“Amijaan, Papa is home! He is home!” shouted the child, as he flung himself on the newcomer, standing stolidly on the threshold of the door.
Upon hearing the child’s shout, an elderly woman bustled out of the kitchen, saying,” Ali, how many times do I have to tell you that Papa won’t —-“ She stopped in mid-sentence, frozen, as her shrewd glance found the new-comer.
“Ibrahim?” She uttered unbelievingly.
“Ami, Your son is back,” said the new-comer weakly, his eyes glinting in the shimmering moonlight, creeping in through the door, as tears welled in them.
The elderly woman, hurled herself into the arms of the new-comer, scolding shrilly her son now and then amidst sobs and cries: “O Ibrahim! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you since ages! Why did you ever leave me alone, you naughty, naughty boy! You didn’t think how much anxious I’d been! No, you’d to go and leave your Ami and your child! O Ibrahim, why? Why? Why did you do so?”
The newcomer bent his face towards his mother, and pleaded softly, trying to reason with his mother,” I’m sorry, Ami, but I’d too. Prices are soaring high, Ali’s school has swelled its fees, the landlord has doubled the rent … I don’t know how I could have paid for Food, Education and Shelter from just 10,000 Rupees? It had become imperative for me to find a job in the city … or else we would have starved and you know I would never let it be so. Had the inflation not escalated so alarmingly, I’d have never left you … still, Ami I’m really very sorry,” and then added imploringly,” I hope you understand me, Ami.”
“I do understand you, my dearest,” returned his mother, as tears flowed steadily down her wizened cheeks, adding impulsively,” But, home is never home without you …”
“Banwara mann dekhne chala ek sapna …” crooned the radio somewhere and I wondered:
“Can we ever stop dreaming?” Dreams stab in the heart. Dreams wound the soul. Dreams puncture hopes. Yet we dream. Yet we hurt ourselves … But no … we don’t stop dreaming … we can never stop dreaming … never stop clinging to optimism … never losing hope till the last moment … never stop dreaming!
Thoughts after thought whirled through the failing mind of the shriveled lady, reclined in a couch. Beside her slept a child tranquilly, evidently unaware of the calamity that had struck his beloved father.
The withered woman clutched to a piece of paper tightly in her one hand, while the other hand clasped the remote of the television.
The television had been switched to a news channel, which flashed consistently,” BREAKING NEWS!” blaring the following headline:
“BOMB BLAST IN KARACHI. GREAT POLITICAL LEADER HANIF DANDI ASSASSINATED. 37 REPORTED DEAD, 19 INJURED. THE CHIEF-INSPECTOR HAS CONFIRMED THE BLAST TO BE SUICIDAL.”
The piece of paper slipped from the woman’s hand, as she drifted to sleep, exhausted by her own train of thoughts, falling lightly on the matted, moldy carpet. The glass lantern cast its intermittent light on the paper, which read:
Dear Ami, You are aware of our poverty-stricken conditions. It is our destitute state that has forced me to take this step. Do pray for my clemency, for the step I’m going to is unforgivable in the eyes of the Providence. I shall miss Ali. I love you, Ami.
Yours affectionately, Ibrahim
PS. Inside is enclosed a cheque of 5 Lakhs, the price of the step I’m going to take. Use it well.
As the mobile beeped, Mr. Asghar looked at the caller id and swore loudly.
He received the call and asked gauntly,” Report me?’
“The work has been done, sir. Open your television,” returned the caller in calm tones, his calmness most agitating to Mr. Asghar.
Consequentially, Mr. Asghar did as the caller bid him to do, his face beaded with drops of perspiration. With fumbling hands, he opened the television. Every sign of apprehension, agitation, impatience and annoyance vanished from his face, as he read the headline.
“Congratulations. You have done your work well,” said Mr. Asghar joyously, as he settled himself in a comfy pouf, his face bearing a triumphant smile, as he had finally got rid of his worst political rival.
“The entire work went remarkably smooth. You see, I’d got hold of an agile one this time.” replied the caller callously.
“How much did he cost?” asked Mr. Asghar, inclined to pay as much as the caller asked, as his most precarious obstacle to the Seat of President had been removed, and so made his way to the Presidential House more unproblematic then ever.
“5 Lakhs. He came off cheap,” replied the caller, further adding with a nefarious laugh,” He seemed desperate for money.”
“Isn’t that too less? I mean he was giving away his life, you should have paid him more,” said Mr. Asghar, ill at ease.
“Boon for boon. He gave away his life, I paid him 5 lakhs … and that is enough,” said the caller cruelly, adding cold-heartedly,” I didn’t force him. He volunteered himself. Anyhow, population growth has been troubling our country since few years. One person less, does count. Therefore, we should celebrate as we’re trying to solve our blasphemed country’s problems and fighting against overpopulation.”
Mr. Asghar laughed and said,” Your reasons are always so sound. Let us celebrate tonight.”