<%-- Page Title--%> Fiction <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 112 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

July 4, 2003

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Let the Time Pass

Shireen A. Pasha

A wrong turn. Baani made a wrong turn and landed in a tranquil neighbourhood of dogwood trees and freshly gravelled streets. The tranquillity, fresh air, and white petals floating across the sky made her screech to a halting stop at the green light. She thought to herself, “I'm here.”
She got out of the car, slammed it shut, and walked away, leaving all her inconsequential belongings behind.
Baani climbed a hill where two children stood arguing over Yugio Cards and a bearded old man rummaged through the trunk of his '73 Chevrolet. She stopped in front of his car. Her presence distracted his vigilant search. He gazed at her. She wondered why. Baani forgot that she was draped in a sari. The old man spoke: “Are you lost miss?” “No,” she replied. An awkward moment of silence passed before he spoke again. “I like your sari. The nice yellow edge is very pretty against the white.” She blushed. She looked into his old eyes and asked, “Why do we get married when it is not forever? Why do we have children that are not our own? Where do souls go when they leave their cage?” The old man squinted his eyes hoping he would hear her words better.
Baani did not explain. She brought the anchaal of her sari forward covering her arm, and walked away leaving the old man behind. She walked. She reached the end of the neighbourhood, and entered the gate to a park. Baani was oblivious to the sign on the gate that read “Caution. Park OFF LIMITS at Dusk.”
Baani continued to walk. In time, she passed a playground. She thought about her grown children, somewhere strewn across the world. She felt a tinge of pain, but she did not stop. She walked. She came across a large maple tree with names and promises of undying love engraved on its flesh. Baani remembered her husband and all that they shared. Her mouth opened to gasp for air. The pressure in the cavity of her chest was too much to bear. She walked away from the tree. She walked. The brightness of day wore away revealing a crooked moon against the orange streaks on an indigo sky. Baani thought of her mother and father, their faces outlined in the light of a hurricane lamp. Everyday before her father left for the Bazaar, he would ask her, “Ma, what can I bring for you tonight?” Her answer would always be the same. “Nothing, Abba. I don't need anything.” Her mother always told her, “I am the body, you are my arm. You can cut yourself away from me without a worry. But I will always feel the pain.” Baani cried out to the evening sky, “Ma, where are you now, and where am I?” No one replied. She walked.
She arrived at a ledge overlooking a highway, an abrupt end to the park. She looked down at the zooming cars. She recalled hearing long ago about nomads leaving their elderly behind in forests when they became incapable of continuing a journey, or when resources became scant.
She exhaled. She knew it would only be days before the children would begin fighting over the responsibility of taking her in. She didn't want anyone to leave her behind. She wanted to leave herself behind from the tossing world. She looked down at the highway, wondering where she would land.
Then, shrubs moved. Branches swayed to reveal the old man from the hill.
He said, “Wait, miss, I have your answers.” Baani, annoyed, replied, “Why do you call me miss when you see my leathery skin and distorted old bones?”
“If I were to call you anything else, it would be a reflection on my age. And, I refuse to think that I am a day older than twenty-six,” said the old man. He walked closer to Baani. Slowly. He extended his hand out to her. He continued, “We get married to pass the time in sweet delirium. We have children to pass the time with reason. And, souls… when they escape, they are suspended between worlds, waiting for the passage of time.”
Baani did not reply. The old man spoke again, “Come away from there and pass an hour, a minute, a second with me. Let's talk about nothing that matters. The afternoon sun reveals beautiful shadows in my backyard.”
Baani replied, “How do I find peace knowing that those I lived for, do not want to live for me?” The old man asked, “Are you referring to your children? You have already acknowledged that even when they are born, they are not your own. And, I have already told you that we have children to pass the time with reason. When your children are grown, you miss them. But, you also miss having the reason. Perhaps it is time to change your reason. Make yourself the reason. Nurture the soul within you, because even though you want your time to end, how you pass this time will be all that you can take with you.”
Baani looked down at the street, the freshly gravelled street. The lights dimmed, yet glowed. The line of dogwoods, graceful; its flowers adorned the night sky.
Then she looked at the old man. She stepped forward, placed her hand on his and asked “But night has come. When can we see the shadows, the beautiful shadows?”

Shireen A. Pasha is a Bangladeshi filmmaker staying in the United States.



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