This is a short story sent to us by D. Asghar
Writer’s Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, all names and places except Lahore and Anarkali are imaginary. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is merely a coincidence. The story revolves around the recent floods in Pakistan, but does not depict the actual facts surrounding that event.
“Idrees, Naajia, Sughra….Idrees, Naajia Sughra.” I yelled and then woke up again. Karam Din came to me and said the same thing; he had repeatedly told me every time I had this nightmare. He murmured, “Brother your family is with GOD Almighty, they are looking for you, as much as you are for them.” He had me drink something and I felt lifeless.
“Baba….get me the bangles from Anarkali this time, when you are there.” My princess of a daughter, Naajia requested. “Baba get me a cricket bat.” Her younger brother, my 5 year old son, Idrees lodged his request as well. “Of course I will get you your bangles Naajia and Puttar Idrees I will get you a cricket bat.” I grabbed both of them and hugged them tightly. Sughra came out of the tiny cube of a kitchen and stared at me and said, “Are you leaving Ji. Please be careful as it has started to rain.” All I could say was, “Yes I know.” She handed me my lunch in a Tiffin box and I grabbed it. She handed me my umbrella and I left.
The bus took me from my village, Kot Kangha to Lahore. The rain started to get heavy. My one hour journey from Kot Kangha to Lahore turned out to be two and a half hours. Everyone in the bus was happy, that GOD had finally sent the much needed rain. The fields along the way were getting greener. My heart was racing with happiness, it is happening. The angels of heaven are showing their ultimate mercy on us. The bus had workers like me headed to Lahore. One of them started to sing a Punjabi song about rain and some others joined in.
I reached my job site, a huge auditorium which was being built in Lahore Extension. I went to the foreman, who was glad to see me. He was puffing on his cigarette as usual and said “Oyey…Mukhtaarey….wiring has to be perfect, or else.” He started to cough and he was unable to finish his sentence. I grabbed my water bottle and gave it to him. He sipped and his uncontrollable coughing came to an end. “Sir Jee, please stop smoking now. Don’t worry about my wiring, it will be perfect as usual, please worry about your coughing.” I jokingly said to him. He said, “Mukhtaarey, that’s why I like you, you are the King of Electricians, your hand has an art.”
Then I saw many images as the noise of the rain grew louder and louder. Too loud for me to handle. The workers along with me were caught in this fierce storm. I called the mobile of Sughra, we spoke. I heard her saying, “Not to worry. We are used to the rain. GOD’s mercy..we needed the rain.” 2nd night…my call and a bit worried voice of Sughra and my children. The rain was just not looking to die. I guess the rain had a different plan. Third night and there was no mobile connection. Nobody was able to make any contact via mobile phones.
The next image that came was the rain had shown some signs of letting up. Lahore Extension had turned into a lake. Hunger…worry…frustration. The workers like me worried about their loved ones. How did we get to Kot Kangha, a lot arduous journey? Partly on a Construction truck, when it got stuck we frantically carried on our feet. Submerged in waist deep water, we came to Kot Kangha which was no longer the Kot Kangha we knew. It had become a morgue. A lifeless ocean of sorts, a furious one .Death…destruction…chaos…nothing not even the cattle survived.
I saw the image of a camp. Jamat Ul Haq Camp. Khalifa Sahib saying something about this being the wrath of GOD. We were being punished, because we deviated from the path of truth and righteousness. We were being punished for selecting people who were siding with infidels. My rage inside me was at a boiling point. No amount of rain could cool down the fire inside me. I agreed with Khalifa Sahib, it was time to deliver justice, a speedy one indeed. None of these people were familiar with pain. They had to feel the pain of what Mukhtar Electrician was going through.
I woke up and Karam Din and Khalifa Sahib briefed me on the “justice plan.” I was prepared, both mentally and physically to execute my “sacred justice.” Lahore had dried up; life was back as usual for the city and its dwellers. Life would never be back to normal for me.
The city was organizing a concert for the victims. These people were shameless. No one came to the rescue of my family, when they needed the help. Now these people wanted to gather to watch some idiots sing and dance. Yes, dance on the dead bodies of many, who did not deserve to perish. There “cause” was “just”, but little did they know that my rage was beyond their expectations.
The venue was the same auditorium, where I had put all those wires. I knew every single corner of the building. Some idiot of a Minister was supposedly the Chief Guest. The auditorium was opening ahead of schedule for this relief effort. People had paid a lot to get in. My handlers briefed me on every single thing. They had transformed my face and I was wired. Wired I was, very appropriately for the occasion.
My handlers had placed me as a technician on stage. I was supposed to make sure that all the wires led to the stage appropriately and the sound system worked properly. The auditorium was packed and the show was about to begin. According to plan, I was supposed to act at 08:15 PM when the lead singer was supposed to go on stage.
I stepped out to run to the bathroom, one final time. I heard a familiar cry. I turned; it was a young child, a girl perhaps 6, almost the age of my daughter, Naajia. I stopped and knelt in front of her. She was crying endlessly. I asked, “What happened, my dear.” She said, ” Mommy, Daddy, I have lost my Mommy and Daddy.” I looked at her face and my heart sank. It was like my daughter, Naajia in front of me, wearing the same bangles, which I was supposed to fetch for her from Anarkali.
I asked her name, and she barely said, “Nas………..reen.” I told her, “Not to worry, Nasreen. Come with me, I will take you to the stage.” She cried again despite all my assurances. Finally I picked her up. When I picked her up, it almost felt like, it was my daughter in my arms. My heart melted and my tears became uncontrollable. I started to cry, my tears which were tears of joy and immense shame. The rage inside me which was drowning my whole self had started to flow with my tears. I wanted this Naajia to live, like many other Naajias inside. I felt ashamed at the same time, that how selfish I was. For one Naajia, how many Naajias and their families were about to suffer. I was headed to the stage to make the announcement, so Nasreen’s parents were informed that she was safe and well. My phone rang, I saw the screen light up, “Khalifa calling”, I knew that this was the call that I had to ignore, and ignore it forever.