F I C T I O N – F L A S H
Khala jaan was calling. But Shaheed would not respond. He had gone and hid in his room as soon as he completed his Maghrib prayer, his plate of Iftar still unfinished. He stared despondently at the sky from his window, which was a gloomy dark now, save for the fading glow of twilight at the far west.
He remembered a time when he loved looking at the moon the night Ramadan would depart, to return once again after 12 months of eager anticipation. He would gaze at its brightness, and dream of what the next day would be like, what colour panjabi he would wear, which relatives to ask salaami from. But that was before four years ago, when the irony of fate struck him harder than it could ever hit anyone else. That dreadful evening still haunted him in his memory, clear as day. The screams, the hurried voices of people, the distant siren of an ambulance. The horror when he caught sight of his parents’ bodies, beneath the overturned car. That moment of deafening silence when the doctor said it was useless trying to save them since they were already part of this world no longer. And that crescent of a moon, that looked like it was smiling, whilst everything around him turned black.
Eid wasn’t a day to celebrate thirty long days of fasting, not anymore. For this day had taken away Shaheed’s family, the two people he loved most. The night of the accident, he had vowed that he would fast every day of the year for a lifetime, if God gave him his parents back. But he knew that wasn’t possible. Now, he would just wish Eid would be over soon, so as to not remind him of memories he didn’t want to recall.
This is why, when the rest of his friends and family were indulging in the delight of increasingly frequent meals and visits from others, he would hide in the dimness of his room — in the same mournful way he was today.
However, this time, the crescent-shaped moon had gone into hiding just like he had, nowhere to be seen. It’s as if Nature itself were trying to sympathise with him, by being a dispiriting, cloudy dark to mirror his emotions — as if it were atoning for its sins. He wondered if the moon would reappear like a frown, upside down, to put him out of his misery. But that would not be necessary, since the black, lightless night sky was already God’s way of apologising to him, telling him to be happy. That Eid wasn’t a time to dwell on past experiences.
Seeing that, something had changed in him. The grief he harboured wasn’t half as agonising anymore. In his mind, he was grateful. Grateful for the fact that he was still alive, that no more of his loved ones had suffered a similar fate, when all around souls were fading into oblivion as he breathed. He realised he had been so heavy-hearted, he hadn’t had the time to thank his Khala and Khalu jaan for all that they had done for him after his loss — the unbounded affection, the endless hours of effort to ease his pain and put a smile on his face. He realised this time, for him, Eid would be the day the year started anew. This Eid was an Eid to be grateful for.
The very next day, as Eid was finally about to leave, the moon shone in the darkness of the night sky once again. It was the same thin sliver of light, only brighter this time. Shaheed looked up and smiled. The moon smiled back.
Abrar Jamil is a sucker for anime, ridiculous food combos, and would eat almost anything with chopsticks. Send him anime suggestions at [email protected]