Saturday, May 01, 2010


—:{ A Zeinab Story }:—

—:{ to Raphæl }:—

It would not serve, dear reader, if I cut straight to the story and told it. You would glance at it, and, perhaps, if you’re interested in such story you will read it through. You might even enjoy it while doing so. Then you would close it up, and get on with your life.

But I choose to say this the conventional way, as a memoir, as it happened to me. I am the only person to whom it matters. It weighed heavily upon me, like a burden borne too long. And it did not come easily; came by degrees, and, fleeting as it was, stayed on like rust, a festering wound, blanching my skin. It is so for those who are earnest—always.

A revelation is said to be god’s gift. It takes you that much closer to life. Indeed, it took me close, very close. But it left me far away, far away not just from life but from myself. Now I dread revelations. When the signs appear, I tremble and grow weak in the knee. Powerless like a leaf before falling. I recognise the signs, and I tremble because I know I am doomed.

...But I have detained you enough.

She was dressed, all in white, and on a pleasanter occasion I would have called it pretty. She was led in, slender hands held by aunts, hair dishevelled, eyelashes frizzled, and tears congealed in speckles. She was silent, as if muted by mortal fear, and I was sure the tears had dried up a while before. She was a pretty little girl, her eyes red and with an aspect that told you in an instant how she clung to life, how she cherished every moment of it. A lively young girl of ten.

Her dress, as I have indicated, seemed quite at odds with her personality. The dress was definitely not of local manufacture; it betrayed an affluence that placed her in the cream of Karachi society. It was white, and she seemed white like a dove. Everything else about her was homely and fresh. Like a dream, only she didn’t glide, but whimpered from time to time, as if stepping on thorns. Ah, cruel me! These thoughts come unbidden, but how we dream at leisure while they endure!

In those long corridors, hemmed in by relatives, who seemed as distant to her as the mountains to the waves, she began searching. She searched the walls, and she searched the endless trail of notices and displays that were lit up in myriad shades. She narrowed her eyes, as if trying to make out and engaged in something; yet every time her gaze darted back, hounded out, still searching for something to rest upon.

She looked at galloping feet, at the flowing white coats which spat out bars of light as they flocked along, once in one direction, and then the another. Everyone busy, with a purpose, the circle of life, the wheels of occupation. And she alone was sedentary, immobile, as if bottled in formaldehyde, watching life go by. In the maze of light and shadow, eyes never resting, she grew tired. She rested her head on the bench and promptly fell asleep.

From the stairwell, long beyond eyeshot, I stood gazing, motionless, arrested, clipped limbless by a swathe of white resting on a steel bench, head cushioned by a folded arm. And as I recalled her face, I felt a chill in my legs—beyond her folded arm was a white towel stained crimson by an enormous blotch of dried blood.

Her sleep lasted more than twenty-four hours, leading to rumours that it had been administered. It might well have been; for she had to cope with a loss which had rendered into stupefaction. She'd coped poorly, for she'd knocked herself senseless on the harsh marble floor. Her father the well-known surgeon was seen pacing the corridor in a frenzy of indecision.

Imtiaz Chishti was too close to the action to give it a miss; he recollected vividly both the girl’s face as well as her deceased mother’s; at once he was stung into pangs of guilt, which quickly silenced him. Suddenly, he was no more a stranger, but one among the lot, the ones who shared and endured silently. It was their common fate to share a turgid silence. Everyone knew, and everyone kept silent. A powerful man, distant, seemed to look down upon and lord it over them—iron hands, invisible, shadow-like—a presence which instilled fear and awe.

Later on, when she would regain consciousness, head in a bandage and her eyelids slowly cracking open, she would recognise him in silence, and, in a flutter, softly rouse him out of his reverie: Mamoo, sar dukhta hai burra burra sa.But she was happy. As he slowly came to, the harsh green of the hospital room solidifying in his dissolving eyes, he saw the same impish grin that had once called to him so fondly, many years ago. It all came back to him in an instant, and he realised that his eyes were full again.

[880, 7 minor edits, final]


Blue Eyed Boy said...


It’s so long since I read something of this sort from you. Zeinab – Milan – those pictures (at times featuring Sophie Marceau).

Each moment spent with you were taking me back to those days!

Is this the continuation or the loose strand to be fit in somewhere? What ever , my dear friend – There is no one like you! I don’t think any philosopher who is good at painting. Or at least he might not be riding R15.

Best thing life offers are free. Might be that is why we are able to read it free of cost in your blog space.

Hell ---- you won't network and hence your acumen will remain like this (in veil). But again, that makes you yourself,

I owe you something. Some thing close to "Nobel" in our locality. What ever you want from the local tea shop (Vepralam)?


Zeinab said...

Oh well, it had to be you.

I have a new post dedicated to you (and to our 'R15 ride').

Everybody has at least one question to ask after reading my posts. You too had one!

Well, things like this sort of keeps me writing. You never can give out too much, then nobody would want to read. :-;