On our present state
Suva watched the beautiful girl standing before her in the line. She was noticeably beautiful. It was 8 0'clock in the morning and she was waiting in the BRTC bus line with six other people. They all had been standing almost for an hour. Suddenly a black sleek motorbike came near the bus stop. Two hoodlums whistled at the beautiful girl. The girl sneered at them. One of the young men asked: 'Want a lift, honey? Don't stand in the sun, dear. It will damage your complexion'
The girl: 'Please, don't molest me, or else I will call the police. You always follow me around, shameless creatures.'
The man got angry and grabbed the girl's hand. Before the people around them could do anything, a regretful scene came about. The girl spat on the man and in return he slapped her hard. The girl fell on the pavement and the two men went away roaring on their bike. Suva helped the girl to stand up. Her lips were bleeding. Suva asked her where she lived and came to know that she lived in the opposite building. She helped the poor girl go home.
That afternoon Suva could not concentrate on her studies at the university. The mishap of the morning dazed her. In the afternoon she came home and shared her experience with her mother Mrs. Zahid. Her reaction was: 'You should not speak to those dangerous persons. What if you were the victim? I would have died, my dear. Now listen to me carefully Suva, always be careful on the streets when you are alone. Days are not as peaceful as before. My blood pressure will rise to think of you and your siblings. Hai Allah!'
Suva was quite annoyed with her mother who had nothing to do but think of absurd things. She did not pay attention to her grumbling and went to the washroom to clean up.
A day later, Mrs. Zahid was talking to her neighbor on the phone: 'Have you heard of the dangerous deed, Bhabi?' Five or six men attacked the beautiful girl of the next building." She dropped her voice to a whisper. "Now don't tell this to anyone else. My daughter saw all this with her own eyes. The men dragged the girl behind their motorbikes. The girl was injured very badly, she might not live.'
At that moment Suva rushed into the room excitedly and nudged her mother. Mrs. Zahid looked up at her and said goodbye to the person on the other side of the receiver.
'Mom, you know who that girl was? She is the daughter of our present chairperson of the Housing Society. You ran election against this Mrs. Mokhtar.' Mrs. Zahid suddenly became gloomy and asked: 'How is the girl now?'' Suva answered, 'She is okay. She just had a cut on the lips. And the hoodlums have been arrested by the police.'
Mrs. Zahid did not seem to be happy. This Mrs. Mokhtar was her rival in the housing society where they lived. She was thinking of visiting that injured girl as a courtesy and a step forward for the next Chairperson election of the society. Suddenly, angry voices of people could be heard. Both Suva and Mrs. Zahid looked down from their window of the 4th floor. All the people of the Housing Society gathered near the central monument. The banners read:
'We want justice,
we want the hoodlums' severe punishment'.
Mrs. Zahid was a bit taken aback at this scene. People seemed to be very agitated and powerful enough to destroy everything. She drew the curtains so that she did not have to see the cataclysm. She gave a second thought to visiting the girl and use that chance in campaigning.
By Sabreena Ahmed
Ashrill siren pierced the silence of the night. From underneath the blanket, my hand emerged and groped in the darkness for the switch beside my bed. In a few seconds, yellow light flooded the room and my shadow appeared on the opposite wall. My baby wailed on.
With the bitter taste of sleep in my mouth, I squinted at the light to see the baby. His face was scrunched up in distress, his eyes shut tight against the harsh light. "Now, now," I murmured, with forced patience. The digital clock beside my bed read 3:23 AM. It was six minutes fast.
I had asked Shahriar the first time he told me about it.
Just like I didn't get this baby. I'd feed him, rock him gently, play with him. You'd think he'd be happy after getting smothered with all that attention. Just when you think it's safe to shut your eyelids, the roar erupts. The same routine follows every time. Your pulse races at the high pitch of its wail. Naively, for a split second, you believe its life is in danger, that it's suffering from unbearable pain and you wouldn't be able to rescue it. In that split second, the life force inside you is sucked out from your body.
Very draining, I thought, taking up the blue bundle in my arms. He was so little, my baby. Very draining indeed, when the same happens on five consecutive nights. When was the last time I could sleep uninterrupted for an entire night? Can't remember. At least the last few months haven't been that bad. Not compared to what was likely to follow. My maternity leave gets over in a few weeks. Then the real troubles shall begin.
"Why do you
kick around so much?" I asked the baby. "Planning to be a
football player?" (The blanket that covered him had been kicked
a good distance from where he had been sleeping).
Carefully, I got outside the mosquito net, then holding the baby in one arm, tucked the net in, in case the mosquitoes get in. Mosquitoes are small creatures but big opportunists. So you never know.
I made my way to the adjacent verandah. The cold mosaic felt like needles under my soles. I wrapped a quilt around the baby more tightly. No way was I letting that cold get its hands on my boy.
The moon spilled light into the verandah, giving the place a silver shimmer. I sat down on the wooden swing.
to have a swing in here!" I had complained to Shahriar.
In the moonlight, I looked at the blunt features of the baby. What a miracle of nature. One moment he was inside my womb, kicking me. The next moment, well, he's still kicking me, but, oh, you know what I mean!
"May be you're
not my baby," I joked.
Shahriar had laughed out loud.
"Do you want to be a journalist like Daddy when you are big?" I asked the baby as it seemed to calm down a little in the verandah.
In response, it
chewed something invisible in his mouth with great concentration, showing
me his toothless gum.
Shahriar looked at me, as I sat on the dining table, my face covered
with my hands.
"I don't need
it." I had protested, as the cramps got worse.
Then realising that I was all alone in the early hours of morning with a posthumous child in my arms, I realised that perhaps, truth does make all the difference. The truth that the loss of a husband and a father was irrevocable hit me with the first light of dawn, will strike me with the first light of every other dawn in my life. If the truth didn't make a difference, of all places in the world, why would I be here?
By Maliha Bassam
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