Feb 27, 2011

By Ailsa Menezes

"What happened"
"A stone cut my foot, it HURTS!"
"Well see it later. Father's anger will be worse than a thousand cuts if we are late. The  sahib ji will be here soon"
Five-year-old Zahra bravely tried to rein in her tears from the stamped the little droplets of salt water threatened to become. Following her slightly older brother she hobbled towards the formation of rope and cloth resembling a tent which she now called home. Crimson drops trailed behind her staining the sandy floor.


Saima or Sam (as she preferred to be called) stomped around her room in a fury. She simply could not find her new bandanna. It was almost time to leave for the party her 'friend' was throwing and she had to look her very best. Only the bandanna was needed to complete her look. It was one of a kind, designed especially for her and now it was missing.
Growling she yanked open the door of her walk-in closet. A quick scan than different articles of clothing flew through the air resembling the journey they had originally made from the various corners of the globe they were purchased from.


The flurry of activity encompassed within the tent-like structure could have beaten a mini tornado.

Zahra's mother, her chaddar tightly wrapped around her was gathering their few possessions in a tiny bundle, skillfully arranging the pile to appear dwarfed in order to extract greater sympathy from the arriving benefactor. 

A smaller figure similarly clad tried sweeping the straw mat upon the muddy floor with a bushel of twigs gathered from the nearby shrubbery. The dry wind was no help heralding more micro-specs of 'loose' earth back in from the gaps puncturing the walls around.
Her efforts were a feeble attempt to counter the bitterness felt at the rejection offered to her from the hope of impending nuptials. Her dowry a portion of cattle kept aside during the fifteen years of her life swept away. She was still reeling from the beating her father had inflicted upon her a few days ago in an attempt to vent his frustration over the expense of the new clothes and accessories bought for the wedding. All now lost, as debris lying somewhere; worthless.

Sam popped out of her now empty closet striding over piles of vulnerable fabric. A quick examination revealed that (in her efforts) she did indeed break a nail.

Just Outside the family's youngest two-year-old Ahmed claimed Zahra's attention proudly displaying the mud-pi(l)es created during his sojourn, where he was kept insight but out of the way. A quick pained smile rested briefly upon her face in greeting. she limped over to a pile of rags left in a corner and choosing one, bound her foot as best as a five-year-old could.


"Is baji ok?" the maid peered in, on alert, experienced with this sort of explosion. (After all she had been with the family for years). An explosion like this was a common occurrence.
"NO!" Sam blazed," Does it look like I am? I can't find my bandanna it's late and I need it now! It’s the only one that matches my outfit."
"Is that the same one you were....um.....having a problem with last week."
"Yes, that's it." Saima snapped suspiciously. "Do you know where it is?"
"I think," the maid replied unfazed "it was in the room downstairs. I'll go check"
"Yes, you do that!" Sam answered snottily passing a manicured hand through her straightened hair.

She rummaged through her dresser drawer in search of the new 'Fabulous Fake Fusia Nails' packet sent over by her cousin from, well, somewhere in Europe. Time to do some damage control.


Zahra watched wide-eyed at the scene unfolding before her. She stood behind her mother and sister just inside the 'tent' as her father prepared to meet the 'guest'.
With the built of one who consumed at least a buffalo whole, decked in a crisp white shalwar kameez suit and dark gold rimmed sunglasses stepped the sahib ji in front of the humble abode.
Blinded by the flashes the rivaled the sun's glares of those ready to document such instance of charity.
A package was thrust into waiting arms and off wet the entourage to the next needy families.
Zahra stepped outside as her family went to rummage through the treats given to them. She watched quietly the whole scenario repeated in the next couple of tents.
Turning to go in, a movement caught her eye. A piece of cloth had escaped the ravage inside and fluttered over near her feet. It was soft and caressed her skin.


Sam looked up from her newly repaired nails.
"Found it yet? “She inquired seemingly calm yet an aura of danger around.
"Well," the maid faltered, if this was the calm she did not want to see the storm.
" ‘Well’, What? “A plucked eyebrow rose.
"It was kept in the room with the piles of clothes your mother bought"
"And" the brow rose higher.
And the maid swallowed and said out in a rush, "it was sent over with those to the flood victims." And left.
Sam lay still a moment then wailed.
"AHH.....My outfit is so ruined."


Back at the camp, as the sun dipped into the horizon it's failing rays caught onto a splat of bright pink bound securely on a little girl’s foot.


Sana Riwzan said...

The beginning was interesting and though it slowed down a bit in the middle (becoming almost too drastic), I found the ending very thought provoking. Good job!

Asma Afzal said...

The contrast is amazing.

Sania Bilwani said...

Everything ties up so neatly in the end. I loved it!

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