7: 40 am

Kemcol 2007, the annual magazine of King Edward Medical University is out!
My short story 7: 40 am has been published in it.

7: 40 a.m.

Muhammad Awais Aftab
2nd Year

The Intrigue of the Past, glimmers through tears, memories and dreams!
Awais takes a closer look...

It was 7: 40 a.m. And it was raining. The digits flickered on my wrist-watch, which had the words “Water Resistant” stamped on its face. What was its purpose, if not sheer mockery? No amount of downpour can wash away the past; the scars that time leaves behind are indelible. As I stood in the rain beside my mother’s grave, just one day old, I felt myself being showered: not by rain droplets, but by memories. Memories damp, and memories cold. Once they had been warm, but no longer…

It was at 7: 40 every morning that my alarm used to wake me up with its shrill noise. As I would open my eyes, I would see these numerals flash at the dial of the table clock. After a few seconds, I would hear the firm, loud voice of my mother: “Sahil! Wake up! Time to go to school!” And I would get out of the bed reluctantly, cursing the whole world. Later when I joined the college, the ritual didn’t change; just the word ‘school’ was replaced. It brought a sting to my eyes now, realizing that I would never hear that voice again. The alarm would continue to ring everyday, but for me, life would have become very different.

I walked back to my house in the light drizzle. I saw my father sitting in the lounge, a newspaper spread out in front of him. He lifted up his gaze at me for a moment and then resumed his previous focus. His face was impassive like a stone. Questions that I had never asked myself jumped up in my mind. Glaring facts that I had been avoiding suddenly became impossible to ignore; my mind was ensnared. How could my mother have ever loved a man like him? She could not have. It seemed impossible. He wasn’t cruel, but something far more painful: Indifferent. Could I remember ever seeing the two of them laugh together like I had seen other couples do? Could I recall a single smile that my father had directed at her affectionately when she brought him the tea every evening? No, I could not.

I headed for my mother’s personal room; her library, and where she kept all her important documents. I was greeted by volumes bearing the great names of literature: Keats, Tennyson, Faiz, Sartre, Beauvoir. Were these who had consoled her in her life of unbearable solitude? In the corner of the room was a painting: her artistic skill and finesse had always left me breathless… now it evoked a sigh of grief. The picture showed a girl trapped in a net of thorns. Her eyes: a study in horror and despair. Her lips: a curve of agony. Her ghostly pale skin: pierced by spines, bleeding. There was so much pain lurking in this house. Why had I never felt it before?

I began to go through her books. In an inconspicuous cabinet, I found a dusty, old diary. All diaries promise revelations, but could my tight-lipped mother have shared her secret with anyone? I flipped through it; it was all blank except for the first page, which offered me nothing but a cryptic couplet:

Were my yearnings for you so sinful?
That I was sentenced to a life of death?

These words could have been directed towards anyone but my father; I felt certain of it. What desires she kept hidden in her heart, who can tell? How she had suffered in silence, who can disclose?

As I sifted through more of her documents, I discovered a carefully preserved page in a file: It was the roll number list of her class in college. I perused it, searching for any familiar name, and my eyes were arrested on roll no 192. The name was scratched off. The rest of the list was intact and insignificant. I studied the names a bit more closely. The roll numbers were present alphabetically, and 192 came in the start of S portion. Suddenly it occurred to me: could this name be Sahil? My mother had told me in childhood that she had named me Sahil because my liquid eyes reminded her of the seas. Perhaps that was only the partial truth. Perhaps there was an additional reason; something that was far beyond my comprehension at that time?

An enigmatic verse and a scratched-off name were the only answers she had left to the questions hanging in the house, haunting my mind. I knew I would never find out the truth. I could only guess. My mother had lived with her secrets all her life and she had taken them with her to the grave. Perhaps, now, at last she had found peace?

The next morning again at 7: 40, I went to her tomb, and wept for her. And again, it rained…

Unanswered questions haunt from the beginning till the end... sigh... just the way we toiled to answer certain questions for kemcol 2007. * The exasperated EDS


Delilah said…
Not only an excellent piece of writing,rich in expression and detail but very touching and close to reality as well. I always wanted to write on this topic but the way you have penned it,beautiful.
Abdullah Shahid said…
That is an excellent piece of writing...bravo!
gaya. said…
Awesome.....just one word cant do justice to it,but it is close to reality.Brilliant piece of writing.:)
gaya said…
Sorry for not commenting in detail before.
First of all I must appreciate the written expression is brilliant.

For the story,everyone can relate it to reality one way or the other.I found the following points particularly interesting.

Sometimes life does not give what one deserves,so unfair.

Sometimes fate twist the circumstances in such a way that one has to surrender to life.

And well sometimes not being expressive can be excruciatingly painful,may cost you your whole life.

It makes me wonder is this life is all about,You get this life once,if its ruined then there will not be another one.harsh reality.:(

I really liked the way everything is conveyed.Kudos to u.:)
Kishore said…
Very well written, in a manner that speaks directly to the reader's heart.

And as for the story - very, very touching. Especially the couplet.

Towards the end, I was expecting more :)