She was a beautiful child. Everyone’s beloved and nobody’s enemy. She had the grace that you could easily go crazy for and her hazel-shaped eyes gave that glare that could make you stare in forever. Barke was a blessing for her two parents and though her life was an absolute darkness, her parents saw their whole future revolve around her. They gave her the world.
Apartment number 04.
The apartment still maintained its vivid color despite the ever settling dust that shuffled about by undecided winds. Samira still managed to keep it clean and neat by garlanding the compound with different species of flowers placed inside the cracked plastic buckets running round the bed-sitter near its green sadolin colored walls, the plants with tendrils emanated from the broken concrete on the verandah and clung on to the wall accompanied by ivy, pictures were stuck on the walls with tape that had been worn out by air over time and the only light source was a yellow bulb whose soft glow was responsible for the slim cosiness of the apartment.
She stared blankly at the light that filtered in through the chink in the curtains. It was mocking her and the jolt of annoyance that was bubbling inside her simmered to the next extreme level. Was she the only one that felt vulnerable? She stared again and shed a smile, if He liked it, it had to be. Coming from a strong Islamic background, Barke was continuously taught that with just bread and plain tea, you are still rich because a thousand of people still wish that that was their plate.
She remembered vividly what her late grandmother had told her, ‘soory kee vridhii hogee’. These were words of pacifying that always flowed in her mind whenever the devil tried to get the better of her. She called her Khushboo, a flower, some fragrance. She always reminded her that the sun would rise again for her and she would live happily like all the other Indian kids in her locality. Maybe she was giving life to an already withered flower; maybe she saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
The digital clock on her dashboard flashed 6:00 am in neon green and she knew that it was time for the therapy to begin. It had been a normal routine and it made her weak bones feel safe and better. Samira rushed into Barke’s room and carried her to the living room where the doctor was going to diagnose her and exercise her muscles.
The doctor always looked forward to this patient that though at a very tender age, had so much hope in the power of Allah. Barke always wiped the tears of the people that sympathized with her; she supported those that whimpered around her like puppies in agony. She was strong for the weak but weak for herself when she was in the closed doors. It was painful to live in pain and to have undergone so many tests that brought more negativity but it was more painful to hear all the other kids of her age recite what Allah had brought in the Quran in a very melodic voice with no vagueness and with the proper fluency.
Her therapy classes ended and Samira carried her back to her room. It was tedious, I bet, but is there love that is greater than a mother’s love? It was tedious, I could bet, but is there a woman that is stronger than a mother? As she gently cuddled and felt the warmth of her mother, Barke’s body felt frail. She felt fragile. She wanted to express it to her mother, how much her presence felt but all she could do was to stare and smile. She wanted to let her mother know that though her body was weak, she had the stand of a king. She wanted to let her mother know that one day even in her wheel chair she could make her proud. She wanted her to know that she meant everything and in as much as she was trying, she felt that she could not fight one more time.
She had watched her friends move a pace ahead in their pronunciation but it still never felt right in her tongue, she had watched people move with their legs to do all their endeavors but it still was not the right time for her, she had seen them laugh and talk about all they could, and, yes, she also wanted to let them know that she was so good in braille but braille was insignificant to the normal.
She recollected a poem that she read somewhere,
My mind is on the inside, looking out
I’d love to tell you what I’m thinking about
But my voice is on the inside, looking out
I can smile but I can’t speak
Even that may take a week.
As she relaxed on her bed, she felt different. This time her sun was going to rise. It was that day that her grandmother had told her about. Her heart was racing, threatening to pierce through her chest. Her already scrawny body felt disobliging and she knew that the time was right. The time for the change was here with her. She shed a smile once again, closed her eyes and it was now forever….
Salma Abdulatif Yusuf