s smiling face as she greeted the neighbors, he couldn’t bear to bring his family into the same state of worry. That was a burden he wished to carry himself.
A loud bark startled Ali from his thoughts. The neighbors were approaching but along with them came their tiny dog Tommy— a ball of fluff and energy. He smiled as he saw the group. He knew that Rabia often liked to play with the dog when she visited her friend. But from the way Tommy snarled his teeth, he knew that something was amiss.
“Tommy!” Hiba cried, “What’s wrong!?”
Rushing to the girl’s side, he backed her away from Tommy who hung low to the ground as if he meant to attack. His perky ears flattened back against his head and the hairs on his tail stood up like he was a balloon about to burst. In all the years that his neighbor had their small dog, he had never behaved so violently.
“I don’t know what’s happened,” Fariha cried, “He’s never done this before. Ali, is he sick?”
There was no foam in the dog’s mouth from what Ali could tell. But he couldn’t rule out the possibility of rabies. And if that were the case, he had to think of the lives of those around him. He instructed each of them to stay back and avoid the dog that snarled and snapped at them.
It was as if a lightswitch had gone off in the dog’s mind. And just like Ali’s beloved horse, the dog sprinted to the forest where he was lost out of sight. The coincidence was too large to dismiss. Two animals both behaving so erratically was something Ali wished to fully understand. He had to worry that such events would continue.
Though, turning to Hiba and Fariha, he saw the fear in their eyes. He couldn’t tell them about Tiger. He knew it would only worry them further and the school bus was ready to leave. He turned to them and smiled. He wanted to assure them that all would be well and safe.
“It may have been a sound that frightened Tommy. Perhaps a whistle or something. He’s a good dog. He’ll return. I’m certain of it.”
Those words did little to comfort Hiba who worried about her little dog. But Rabia, too, assured her that everything would be well. Ali knew his neighbors trusted him. But he feared diminishing that trust. The moment he was home from work, he was determined to search the entire forest if he had to in search of the missing pets.
There was no reason for panic. In the case of both Tiger and Tommy, they had run through the forests before. They knew their ways back home. He wanted to believe that they would calm down and return to their families.
Ali waved to the girls as they sat on the school bus and he returned to his SUV. While usually a focused driver, Ali couldn’t help but stare into the thick forest of trees on his journey to work. Something wasn’t right and until he knew what it was, there was no way to rest easily.
In the parking lot of the factory, Ali breathed in deeply. “All is well. Everything will work out,” he told himself. But the moment he opened his car door, a large rumbling sound overwhelmed his eardrums. Ali held his gloves against the sides of his head as he peered into the sky. He gulped.
Above, two fighter jets zipped through the sky on their way towards the Indian border. By that pound, his heart was pounding. He needed water to calm himself down and ease his mind. Something was far from well. And as Ali entered the factory, his thoughts were overwhelmed figuring out what it could be.
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.