“Ammmmiiii” The scream was torn from my throat&I pointed wildly in his direction,my mother,wordless,flew outside as if the breeze carried her.
I run behind her while she turned him over.His eyes fluttered open once and his meadow green eyes, glanced at us,first in fear,then relief & finally peace.My father.
Later that day…
“Johara,did you…did you clean up the spot where… Abbu …fell?” My beautiful mother looked at me.
“Umm…I’ll do it right now.” And I opened the door to the field of ivory snow,where there was a crimson stain against it. I was very young at that time,probably about 9 but I knew,we Always had to be cautious. I bent down and scooped some snow over the blood. The iciness seeping through my gloves. Wrapped in the innocence & forgetfulness of childhood,I formed a snowball &threw it on our servants roof.
“Johara!” Oops. “Coming Ammi!”
The warmth of the room my father lay in, curled around me and I moved closer to where he lay,propped against the pillows,pale but with a weak smile. “Come here my sweetheart.” And I slipped my tiny hand into his stronger one. “Today, I thought I was going to go.”
He shivered slightly, even though it was toasty warm.
“Johara…I know you’re still small,but if you start reading salaah now… it will be with you always my tomato.”
He always called me a tomato,because of the way I coloured up whenever I was nervous.
“My parents didn’t make us read Salaah ,even though they did,so I didn’t bother too much. But I want to change that. Today, if I died, how would I answer for all the salaah I missed? Allah forgive me.”
He glanced up& gazed at my mother with his green glance. “Stop giving her a bayaan. It’s enough you almost died …can’t you rest? Why must it be you who has to act like a hero” She broke down in tears.
“Begum… Please…” But my mother had already left the room. My father sighed. “The first thing we will be asked about on the day of Qiyamah will be Salaah,if that goes well,everything will go well but if we don’t have a good record of reading Salaah… everything after that,no matter all the other good we have done,is going to be tough.”
“I’ll start reading Abbu. Don’t worry…and and…maybe Ammi will join us one day? “ I said hopefully,wanting to diffuse the mysterious tension between my parents that I couldn’t comprehend at that time.
“My sweetheart,what will I do without you? Come,will you help me to make wudhu?”
As the stars climbed higher into the velvet black sky&the hour grew late,I heard my parents talk in low ,fierce tones in our drawing room.
Why did you have to take part in such a mission? After months without a word from you…
You know what life is like at the border Seema. After all you…
How can you bring that up! I don’t want to hear another word!Samjhi?
Seema,I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to.
Troubled…I took my ear away from the wall& fell into blissful sleep.
“Johara… dolly,chalo,wake up…it’s fajr .” My father gently called out,balancing on his stick.
“But but…I’m tired.”
“Too tired to get into Jannah?”
“Ouch,ouch… “ “What happened Abbu?” I leapt out of the bed in alarm. Looking at the leg where he had been stabbed. Then I saw his smile&realized he had just tricked me.
“since you’re up,chalo…wudhu.”
I just completed fajr and peeped out of my window to see the sky turn pink when I saw two shadows,fall across our garden gate,I squinted into the shade under our mango tree… one of them looked up and spotted me before I hid behind the curtain… it was not common for strangers to arrive here.
Little did I know,he was not a stranger or that one day, we would change each other’s lives for all of time.