He lies on the bed wrapped in a silk green quilt. A pattern of flowers, magenta
center and rust tinge leaves cover the quilt. Encompassed by a relaxing aura, probably what all he has ever wanted in his life, he changes his sleeping side. I think he probably has some flu. He’s kept a towel beside him and motions to get hold of it with shaky hands to wipe off his lower face, exposing the morphine tablets on the bedside table.
Fractions of seconds later, he wakes up abruptly and screeches my name “Larebbb”. A tiny smile occurs on my face and I turn my face, left profile towards him. From across the bed he looks at me and chuckles,
“Bacheh tum yahin ho? Mujhe laga chali gaye hogi bahir” (You are still here? I thought you had left the room a long time ago.)
“No papa, I’m here.” I reply giving him a comforting reassurance.
“Ahh” He laughes with the little energy left inside him. “Light band kardo.” (Close the lights.)
Despite the opioid painkillers he’s been taking post chemotherapy, depressing his sensations, it is surprising my father is awake at the most unexpected hours to make a small conversation. But I treasure these odd minute talks. It’s almost equivalent to turning on and off a lamp, starring into the abyss, getting an unusual satisfaction despite not achieving anything useful out of this purposeless activity. It’s hearing his voice that soothes me.
Placing the bookmark in my novel that has kept me engaged the past one hour, I move towards the switchboard to switch off the yellow bulb that’s been a source to the forlorn shadows. Failing health dwindles ambition. My father whose casting shadows had protected us our entire life won’t last long. I ruminate on these thoughts as I leave the room.
My father’s an old man now – a jar overflowing with wisdom that I want to save somewhere, perceptive to details and a self-aware person. Where do you find these people? When do you encounter people who never cease to amaze you? What are these moments like?
I vividly recall filling my colour book. Lying cross legged on the bare ground, I use the somewhat bits and pieces left of the broken crayons. It is 9 am, Monday morning, sunlight streaming in. Papa rushes out of his room to catch one last glimpse of me, to greet me before leaving for work. I raise my head to see the tall figure standing in front of me. I envy his attire and that professional look on his face. With a naive, superficial approach, I quickly blurt my mind out.
“Papa mujeh apne sath office lejayein”.
He quietly laughs to that.
For two minutes I judge him for laughing at my request. What is so funny about it?
“Kyun bhai, kia shauq hai tumhein wahan janay ka?” says he in wonder.
Getting up on my weak knees and collecting my dispersed thoughts I look into his eyes and gesture him to pick me up into his arms. He does. Wholeheartedly.
“Papa yeh kia baat hui ap rozana tyar hokar office chalay jatay hain, kitna maza ata hoga apko. Homework bhi nahi milta. Yeh bilkul sahi nahi hai, mujeh bhi yeh sab karna hai. Office mein bethna hai aur sabko order denay hain.”
He stares into my gleaming eyes, brings my head close to his neck, caresses it and takes a deep sigh. Trying to hide a sentiment or two he grins a little and traces his- almost soft hands on the verge of turning rough, over my head and pulls my cheek.
“Bohat bolti ho tum, itni jaldi kyun uth gaye ho ajj?”
Ignored? I fail to apprehend why I did not receive my answer and have a personal two minute war within, cringing inside my brain, trying to comprehend what this is all about.
-6 year olds carrying the burden of the problems in this world with their “big questions”.
With these recurring thoughts flooding my brain, I walk out of the room towards the backyard. While taking a stroll, I plug the pieces of puzzle into place. Coming of age is the most subtle, sensitive effect. Internal monologues refine you to the extent, you are mature enough to understand your father’s torturing silence and withheld emotions. You learn to let go of the irrelevant and hold the significant minute details to yourself. Ordeals on daily basis shake you. The most powerful person is the one who can sense what others around them want and is generous enough to get them what they want, simultaneously being compassionate to nurture the ones around you. Wanting things and getting them is a highly mediocre skill, almost anyone can have it. Sensing need and fulfilling it is a Godly attribute and only a true heart has God made so pure and beautiful that it can sense without being told and give without being asked and remain hidden and taken for granted like the God. Probably some questions are better left unanswered. No wonder the beauty lies in the hidden.
By: Lareb Hassan
First Year MBBS
Quaid e Azam Medical College