C H A P T E R T W O
rain poured down all night inside him. The dense clouds of memory seemed
to come from every direction. Now the sky was washed and soft. Here and
there a cloud swam contentedly in it, like a bright face, a soft smile.
How deeply self-absorbed he was! For him, the outer world had already lost
its meaning. Seated at the breakfast table, he ran an indifferent
eye over the headlines and slid the newspaper toward Abba Jan.
Jan had already eaten breakfast, and was absorbed in the Urdu newspaper.
When Zakir sat down at the table, Abba Jan looked at him with surprise.
"Zakir, don't you have to go to the College today?"
I do. But I woke up late."
eat your breakfast quickly and go." With these words, Abba Jan again turned
to his newspaper.
had certainly woken up late today, but he still wasn't in any hurry. He
had washed and dressed at a leisurely pace, now he was eating breakfast
at a leisurely pace.
came and felt the teapot: "Hasn't it gotten cold?"
it's not so cold yet, it'll do," he said, testing the pot with his palm
and cupped fingers to make sure.
from now on please have your breakfast early! After all, I'm by myself.
I have to do all the housework alone." Then at once she addressed Abba
Jan: "Well, what have they written about Dacca?"
no special news."
away from Abba Jan, she slid over to Zakir the English newspaper lying
nearby: "Son, look in the English newspaper! There must be something in
again glanced over the newspaper and said indifferently, "No news worth
dear, then how will we get word of your Khalah Jan? There's not even any
news coming from there!"
in Him." Abba Jan gestured with a finger toward the sky.
indeed, I trusted Him!" Ammi said with bitter anger. "Trusting Him was
what brought me to this pass!"
Jan looked gravely at Ammi, and then reprimanded her: "Zakir's mother,
a single heedlessly-spoken sentence is enough to wipe out a lifetime of
Ammi lowered her head. She fell silent. Then she began another topic: "Well,
do you remember what I said to Batul then?"
did you say when?"
mother, when was the time you're remembering? I don't remember what you
said to whom at the time!"
you may not remember -- I remember every single word spoken at the time!
The moment we arrived here I wrote her, 'You come here, God is the Provider.'
She was ready to come here, but Tahirah's husband was so crazy that he
went to the East instead. The poor thing had to go there too, for her daughter's
mother! Hazrat Ali, peace be upon him, always used to say, 'When wishes
are thwarted, I recognize my Lord.' Our wishes are dependent on His pleasure;
what He desires, that's what happens."
once more fell silent and lowered her head, as though she bowed before
the Divine will.
Jan turned to him: "Perhaps you don't have to go to the College today?"
just going." Hastily he finished his last sip of tea, and rose.
the house, he stopped at the corner of the lane, at Nazira's shop. Coming
and going, he always stopped at that shop and bought cigarettes.
sir! There's a lot of trouble today," Nazira said abruptly, giving him
the packet of cigarettes.
wasn't there trouble yesterday?"
today there's a lot of trouble."
there was, in fact, a lot of trouble. When he reached the College he saw
that here and there the big clay flowerpots had been smashed to pieces,
the classrooms were empty, and the glass panes of the doors had been shattered,
with broken glass lying both inside the classrooms and outside on the verandahs.
The boys had disappeared. Where had they gone, all the boys? It seemed
that all of them, shouting slogans, wreaking havoc, had left the college
and run off somewhere else. He went to his office, sat down, and remembered
which lecture he was supposed to give today. But how could he give a lecture
today? Pointlessly, aimlessly, he opened the drawer and shuffled some papers;
he opened the books on the table and glanced through them, then closed
them and put them aside. He couldn't decide what to do. He had left the
house richly drenched in memories, self-absorbed, detached from the outside
world. But in the time it took him to arrive here, the outside world had
gradually taken on meaning. Now it was no longer possible for him to take
advantage of the leisure and solitude to sit at his ease, smoking a cigarette,
and lose himself in the world of his memories. Seeing the college all topsy-turvy,
he felt a kind of oppression. Now what's to be done? All right, I'll go
to the Shiraz. Perhaps the group might be there. No matter what, Irfan
ought to be there at this hour. He stood up.
a little while, he was in the Shiraz, sharing confidences with Irfan. Irfan
after all, who was she?"
just was, and that's enough."
until now you've never even mentioned her?"
forgotten her. How could I have mentioned her?"
forgotten her?" Irfan looked at him in surprise.
yar, I'd forgotten her. And a lot of time has passed."
why have you remembered her now?"
is the season when all my memories are returning. All kinds of forgotten
things, from I don't know when, are coming back to me."
when there's so much turmoil everywhere?"
now when there's so much turmoil everywhere." He paused, then spoke again.
"Do you know what my mother does nowadays? Every morning when the paper
comes, she asks what news there is from Dhaka. You know, don't you, that
some of our relatives had settled in Dhaka? My Khalah Jan. So my mother
is worried all the time, and every morning when the paper comes, she asks
what news there is from Dhaka. And when she doesn't get a reassuring answer,
she remembers that when we arrived here she wrote Khalah Jan a letter and
advised her to come here: 'Don't go to the back of beyond, come here.'
And then all kinds of forgotten bits of stories from the time of Emigration
come to her mind."
she's in Dhaka?" Irfan hazarded a guess.
she never came to Pakistan at all."
didn't come to Pakistan? I see." He fell into thought. "And since then
you haven't been to India?"
indeed a lot of time has passed."
just what I'm thinking." His voice sank to a whisper. "A lot of time has
procession is coming!" A group of frightened people entered with the news.
Various people sitting at the tables pricked up their ears.
it's a very big procession. It's coming along breaking up things in its
sitting in the Shiraz was alarmed. A number of them rose and quickly left.
Abdul shot out of the kitchen like an arrow, closed the door in an instant,
and drew the curtains over the panes.
there seems to be more trouble than usual," Irfan muttered.
yesterday's rumor turned out to be false."
yesterday people took it as absolute truth."
yesterday it seemed to be absolutely true."
and rumors both have a one-day lifespan. The next day, what difference
does it make if you find out that it wasn't news but rumor, or that it
wasn't rumor but news?"
and Ajmal entered by way of the kitchen. Salamat cast a ferocious glance
all around, swept his pointing finger around the room, and said loudly,
"I ask why the door is shut, and why the curtains are drawn, and why it's
glared at Salamat and said coldly, "Because there's a lot of noise outside."
looked ferociously at both him and Irfan: "Yes, and because you don't want
to hear the voice of the people! But, you imperialist devil, this voice
can no longer be suppressed. It will come ripping its way through curtains,
and it'll burst your eardrums too!" Then he called out, "Abdul!"
swiftly emerged from the kitchen. "Yes sir?"
Open the door, and draw back the curtain."
let some light and air come in from outside. Light, air, and the voice
of the people!" Ajmal added encouragingly.
open the door. The procession is very rowdy," a voice came from a distant
said furiously, "The masses are enraged against the capitalists and the
Salamat and Ajmal both sat down at his and Irfan's table.
man, who had been sitting alone for some time drinking tea, got up from
his place, approached, and said, "You're educated young men. Please tell
me, what's all this that's happening?"
looked contemptuously at him and said, "What's happening is what ought
white-haired man stared at Salamat's face. Then he sighed, "God have mercy
upon us," and went back and sat down in his place.
said Salamat, "I feel that this white-haired man is even more ignorant
than my white-haired father."
father," said Ajmal, "is more ignorant than your white-haired father and
this white-haired man put together."
my father is not my father." Salamat ground his teeth. "I'm a bastard."
announced, "I refuse to consider my father as my father."
our disgusting fathers have ruined us." Salamat's voice was suddenly tearful.
looked at Irfan, then at him: "Say something, you two."
Salamat grew angry again: "They think that by staying silent they can save
their disgusting fathers, and the bastard sons of their disgusting fathers,
from the firing squad of time." He pounded on the table. "But it can't
Sahib, you're sitting here," an acquaintance said, coming in through the
kitchen, "and there in Gol Market the liquor shop is being looted."
gave a start. "Really?"
indeed, I've just come from there. Liquor is running in the gutters, and
dogs are lying around dead drunk."
we've missed our chance again," Ajmal murmured regretfully. He poked Salamat.
"Come on, yar. Let's at least go see."
where? To see what?" Salamat said irritably. "We don't have to go to looted
liquor shops to see dogs lying dead drunk! Where's the lane in which you
can't see dogs lying dead drunk?" Then he gave the surrounding tables a
look so fiery that it shot out sparks, and yelled, "Dogs! You'll have to
wake up now! The day of reckoning is here: you'll have to account
for yourselves. You, me, everyone."
me," Afzal said comfortably. Entering, he had heard Salamat roaring; he
had come and stood by the table in silence. Now he slid a chair over and
sat down opposite Salamat, and said, looking him in the eye, "Mouse! Why
are you standing up on your tail? I'll have to settle accounts with you!
I'm only waiting for a bamboo flute."
a flute, and for the city to burn down!" Salamat said angrily.
city's burning right now." Afzal closed his eyes, then opened them and
spoke as though from another world. "Mice! You'll rue the day when I come
here with a flute in my hand! I'll come and command you to listen to what
the flute is saying. I'll command you mice to follow me. You'll come out
of your holes and follow me, until I reach the ocean, and I'll command
the ocean, 'Ocean! Take these mice!' and in a single swallow the ocean
will suck all you mice down into its maw."
what's the point of wasting time here? Come on, let's go to Gol Market."
Ajmal seized Salamat's arm, and they went out.
is a disgusting person," Afzal muttered, "and Ajmal too, and that flunky
Zavvar too, who's become even more disgusting now that he's an officer.
That whole tribe is made up of disgusting people." Afzal paused to look
at Zakir and Irfan, who sat in silence. "Yar, you two are good people,
beautiful people. How rare beauty has become in the world! Myself for one,
and then the two of you. Only three beautiful people."
those three, strike out my name," Irfan said with distaste.
regret it!" Afzal gave Irfan an angry look.
know the list is yet to be greatly expanded," Irfan said venomously.
gave him a steady stare. Abdul came by, making an inspection tour of various
tables. He saw Afzal, and said respectfully, "Afzal Sahib, you've come?
Shall I bring tea?"
Abdul started to leave, Afzal addressed him: "Abdul, you're a good person."
He pulled a diary out of his pocket, opened it and wrote something, then
said, "On this date, I struck Irfan's name from the list of good people,
and wrote your name instead." Then he addressed Irfan: "From today, you're
an ugly person. And remember that the world is never without beautiful
silently slipped away. In a little while, he came back with a glass of
cold water: "Here, Afzal Sahib, sir! Have some water."
looked gratefully at Abdul. "Abdul! You're a beautiful person." He drank
the water, then asked, "Where did those two disgusting men go?"
Gol Market the liquor shop has just been looted. They went there, and you
have to go there too," Irfan said in that same venomous voice.
gave Irfan a silent angry glare, then rose and went out.
Afzal is a free spirit. Why do you tangle with him?" Zakir said.
free spirit?" Irfan muttered. "Who here is a free spirit?"
mean, he's a free-wheeling type. He's not a political hack by any means."
it's like this: I can't stand fake revolutionaries, and I can't stand fake
all fake, including me." Irfan paused, then asked, "Do you know how much
Comrade Salamat's bank balance is?"
bank balance? Yar, he's the penniless type. What work does he do, to earn
enough to have a bank balance?"
you don't realize. He does a great deal," Irfan said meaningfully, and
then fell silent.
I don't understand any of this."
is there not to understand? Nothing is hidden any longer. It's written
on people's foreheads who they are and what they're doing." Then in a different
tone he said, "Well, yar, let's drop the subject."
yar, what's it to us?"
what's it to you? You're somewhere else nowadays." Irfan, whose face was
still quite tense, relaxed a bit and smiled. "Zakir, have you been getting
any letters from over there?"
I mean is, since coming here you must surely have written. And you must
have gotten an answer?"
he said shamefacedly. "I haven't written. And no letter has come from her."
mean from that time till now there's been no correspondence, no exchange
of messages at all?"
now you're remembering her? Yar, you're a wonder!"
how strange it is, he thought. Since coming here I haven't written to her,
nor has she written to me. The thick cloud of memories again began to envelop
him. A dimly lit road, then complete darkness, then an illumined zone,
a glowing memory.
tall Sabirah had grown, and how her bosom had swelled out, so that now
she always kept it covered with her dupattah, but those two round swellings
still made themselves apparent. Their conversations were sometimes loud,
sometimes soft -- sometimes so soft that his voice became a whisper and
Sabirah's cheeks reddened with embarrassment. After returning to the College,
on Surendar's advice he wrote her a long letter.
Did you mail the letter?"
I mailed it, but -- " He stopped in mid-sentence.
what if she understands?"
else did you write the letter? You wrote it so she'd understand."
if she understands, then -- ?" He broke off in the middle.
what will happen?"
think that -- "
sound of someone banging on the door: "Open up!" Suddenly returning from
the illumined zone of memory, he looked around in the dimly lit atmosphere.
Someone was banging on the door, and the people sitting at the tables were
watching the door anxiously.
open it, the procession is nearby."
no telling who it is!"
people from the procession, don't open the door."
on, open up, or else they won't care, they'll take revenge, they'll burn
the place down!" Abdul came out of the kitchen and went to the door. Pulling
back the curtain slightly, he looked out through the pane -- and was reassured.
Opening one leaf of the door a little, he hurriedly brought in the new
arrivals and at once shut the door again.
you banged so loudly on the door that you frightened us!" an acquaintance
said to the regulars who had come in.
how can frightened people frighten anyone?"
are things outside?"
There's a lot of destruction."
his heart and mind full of memories, he halfway heard and halfway didn't
hear. He had come back from the zone of memories the way a sleeper might
suddenly wake, with sleep still filling his eyes. The sleep-spirit might
then come like the touch of a breeze, and he would again be oblivious and
dead to the world. Memory-images were floating around him.
Sabirah was moving in his imagination, when she had come to Vyaspur for
a few days. In those days we two had come close to each other. When the
engine whistled, she too was drawn up to the open roof, where I still came
when I was home from Meerut during the vacations, to sit from evening into
night, watching the fields that went on into the distance, beyond the fields
the railroad tracks, beyond the railroad tracks the rows of trees. We both
stood leaning on the parapet, our heads touching. We watched the whistling,
smoke-spitting engine, and the moving, lighted cars that followed it. In
the day, these cars looked separate, but in the dark of night they were
like a row of lamps strung together and moving. The row of lamps was drawn
along, it came running along. When it passed, Sabirah would say with delight
and wonder, "What a long train it was, car after car. Which train was it?"
was amazed. "This train goes to Delhi!"
was silent for a little. "Zakir, you must have seen Delhi? What's it like,
only gone once, but after my exams, I'll go there to live."
How?" She was astonished.
go there and work."
was falling. The moon had not yet come out. But there were a few stars,
twinkling like distant lamps in the expanse of the sky. I looked steadily
at Sabirah's wondering face.
if I should get a job in Delhi then -- then -- " My tongue began to stumble.
"Then -- we two can live together there."
She looked at me with surprise, as though she didn't understand at all.
I went on looking silently at her; and then as though she had suddenly
understood something, she all at once slipped away.
next day she and I avoided each other's eyes, but when night fell, the
whistle of the engine and the clanking of the wheels again brought her
to the roof. Keeping her distance from me, she stood with her chin on the
parapet. But the train paused in its journey, somewhere in the shelter
of the trees, and the engine went on whistling. We drew nearer to each
other, very near indeed. So near that I could feel the warmth of her body,
and its softness as well.
that, we leaned on each other with more confidence as we watched the Delhi
trains come and go. With our chins propped side by side on the cool parapet
full of spots of dark mould, we watched the trains moving sometimes slowly,
sometimes fast. Now we no longer had any questions about this train, as
though our plan of traveling in it to Delhi had been agreed upon.
letter after letter came from Khalah Jan, saying to send Sabirah home.
Ammi said, "Ai hai, Batul is driving me mad! These are bad times,
how can I send her?"
Shall I take her?"
Jan looked hard at me, and said, "The times are very bad."
heard, sir, that there's been shooting."
He looked at the speaker with a start. The speaker was Abdul, who was collecting
the empty teacups. His face looked anxious. "I don't know, sir, but a man
just came from the Regal, he was saying so."
had come back from his forest, and was staring at Abdul's face.
are bad times, sir." As Abdul spoke, he picked up the tray full of empty
teacups and took it away.
think we should go out."
He looked at Irfan with surprise.
After all, how long can we sit here, shut up inside? And besides, it's
almost time for me to be at work."
what's the point of my staying on alone? I'll go home."
let's go out, and we'll see."
things had changed a great deal. He looked with wonder at the road. In
the morning, going to the College, he had passed along this road. Then
it was clean and neat, as usual. Cars, scooters, bicycles, scooter-cabs
were rushing to their various destinations. Buses packed with people were
in rapid motion. The fast-moving scooter-cabs were jockeying for position,
urgently trying to dart in front of each other. But now the whole street
was full of scattered bricks. Here and there among the scattered bricks
lay gleaming fragments of broken glass from bus windows and car windows.
A half-burned double-decker bus lay helplessly in the middle of the street,
but it wasn't blocking traffic. How much traffic was there to block? One
or two cars, trying to avoid the bricks, crept timidly past the double-decker,
and suddenly accelerated once they had cleared it. Then after a long time,
the sound of a bus noisily coming by, jolting over the bricks, and passing
he passed near the petrol pump, he saw that a crowd had gathered. The crowd
were staring with wonder at a long car that lay overturned, its four wheels
pointing toward the sky and its roof against the ground.
by the wondering crowd, he went on. In front of the National Auditorium
a furious crowd had gathered. A respectable gentleman, entering the Auditorium,
hesitated: "Excuse me, sir, is the speech over?"
do better to ask whether it's begun!"
the speech hasn't taken place?"
a young man said angrily. "The imperialist pimps, the sons of bitches!
Their time to make speeches is finished!"
dashing along, pulled over and stopped: "What's happening up there now?"
motorbike-rider pulled out a pistol, fired it into the air, restarted the
motorbike, and vanished.
His car must be parked over there?"
idea. The pimp looted the poor to buy it, let's burn it!"
welcomed him with a pounding heart and terrified eyes, made the gesture
of taking his misfortunes onto herself,/1/
lifted her hand and said tearfully, "Oh God, thanks be to You."
happened?" He looked at Ammi with surprise.
my son! I was terrified. People in the neighborhood were saying that there
was firing. My heart stopped beating. I was in a state of panic, I went
again and again to the door. I kept praying, Ai, God, my son has
gone out, let him come back safely.'"
Zakir come?" Abba Jan's voice came from the outer room.
my son, show your face to your father and then come back. He was worried
he entered the room, he saw that Khvajah Sahib was sitting with Abba Jan.
Where's my Salamat?" Khvajah Sahib asked the question abruptly.
saw Salamat in the afternoon, then he went off somewhere with Ajmal."
wretch must have gone off with the procession."
the procession? -- I don't know."
wretch has caused me a lot of worry," Khvajah Sahib muttered angrily. "I've
heard there was firing?"
there hasn't been firing yet, there will be."
a curfew been imposed?" Abba Jan asked somberly.
long can it be before it happens? May God the Most High have mercy on this
country." Abba Jan sighed.
In Amritsar -- now there was a curfew! Anyone who once stuck his
head out the window never got a chance to pull it back in again. The moment
a head appeared, they fired."
when was all this?"
this happened at the time of Jallianwala Bagh. What a great fire was started
then! For three nights no one lit a lamp in his house, there was so much
light from the fire."
Zakir looked with surprise at Khvajah Sahib.
son! Would I tell a lie, now in my old age? It was the biggest petrol pump
in Amritsar, the one where the Sahibs' cars were filled with petrol. It
burned for three days and three nights. The flames reached to the sky.
Then what happened was that the bank was looted, then the looting spread
to the cloth market. Then a curfew was imposed. It was a curfew like the
wrath of God! When anybody stuck his head even a tiny bit out the window,
there was the crack! of a rifle, and he dropped like a stone."
Europeans did so many cruel things," Abba Jan muttered.
everyone has oppressed us, the foreigners too and our own people too. Aren't
there cruel things going on right now?" He paused, then said, "But, really,
the English were held in so much awe. What authority they had! Proclamation
was made that whoever had looted any property should put it outside his
house by evening. After that, the houses would be searched. I tell you,
Maulana-ji, you won't believe it, but people who hadn't looted a scrap
of cloth put their own property out in the street. People even piled their
daughters' dowries outside their houses. By evening, the streets of Amritsar
were heaped with satins and brocades."
Jan listened in silence, smoking his huqqah. Then he cleared his throat
and said, "God bless him, my venerable father always told how in '57 there
was such a strict curfew that they had to keep even the bodies of the dead
in the house for three days sometimes. They couldn't even get a piece of
plain cloth for a shroud, and they couldn't even get a grave for the burial.
They would wrap the body in coarse sacking, and in the dark of night, making
sure that no soldier was watching, they would bury the body right there
in the lane." He fell silent, then said sadly, "What hard times Muslims
Maulana, now what times are coming upon the Muslims?"
Jan raised his forefinger toward the sky: "Only He knows."
Let me tell you one thing: we're destined to endure bad times at the hands
of our sons. I tried to make Salamat see reason: 'Son, your wits are wandering.
Why do you ruin your throat yelling slogans?' And what answer does he give
me, but 'We're going to change the system!'"
Jan said gravely, "Khvajah Sahib! In this world there have lived one hundred
twenty-four thousand Prophets, and has the world changed?"
sir, it hasn't changed."
when the Prophets haven't been able to change the world, how will your
boy and mine change it?"
you're quite right. The world cannot change."
Sahib, I've reached such an age -- what times have come and then gone again!
Each time I've seen the same result. Some hot-blooded types have had their
blood cooled forever. As for the rest, they've looked out for their own
interests, and made their own deals."
you're absolutely right. Please, Maulana, tell this to that bastard Salamat."
blood is still hot, he won't be able to understand it yet. It can only
be understood after living a long time. And Khvajah Sahib! I now no longer
intervene, under any circumstances."
very right. In Pakistan, there's no point in speaking out."
Sahib, there's no point in speaking out anywhere."
sir, exactly, exactly. Whoever speaks out is arrested. At least,
we've seen this happen in Pakistan."
Jan silently slid the huqqah over toward himself, took the mouthpiece in
his mouth, and was lost in thought.
Sahib sat in silence. Then suddenly he addressed Zakir: "In the afternoon
he was with you?"
he didn't go off with the procession?"
bastard," Khvajah Sahib muttered angrily. Then he said, "The truth is that
his mother is very worried. I told her, 'Count your blessings -- you have
sons. Be patient about your son,' but she couldn't be patient." He paused,
then said, "How could she be patient? One son went to Dhaka and got trapped
there, one son is ruining himself here."
you had any letters from Karamat?"
the worry, that we haven't had any letters from him."
your trust in Him." Abba Jan gestured with his finger toward the sky.
we do place our trust in Him. Maulana Sahib! That Karamat of mine is so
lovable, so obedient and respectful. Look how the Lord arranged it: the
one who's a vagabond and a ruffian is here grinding our hearts into powder,
while the well-behaved one has gone and got trapped there, poor boy." As
he spoke, he stood up.
Jan, smoking his huqqah, watched Khvajah Sahib. "Are you going?"
I'll go check at home. That worthless wretch might perhaps have come back."
Sahib, do pray for the wretch. His mother worries about him all the time."
Jan again raised his finger toward the sky: "He is the Protector."
Sahib took his leave, and Abba Jan picked up his huqqah and went inside.
Zakir was very tired. The moment he lay down, he began to feel sleepy.
He closed his eyes, but sleep was only hovering around him, it didn't descend.
He couldn't tell how long he lay there with his eyes shut, half asleep
and half awake. Suddenly someone banged on the door.
this heavy door, let me come in!'"/2/
Afzal's voice came from outside.
rose and opened the door. Afzal entered, and behind him Salamat and Ajmal.
Afzal first looked at him, then gestured toward Salamat and Ajmal: "I've
forgiven these fellows, you forgive them too."
couldn't decide how to answer Afzal. Afzal said imperiously, "I'm telling
you, forgive them! I've taken them under my protection." Then he said kindly,
"Zakir, these two are good people." As he spoke, he sat down in a chair
and addressed Ajmal: "Fellow! Bring out what you've got with you."
sitting down in a chair, put his bag on the table. Opening it, he pulled
out a bottle and placed it on the table. Zakir looked with fear and amazement
at the bottle. "Yar, not here!"
Afzal looked attentively at him.
said nervously, "Yar, you know my father is very strict in these matters."
laughed contemptuously. "Your father!"
that white-bearded fellow, that's your father, isn't he?" Afzal asked.
"Never mind about him, he's like my own child. I'll explain to him, you
go and bring some glasses."
can be explained to fathers." Salamat laid down the law.
you judge other people's fathers by your own?" Afzal said.
not my father!" Salamat yelled.
whose father is he?" Afzal asked innocently.
don't know, but I know he's not my father. I'm a bastard," he said, grinding
his teeth furiously.
there any proof?"
proof is that I say it!"
no proof. Fellow! Before making this announcement, you should have asked
did ask her."
ignorant woman refused to give evidence," he said in a grief-stricken voice.
Then he said sadly, "Our fathers are cruel and our mothers are ignorant."
Even as he spoke, he began to weep.
Ajmal saw Salamat weeping, tears began to fall from his own eyes as well.
why are you weeping?"
My mother is even more ignorant than Salamat's mother. When I asked her,
first she slapped me, then she began to tear her hair and scream."
stared at Ajmal, then at the weeping Salamat, and his eyes grew red with
anger. "You're both disgusting people!"
looked toward Salamat. Salamat announced, "Afzal speaks the truth, we're
refuse to take you under my protection. Disgusting people! Get out of here.
This is a virtuous person's house."
stood up. Ajmal put the bottle in the bag, and followed Salamat out of
You're a good person, forgive me."
what kind of talk is this?"
what?" He looked at Afzal with concern.
tried to give two evil spirits power over a virtuous person. I committed
a sin. Ai good person! Forgive me, I'm a sinner." As he spoke,
his voice choked, and tears began to well up in his eyes. "We're sinners,
and we're in torment."
A traditional symbolic gesture that usually involves running the palms
of the hands down the beloved person's cheeks, then bringing the hands
to one's own cheeks, making fists, and cracking the knuckles.
A line from a famous poem, "Voice in the Wilderness," by *Munir Niyazi.