Monday 15 September 2014

ShortStory 2014 Shortlist, Ummul Fazal Fatima Khan

Destinies Intertwined

She was standing on the edge of the huge mountain; the lake was visible at the foothills, the green aura around it mesmerized her and she kept rooted to the ground. Her feet could feel the heavenly touch of overgrown grass leaves, she raised her gaze and the retina absorbed the trees with different greenish hues and shades, lined straight against the lake as if strict bodyguards were on duty. Green waters were moving frantically at the slight touch of the wind, dancing on the beats of soft music of the surroundings. She relaxed her limbs and inhaled a good amount of air, the raw smell of mud, clothed with lush verdure encaged her senses and liven every bit of her skin. She closed her eyes and let herself loose to feel the gentle wind tickling softly through her body.

The beauty of the place was still captivating. She remembered the moment when she first set her foot there and had instantly fallen in love with the green bowl of the nature.
‘The first time she had been there! The forgotten roads of memories always bring the sweet and bitter experiences together, of the journeys once undertaken. So many years have gone by and so many happenings have come along but for her it was like yesterday. She had kept herself occupied since the life took a lot away from her.  But when she thought of a break, the first place that came to her mind was the one where it all had started.

The past years came afresh to her mind when she had visited this locale for the first time while on a vacation with her family and had met Aditya, who turned out to be her awaited love. He had stepped into her world and had changed everything. He had given a meaning to her life. Everything was glittering and gold and she was lost in its magnificence when suddenly the fate showed its cruel face and burned the golden pages of her life. He was snatched away from her in a dreadful accident.
She was broken and dispersed but learned to live anyway. Collecting her broken self she moved on. But the sensation of his endless love always lingered in her consciousness. She had moved on for the world full of spectators but somehow deep inside she had not accepted the fact that she was never going to see him again. She had gone to every place where they both had created unforgettable memories together hoping that maybe, maybe he will step out from hiding and will touch her nose smiling as he always used to do. But to no avail, none of her efforts bore fruits. She was now actually heartbroken.

She was standing there for almost half an hour but her feet didn’t progress an inch. It was the last place where she could expect him to be. If it turned out fruitless…What will she do??? ‘If’, it has proved to be the most terrible word for her. Her mind was not allowing her to think more. The site was haunted she could bet on it. The silence was creating a hollow deep in her chest and her heart was craving for him intensely that she felt as if she will lose her sanity.

She was trapped there, her mind was stopping her from progressing and frightening her from the bitter consequences that could be, but something was pulling her towards the lake. She could imagine him waiting for her beside that hollow oak tree near the green lake where they had first met.
It was deserted and was always secluded making it a favourite spot for the people in search of solitude, so did she came to know the place and later came to know ‘him’. Though it had lost the intimidating charm it used to have, the recent disastrous flood followed by the heavy rainfall had destroyed the whole valley. The lake had also suffered due to its severity but its location at the foothills caused it minimum damage.

She had made her decision and had started walking down the rough slope with much care, not only because of the rocky and broken path but also due to the fear of losing her faith. What if she encounters her fate lolling out its tongue at her once again? The mere thought ran a shiver down her spine.

The fear of losing him once again stopped her feet several times but the pulling did not stop and she finally landed on the flat surface of the valley. The atmosphere and the surroundings were much scarier than it had seemed from the height. It was not deserted, it was deadly silent. The environment possessed a negative effect. Her last hope had slipped out of her hand. She passed away and landed on the bare land with a thud. The shock mingled itself with the low sobs. As the truth was sinking deeper into her, a ruffling sound violated the silence. The footsteps on fallen dry leaves and twigs, there was no mistake. Her body took no time in getting alert; secluded places do have their own dangers. She crouched over the ground and searched for something to use as a weapon, a sharp rock brushed passed her fingers, grabbing it firmly in her hand, She gathered herself and stood upright, however the sound was now gone. She paced fast towards its direction. A low thud of someone falling wandered into her ears.

She launched herself and after removing some branches from the front she found it. A boy of nine or ten was lying there, unconscious. Her stiff body relieved a little. She checked his pulse. He was alive. A new energy pressed through her vein, she carried the boy in her arms and brought him upwards where her car was parked. The path that had taken an hour to cross was left behind in a few minutes.
The boy was admitted to a local hospital, miles away from the lake. He was instantly taken into the observation, the negligible amount of water and food in his system had made him weak. Apart from that, there were some more injuries; damaged skin, misplaced bones and some infections but thankfully at the end of the day he was fine and whole. She had put all her efforts forward to protect him and to restore his health and had spoken to the most experienced doctor of that hospital; he had assured her of his recovery. Though gradually, he has to recover.

She entered the room. The boy was trying to sit straight. She pressed his shoulder and made him lie down.
“Who brought me here?” A faint and weak voice came out of his throat.
“You are safe. That’s more important. But what happened?? Why were you hiding there??” She enquired.

He looked into her demanding eyes; he could feel there was no escape. She was a stranger but it was a relief to come in contact with a human after so many days hiding in the trees. The boy was left alone on a mountain road when the ravaging waves of the overflowing river flowed in, abolishing an entire part and swept away the people standing on it including his family. He could not even see their floating bodies or hear their high pitch shrieks. A moment everything was fine and then there was water all over the place. The next thing he remembered was that he was standing all by himself on the destroyed piece of frozen charcoal which once was a national highway. He had somehow managed to descend and had taken shelter near the lake as the small animals, brought by the water from the wild and perplexed by the calamity were forced to enter human dwellings.

“I lost my family. I am all alone” The boy cried bitterly; as he relived those frightening days of his life, the phase when he could not even imagine a day when he would be in a hospital, getting treatment, alongside a human.
“You are not. You found me. And I found you” She hugged him tightly. Her beloved’s thought strayed back to her but this time it brought a smile on her face. She now silently hoped him to watch her from above the vast sky.

“What is your name by the way?” She asked, rubbing away his tears with a damp cloth.
“Aditya” The handkerchief slipped from her fingers as he pronounced his name with a tone of casualness in his voice. She looked at his face; the child was in his own pain, not knowing how his name has affected her.

“I am happy that I found the happiness again at the same place” A few words managed to tear out of her confused thoughts and she giggled unpremeditated at her weird beliefs.
 The place again had granted her the source of comfort to her shattered soul, when she most needed someone to bring a smile on her face and to enlighten the bleak paths of her heart. It surely was her lucky place.

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