All I Can

It almost feels like nowadays we are encaged as well, I thought as I put the chickens inside their cage. The summer is strange this year. Normally we are packed with tourists and visitors from all over the world. There is a lot of festivity. People come to our valley, take pictures, talk to us, share their stories, listen to our stories and the whole valley rejoices. Me and my friends called them “the new people”. But this year is different. It’s just us.
When all the chickens have entered their cage, I lock the door and wonder how unlucky they are to be caged all their life. I take the pot filled with eggs and hand it to my mother. She is working in the kitchen preparing dinner for us. I sit on the shelf, stare at the fire in the stove and ask her “Are things going to be same forever, ammi?” She is carefully cutting the tomatoes. The look on her face shows she doesn’t know the answer but she is trying to make up one. “It’s nothing Hamza, people are just making it up.”
Last year, there came some new people in our village. They were dressed differently and spoke some other language. They had a certain kind of positivity on their face. They smiled a lot and listened to us like we actually existed and we had something important to tell. They used to visit our classes and teach us, as well as our teachers. They renewed our furniture and added colors to our classes as well as our life. I felt comfortable being around them and tried to learn how they walked, talked and smiled. I personally liked those drum beating classes where we could learn music from the professionals.
One day they asked us to look around, pick a thing and imagine if it was living creature. And then write what it would feel or have to say about its life. I had a juice box in my hand, so I chose the nearest one. It was wonderful to look at the juice box with whole new perspective. I was accustomed to this idea so much that I couldn’t throw it in the dustbin believing I would actually hurt its feelings. I wish we all do it for the fellow human beings as well. This world will be such a nice place with no one to fight. I liked that idea so much that I have been doing it with everything around me. It has made my world very animated and connected. The only thing that don’t connect are humans.
As mother drops the knife accidently, I come back from my rabbit hole of thought process. God knows for how long I have been staring at the stove for no particular reason. I wish the new people were here. They always had answers!
I pick up the knife and see my mother’s face. She seems to be travelling in time like me as well. But unlike me she couldn’t come back so easily. I wonder what she might be thinking about. Were there any new people in her life as well, who brought warmth, rejoice and comfort which we being so close to each other couldn’t give.
Looking at ammi makes me feel like crying. There is so much silence everywhere nowadays. It haunts me. Everybody is lost in their head but very much disconnected to everyone around them. The only thing besides silence is fighting. I don’t know but we all are angry at each other for no reason. Ammi and baba fight so much these days. They were so humble and forgiving but now they scold me for minor mistakes. I sometimes get irritated over things and misbehave with them as well. It feels like Corona virus doesn’t enter the lungs but the head.
The next day I woke up early in the morning. I remember the days I was excited to wake up and head over to school. After school we use to do so much fun in the way. Schools are closed these days. And friends are busy as well. We hardly meet now. My morning routine starts with fetching the water bottles from down the hill. I hate this job but someone has to do anyway. I wake up and head towards my destination. There are very few cars and few people on the road. Maybe it’s just the villagers. Some shops are closed since last two months and those with daily basic needs are open. There was a heavy hail storm last night, so the road is wet and weather is cloudy. A cup of tea which otherwise had no value to me seems to be a big treat. I feel the taste of mild mixture of milk, tea and sugar in my mouth as I pass the chai wala.
I bade salam to him and he like my parents ignore concentrating on his inner thoughts while he makes tea for the few local customers in his dhabba. On my way back to home, carrying loads of water, I was gazing into every rusted shop and broken road, people living the same life always and always and always. We were already pushed into the nowhere and then came this disease. Which has already pushed us out from the running world. I wonder how far people have moved ahead of us. Wish this would end soon and we may start our journey again.
I was lost in my deep thoughts to avoid the pain in my shoulders due to the weight of heavy water buckets when I heard Zarghoona calling me from far. She was running towards me and seemed so excited.
After a while she reached me and asked “What are you doing here at this time? Aren’t you late for the class?”
“What class?” I asked as I thought she might be sleepwalking.
“The new people’s class, they are trying to reach us while our own teachers cannot. Every morning they will teach us on Radio.”
“Are you telling the truth?” I asked in astonishment.
“Yes, I came to buy radio with my baba. From now onwards I will take my classes as well”
She said as she started running back. Ten after covering some distance, she stopped turned back and shouted again with her two hands on his mouth in the shape of loudspeaker, “and yes, there will be stories…lots of them”
As Zarghoona left, I felt an energy travelling in my veins. It was a beautiful moment. I couldn’t feel the weight of load on my shoulders. The village that seemed so dull, was looking jolly now. I ran through the streets, among the people, trying to make my way.
After reaching home, I placed the bottles in the corner and reach for the radio, tuned into the channel and listen to our teacher telling stories.
The sound of her telling stories added energy into my body, harmony in my soul and purpose in my life again. I no longer felt like a scared child but a child who, in the hardest of times would try to do even a little thing that would bring tiny hope in his own life and those around him. And I think that was education all about.

Author: Hina Khan Palwasha

I define myself as a very creative, persuasive, determined, energetic and outgoing person with excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills and the ability to develop and maintain mutually beneficial internal and external relationships. I enjoy being part of, as well as managing, motivating and training, a successful and productive team, and can thrive in highly pressurized and challenging working environment.

4 thoughts on “All I Can”

  1. wow. How very special a post this is. Thank you for sharing you perspective. I do hope that there can be some change again for you all soon.
    Many Blessings

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