array of images flicked in my mind. English Literature class. The school
library. Fantasy Kingdom. A picture frame. Sunset at Cox's Bazar. It
was like being in a crazy kaleidoscope. I squeeze my eyes shut. A valiant
effort to make them go away. Then I noticed maa. Saw her tear stricken
cheeks, the puffy eyes and her trembling lips... moving, talking. I
felt the consoling arm on my back. I looked at her again, trying to
make out what she was saying
Suddenly the need to hit myself gained full throttle. Maybe it will wake me up from this maddening nightmare where I was being told that, Zain, who I had seen all healthy and strong, only last night...was now gone!!
I sought refuge of the chair and as I sat down, I realized that hot tears were streaming down my cheeks. There were even drops on my pajama top. I stare at maa and make an effort to smile, to comfort her and to tell her that everything was going to be all right. Out of nowhere, I suddenly remember that I had to iron my burgundy shirt today, as all of us were going out to eat today, all over again.
Then it hit me. All of us!! What all of us?? Zain was gone now, taken away from all of us, leaving a massive void, never ever to be filled up. My body wracked with uncontrollable sobs as reality set in, at its cruelest.
The trip to Dhanmondi was short but it seemed to take ages. I clutch impatiently at the steering wheel as I honk at the lethargic, ever-so-slow rickshaws. As I park the car at the gate, a burst of tears hit me again. When was the last time I was here?? Why...last night as I had dropped him off and promised to him I would wear a saree one of these days as he, like the others, had never seen me in one. I notice the balcony as I enter the gate, barely registering the melee of people and cars. The swing moved in the breeze, a lone yet mute witness of the fun, discussions, fights and tears that the 5 of us had shared on countless occasions. A well of tears fight to take control but I fight back, realizing I would have to be strong when I'd meet Zain's parents.
As I open the door and peer in, more of the grim reality seems to set in. My eyes lock onto the familiar ones of Shakil, his big and composed posture taking a hiding from this shock. As we embrace each other, tears and incoherent words all mixed up, I come face to face with Aseer, Keeto and Faizal. Their stubbled cheeks, bloodshot eyes and wrinkled clothes are all indications that they have been here for some time. A surge of anger goes through me. Why was I informed so late? How come they had known before me? Was it because I was the girl? An effort to keep the tragedy away from me as much as possible? Immediately, I order myself to calm down. Whatever the reason was for informing me this late, it wasn't worth it to drag it out. Not now. No way
I spied Zain's father at a distance, wiping his eyes and his spectacles at the same time, a former shadow of his old vibrant self. His wife sat on the sofa behind him, sitting quietly as tears streamed down her cheeks. As she saw me, she raised her trembling hand, which I took. I hugged her as she asked, even in her state, how my parents were. My heart went out to both of them. How would they now possibly live in this vast, empty house, without their only source of joy, pride and concern?
Soon afterwards I found myself squeezed between Keeto and Faizal, as we sat on the couch, one significant less among us. I managed to digest the details of the accident, while my mind, unconsciously, went back to all the good times the gang had had together. Zain had failed to see the truck, which was traveling without any headlights (no surprises there!). It had been a head-on collision, the truck ravaging through the bonnet of Zain's car. He had been thrown out, through the windshield and had lain bleeding on the road, for at least an hour, before any help had arrived. Aseer was informed shortly after the Faz'r prayers and had been requested to go and identify the body. His courage had failed him, and he had taken the others with him to the morgue.
As I learnt the approximate timing of the accident, my heart gave a huge lurch. It had occurred at around 1 in the morning and I had called Zain only an hour later, to have our usual 'ungodly hour' talks, to find the network of his cell-phone busy. I tried not to imagine him, lying on the road, struggling between life and death, but the image stayed horribly in my mind. I also realized, that I was angry with Zain. Who had told him to go driving at such hours of the morning? We had warned him incessantly but now it seemed that the words had fallen on deaf ears.
That was when my eyes happened upon a photo hanging on the wall. It was taken on the day we had graduated from school, our hearts full of hope, and our minds heady and buzzing with possibilities. Had this happened only 6 months back? Seemed ages back...I was about to have another of those crying fits when Keeto held out his hand, motioning me to come with him. As he took me to the back of the house, I realized where we were going. I pleaded silently, not wanting to see Zain, not in this state!!
He lay on a makeshift bed, the garage surprisingly devoid of people, as if he had been left to collect himself and then leave...for eternity. As we neared the corpse, I let out a muffled cry, not wanting to see Zain's face, or any part of him. I did not want to tarnish the boyish, jovial, mischievous and encouraging image of Zain that I would always have in my mind. I noticed I was not the only one struggling with emotions as Shakil burst into incoherent words of regret and remorse.
As I sat down beside the Zain, snatches of nostalgia hit me again. I fondly remembered how he' d tell me, " Eto je chheleder shathe ghurish, one day you will wake up in the morning and dekhbi you've turned into a boy!!" amidst my amused screams of protest.
I dared to peek at him, expecting to see a face set in the last agonies of horror and pain. Instead, he looked as though he was sleeping, no nightmares to haunt him. It almost seemed that he had died in peace, cherishing the last good moments on this earth, which were ironically, perhaps with us.
I stood up, knowing I couldn't take it anymore. I had not known life before I had met him, Aseer, Shakil, Keeto and Faizal. How was I supposed to go on with life without one of the most important and cherished people in my own small world?
While I shook with tears and anger at the injustice laid upon us, I knew I would remember him...ALWAYS. As we went off, I bent down, pressed my hand on my lips and then onto his, for the very last time. The fact that they were cold, didn't register in my mind, as I whispered, " Goodbye, dosto. We will miss you..forever...
me or not
I meet him three years ago. It was his first day at school. Our teacher introduced him with us. From that day I felt a strange attraction for him. May be it was my destiny or may be ... I don't know. We welcomed him in our friend group; we became very friendly. As the time went on, our intimacy became deep to deeper. I still can feel those wonderful moments- his eyes- the way he used to look at me, the way he used to talk to me. May be I was wrong, may be not. Most of the days we used to sit together in the left corner of the classroom. Day after day we became detached from our group. We began to study together. We spend most of the time together, discussed about many topics. May be those endless, useless discussions were just a reason to stay together. When I first went to his house - he showed me his favorites things, he told me about his likings and disliking, his hobbies, his dreams, his passion- many things. Whenever I told him to come to my house, he always rushed to my house no matter how busy he was. Those days were my golden days. May be those were just his love for a friend or ... I don't know. I spend many sleepless nights by thinking all these. At first I thought it's my attraction for him. But I was wrong. Cause I still love him- No matter how he behaved with me. In a weak moment I told him -" I love you". For the first time and may be for the last time in my life I said this line to someone. OH!! I was wrong. He refused me. No, he said nothing. He just looked at me. I still can see the tears in his eyes. May be he wanted to say many things but he only said-" its not possible". But he didn't tell me why. I was so shocked! But that was just the beginning of my tragedy. From that day he stopped talking to me. He began to avoid me. I was so alone! I was already detached from my group and after that I became detached from him. I don't know how I have passed that year. We never tried to talk with each other. We used to look at each other silently. Why he was behaving so? Why? But some days ago he talked with me. He asked me -" how are you?". I said nothing. From that day he was trying to behave normally- like nothing happened between us. Now a days he talks to me in the way he used to talk before. I haven't asked him anything. I still don't know why he behaved like that. I don't know whether he loves me or not. I want to know. But I won't ask him cause I don't want to loose him again.
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