Hamid tossed in bed just like every night and tried to fall sleep. He could clearly hear the ticking of the bedside clock as the minutes dragged on. He turned over to see his wife Mahtab sleeping next to him and his one year old son Mohsin in the crib by her side. Mahtab had come to UK just over two years back from Pakistan and Mohsin came in the world 10 months later. He was the apple of their eyes, a sweet and bubbly child, full of laughter.
Mahtab stirred and in a sleepy voice said " Not able to sleep? Should we go to the doctor? Are the dreams still haunting you?"
He said " There is nothing a Doctor can do, you go back to sleep, It is nearly time for Namaz."
Mahtab's brows creased with worry, she checked on Mohsin and slipped back under the covers.
Hamid got up from the bed silently and started to prepare for the morning prayers. After his prayers he sat near the window with a cup of tea and waited for the sun to rise.
The sun rose behind the trees behind the Apricot trees and Hamid could hear the hustle and bustle of the market close to his house. He saw people going about their work, women off to the bazaar to haggle with the vendors. He saw his mother serving green tea, Roht and Apricots to his father before he left for work. His mother beckoned him to come and have breakfast, Hamid got up from his chair and moved towards his mother. On the way, he stubbed his leg on the sofa and the image of his father and mother evaporated in front of his eyes. His eyes searched in vain but realised that it was just a dream, he was not in Kabul anymore but far away in a foreign land.
Hamid went to check on Mahtab and Mohsin who were sleeping peacefully oblivious to the storm raging in his mind. He had not been able to sleep for quite some time, the doctors called it post traumatic stress disorder and said that he was suffering from extreme anxiety.
How could he let go? How could he forget that fateful night? Every time he closed his eyes he could see the faces of his family floating in front of them. They called out to him and whispered in his ears. His sisters putting Henna on their hands, his younger brother flying a kite on the terrace, mother making his favourite food Lavash and Qorma. His father engrossed in account books and his grandmother chopping vegetables.
Hamid was a student at the University, he wanted to be an Architect and design beautiful buildings. Life was so carefree and full of promise, and then everything fell apart. The bombs started falling, destroying everything in its wake. The whole city became a battle ground with gun fire and mortar shells, the dust and the smoke. Hamid's uncle lived in Pakistan, his father decided to move the entire family there before the border closed down. They made preparations for the dangerous journey, food was packed, jewellery and cash was hidden in the bundles, clothes were sorted and a vehicle was arranged for the journey to the border into Peshawer.
They were to leave at dawn the next morning, the entire family tried to rest in the night and get ready for the tiring day ahead. Hamid was restless, he was unable to sleep, he got up and stepped outside the house to take a last look at the city he loved so much. He walked towards the Apricot trees in the back garden and looked up at the Moon. He could hear gun fire in the distance and the 'thump', thump' of bombs exploding on the other side of the city.
Suddenly he heard a deafening boom, Hamid was thrown to the ground. He got up on shaky legs and saw a big hole in the roof of his home. The trees near the house were on fire, the windows had blown apart. He ran towards the house, his feet crunching on broken glass, Hamid called for his family, he screamed out their names till his voice was hoarse, no one answered. He could see the moon through the roof now, he hastily ran to his parents room and saw that a whole wall had caved in where the bed was, he ran to the room where his sisters slept and found them lying on their bed as if still asleep. He shook them, cried out their names but he knew that they were never going to wake up from this sleep. His brother's room was next to his parents and Hamid could never forget the scene of mayhem. Now, Mansoor will never ask him for money, to buy kites ever again.
These images kept flashing in front of his eyes, his entire family wiped out in a single night in front of his eyes. Try as he might, Hamid could never forget them, he still mourned their death, he wondered why he was still alive, he had no answers, he just let the silent tears fall from his heart.
P.S: This is a work of fiction. I was inspired to write this story after speaking to an Afghani friend. Her husband lost his brother after a bomb hit their home in Kabul. Such stories make me feel so small and petty for ranting on things which are hardly significant, especially so when you get to meet survivors and listen to their stories.
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