By Hadiya Javed – OIII
It was a slight drizzle, the street was dark and gloomy, and Ahmad was walking leisurely towards his home when he saw a young man in his twenties, clad in rough trousers and baggy shirt, maneuvering his way to the beach. Cautiously moving aside, he tried to follow him camouflaging himself amid the trees that paved the alleyway. Finding a suitable place to stalk him from, he could see the young boy moving away. The strange sound of footsteps was now growing fainter.
He had found the source. The boy as if inching towards the infinity of sea. Ahmad called out to him “Hello there! There are no lifeguards around, you better come back.” He repeated his plea as he threw off his bag on the sand and raced closer to him, lest the sea swallowed him. As Ahmad waded closer to him, he sensed his presence and turned to Ahmad. “Go away!”he screamed as he wiped his face and quickened his stride towards the unlimited bounds of the sea. Still quite far from him, Ahmad realized that moving closer would only ensure that the boy would reach his destination sooner.
“Okay! I won’t step any further. But stop and listen to me,” Ahmad called.
“I don’t have to explain myself to a complete line stranger,” he shot back.
“You don’t have to. But don’t you think you are too young to drown away all your dreams, wishes and hopes? I really think you should reconsider,” said Ahmad as he tried to move closer.
“Don’t you dare move further!” Ahmad froze in his spot. “You have no idea what I have gone through. I’ve seen it all! There is nothing more!” he said choking back his tears.
“Have you ever felt that queer happiness when you hold your daughter in your arms just after her first cry? Have you felt the myriad emotions you feel when she clasps her tiny fingers around yours and you make a silent promise to love and protect her till your last breath? Or have you felt the hopelessness you feel when all that you have is snatched from you in the wink of an eye and the stand in amidst the rubble of calamity life left you with?”
“No.” he replied, pulling Ahmad back from his trance. “There is lot to life young man.” Ahmad continued as he looked into his dismal eyes. “Have you seen meteor shower on a moonless night? Have you ever heard a flower blossom? Have you climbed the tallest mountain and etched your name on the rock? Have you built your own enterprise and seen it drop down like a house of cards? Have you picked the remains and started again? Have you laughed like there’s no tomorrow? Have you sand like the world was deaf and have you cried like a baby? Have you?”
“No.” the reply was feeble and Ahmad could see his face soften. “There is so much more boy, now come back. This side is where we have it all, the happiness, the sorrow, the disappointment, the hope, the fear, the love, everything!” Ahmad said as he stretched his hands towards him welcomingly.
He saw him stagger towards him and hug him tightly as he broke into tears. “There, there, you’ll be just fine,” murmured Ahmad as he led him back to the shore. He picked up his bag and offered to drop him back to his place. Ahmad held him close as they walked towards his hotel in silence. Upon reaching, they shook hands.
“You will do great! I can see the vision in your eyes, the horizon. So you better be up and kicking! Ahmad said as they hugged each other. He could see the will, the determination in his eyes. The will to stay alive, the determination to strive for everything he wanted to accomplish.
As Ahmad bade him goodbye and walked on the moonlit lonely road, he took his wallet out and stared lovingly at the photograph of his graceful wife and cute daughter. “Looks like you guys will have to wait before I cross the skies for you” he whispered to the picture as the moon and the stars smiled at his aspirations.
He now had a new promise to keep.