Sunday, August 15, 2010

I dream of Paradise

The story of Hasan, a 5 year old Hazaara boy from Kabul.

He sat outside his new home. A palace some may have called it...... and he stared vacantly at the road. Yellow dust everywhere. And that’s how it had been forever. He thought back to those days a few months ago.

His father would wake him up for Fajr Salah just before dawn to come pray with him. He would fuss over for a bit and then Abee (as he would call his dad), would tickle his feet, and Hasan would giggle and get up. His father would then carry him on his shoulders to the Masjid. They would ablute from the little sprinklers outside, offer Namaz, and at the end, Abee would make Hasan sit on his lap. He would then hold his palms together and teach him to ask from Allah. He would recite and Hasan would repeat..... it was the same everyday...they asked for happiness to family, security to their masters whose house they guarded, and a little home in paradise.

And Hasan would ask, “Abee, what is Paradise?”....He asked this question everyday as he loved listening to the answer. Abee would then reply, “In paradise there are green trees....big and’s that you can climb and shake their branches. And there will be fruits that taste like honey. And big fountains and wonderful clothes. It’s the reward Allah will give Hasan for being a good man.”....Hasan would listen to it enchanted... thinking what big green trees must look like. His father would then ruffle his hair, lift him up and take him home as they both chattered on the way.

But now it was all different. His parents had been shot at by people Hasan could not recognise. He was now an orphan in the custody of his uncle who made him do all the household chores. Hasan didn’t mind it as he could now spend hours playing with his cousin Eina....the first friend he had ever had. As days passed by, one morning the postman brought an envelope for Hasan’s dad. On hearing the man had now deceased, he uttered a curse and tossed it at Hasan. It was a postcard of what looked like a beautiful white mosque, with trees in rows and fountains of water, set in the centre of a clear blue sky. Hasan looked at it in awe. He had never seen anything more beautiful. He had never seen such perfect colors and the sheen on the paper made it glow. He and Eina decided it had to be Paradise.

And then one day, his uncle sold him to Mahdi for money. Mahdi was a powerful man who was a child trafficker. He adorned children with gems and showcased them and their ‘talents’ to visitors where they presented ‘performances’. Hasan was taught that too. He hated it. He hated himself for the things they made him do. He wanted to shout each time, but his voice was silenced by fear. Fear of being beaten up. And so he cried and closed his ears to shut out the horrible sounds of applause from the guests of Mahdi.

After one such performance, a man who was Mahdi’s guest, came to him, pinched his back and as Hasan tried to run away, the man tripped him so he fell hard on the floor. Bruised and terrified, he ran to his room and clutched on to his blanket. As he sat there, he looked once again at the postcard. He brushed his fingers against the picture, looking at it with longing. And he closed his eyes and dreamed his favourite dream for sometime now.

There he was in this magic place that Abee had called ‘Paradise’. He ran among the trees as his father tried to catch him. He touched the soft texture of those leaves. He splashed water from the fountains and then his father carried him in his arms, close to his heart, into the Masjid just like old times. He dreamt of family. He dreamt of freedom. He dreamt of Paradise that he felt he no longer deserved as he had failed to be a ‘good man’.

In our everyday life, we often take for granted the million good things that we already possess. In our desire to attain more and make our lives better, we often forget that there are people who still yearn for our lives.....who yearn for basic security, who yearn for freedom and happiness. Despite all its shortcomings, there is no other place in the world where I’d rather live, than in India. It’s given me a safe shelter, it’s given me love and it’s given me peace.
Everyone’s ‘motherland’ does not do that for them!

Nir and D2- who wrote awesome stories and made me think I should try too.
The Kite Runner- My fevrestesttt movie. It’s where I saw about the life of people in Afghanistan. The story above is a modified excerpt from it.  Highly recommend everyone watch it once. And yes, there is the book too.....Haven’t had a chance to read it though.