The lamp was flickering, its flame drawing its last breath. He had once more forgotten to add oil to it. Maybe it was because the Urdu words on the page had drowned him completely. Only complete darkness would now awaken him from trance he had been caught into.
Slowly, and steadily, his shaking hands stopped, and the pen fell on the paper. His hands went to cover his face, his eyes letting out the uncontrolled stream of tears.
“Today is 19th August…1949… Today…is….my Ameer’s birthday. He hasn’t come to see me, but he should…he must! We have settled in the Pakistani region. Those horrors…God those horrors…. Damn those bastards! The poor passengers…”
He couldn’t bear to read those words, once more wiping off his tears, and letting hand do the talking again. More words added to the parchment, as his hands shook uncontrollably.
“I thank Allah that my son and wife are safe. My brother couldn’t make it…as he drank from a poisoned well. I told him not to trust those uncovered wells. He is in the heavens now. As for me…I do my best to…”
The flame went out, and the surroundings were engulfed into darkness. He could only feel his wet eyes, and the throbbing heart that clamored in his chest.
“Come to think of it, where is Ameer?! And Razia? We must go to graveyard!”
He murmured, getting up in a hysteria while storming out of the room. The heavy silence awaited him. He felt the air trapped in his lungs, and the nose crying for more air. He rushed across the room, and made it to the light. Scent of petrichor met his nostrils. A fresh breeze caressed his face. The front yard harbored a relieving sight.
“See Rafique…even the sky is weeping at your untimely demise. Ameer loved you so much! A grand tragedy that neither you…nor your family could make it.”
For one moment or two, he hated his crystal clear memory. He wanted to forget what he had witnessed in that train. He shook his head, heading to the exit door. He needed to get out…and see his family. They always grieved the tragedy together.
“Baba ji, you are out? Where are you off to?”
The moment he rushed into the streets, he heard those words. The boy who stood there had glimmering eyes, just like Rafique’s younger son. One who was…no….he didn’t wish to remember.
He did his best to elude that memory.
“Where is Ameer? And Razia?”
There was an uncomfortable pause, long enough to cause him suffocation. The boy was taking too long to answer. After a five moments, that twelve year old Amjad responded, much to his relief.
“They went to graveyard today early evening. Ameer met me personally and asked me to guide you to them. Everything is going to be fine. Stress and worry is not good for you! Let me help you get to the graveyard”
Hearing those words was quite a delight. The boy was surely a great help. For some reason, others joined in too, one being Amjad’s father. So many people visited graveyard everyday…such loss!
The sky cried once more, and thousands of raindrops kissed the ground. The sight of a few mounds of the dirt awaited him. There were many nameless graves, some had full bodies while some bearing only bits of what was left.
“I don’t see my son and wife…where are they?!” He cried.
“They are there, offering Fatiha by your younger brother’s grave.” Amjad whispered.
He found solace in those words, drifting off in that vast stretch of the dead grounds.
The boy stayed behind, turning to his father.
“When will he find out? Should he find out?”
“No….the anguish will kill him. He doesn’t remember being the only survivor, nor does he remember burying his entire family. The only merciful thing is his crippling dementia. What we can do for him is tell him after an hour that Ameer has left. He will go back to house, and return to writing letters by tomorrow… Poor man…lost everything…”