Saturday, 21 January 2012


I have been thinking for a long time. Now my mind can take it no longer. I slowly rise from my seat and with heavy steps move to the window; outside, the world looks as bleak as my room. I can partially see my reflection in the window glass. Are those my own tears? The warmth on my cheeks tells me they are. I wipe them with the back of my sleeve. I put my hand on the glass. It feels cold, just like the environment around me, Iike the chilling frost inside me. I think of those who are my beloved yet far away from me, my wife and my daughter.

It all started five years ago. On account of my demanding job I was posted to Gilgit. Accompanying me were my wife Aisha and our eight-year-old daughter Maham. Our belongings had already been transported to our destination. Now it was just the three of us riding in our car. We had completed half our journey. The road had started to bend and curve as we entered the hills. Maham was sleeping in the backseat while Aisha was beside me in the passenger seat. The exotic scenery that surrounded us enchanted both of us.
I don't know what came over her, she suddenly asked me

'Usman, how much love do you have for your family?'

Completely taken aback by her question I pointed to a mountain in the distance and replied jokingly
'My love for you is greater than that mountain'. i am serious,' she replied.
I searched her face for that playful look or that twinkle in the eye but the expression on her face told me that she was not in a mood for humor. I inquired why she was acting like that she said that she could not help feeling as if a disaster awaited us.

‘Stop being such a pessimist, I want you to know that I shall never let any harm befall my family. That is a promise’ I admonished her.

She seemed somewhat satisfied by my answer,
We stopped for a quick lunch and moved on. Maham was trying to count the number of trees that zoomed by while both of us were enjoying her antics. All of a sudden hell broke loose. The strip of road ahead was covered with frost. As I took a turn, the car skidded over the slippery surface. I rammed the brakes but to no avail. I could only hear the screams of Aisha and Maham as our vehicle toppled over and fell into the abyss by the road. The world turned topsy-turvy for a second and with a thundering crash all became still.
It took me a short while to regain my senses. It was Aisha’s screams that brought me out of shock. I looked sideways and realized another horror stood before me. Somehow the car had been miraculously saved from falling off the cliff stopped by a huge tree. Had it not been for that tree, we would have surely been dead by now. But still we were about ten feet below the level of the road and beneath us was nothing but a tree trunk and beyond that a mass of air that was very deep.
The car was lying on its side. The driver seat was upwards and the passenger seat was towards the bottom. The door of Aisha's seat had been torn open and even though both of us were wearing seat belts she was dangling in the air, halfway and screaming her head off. My first impulse was to reach out and grab her.
I was still strapped to my seat. With one outstretched arm I held on to Aisha's hand and with the other I clung to the seat. For a second my vision looked at what lay beneath Aisha and my heart skipped a beat. I could see gray snow capped peaks hundreds of feet below waiting to claim a victim. And if I let her go she would drop to her death. But even though I tried with all my might I could not haul her up. Beads of perspiration were appearing on my forehead. Blood oozed from one of my hands, some broken shard from the shattered windscreen had probably cut it.
‘Usman, please don't let go! Please don't let go! I don't want to die! Aisha pleaded in a panic stricken and desperate voice. I tried to concentrate but my strength was failing me. I could feel her hand slipping through mine.
’No! Pull her Up!’ my mind said.
‘I cant !’ my body replied.
My grip further loosened.
‘Sorry Aisha’ I said through clenched teeth, so quietly that only I could hear it. Her hand wrenched through mine and with a heart splitting shriek she plunged below. I will never forget her expression, those eyes widened in terror, the lips opened in a scream of protest. I closed my eyes to block out the scene of her death but somehow my mind perceived it, her body a speck of red and white, lying on the jagged rocks below. She was gone. The promise I had made only hours ago had been broken already.
Maham had received a fatal brain injury. She went into a coma and after a three-day struggle with death she too gave up. Thus my family, which was the only asset I had, was lost. I was all alone in this world.

Suddenly I am jolted back to the present. Evening is approaching; pulling on my coat I walk out of the lodge. The gray, misty streets seem un- welcoming. My breath comes out in white puffs. The wind picks up slightly, ruffling my hair.

I slowly drag my feet towards an unknown destination. Memories of Aisha and Maham once again wash over me, some painful but most of them fond. My heart seems to be splitting up. Tears start flowing from my eyes. This time I let them come. The saliva in my mouth turns sticky. The mucus in my nose starts running. I kick a can in front of me and it goes cartwheeling down the lane and out of sight. I cannot hold it back any longer and scream:

'Why didn't the car fall altogether? Why am I left to agonize over the dead? Why didn't I die with them? In fact I am dead, I may be breathing but that does not make me alive. Those that made me alive are no longer. Suddenly the winter sky bursts into a confetti of white snow.

But the sorrow I hold inside myself is cold, colder than the snow itself.


  1. One must pay attention to his family, as the family would be with us even when the job is not !

  2. These words - reUsmanzed, Usmanve, sUsmanva were made by you with the name Usman...correct?

    I think, what ever the answer which Usman would have given, wouldn't have mattered in the end, if it was to end this way. May be, if he had given even the perfect answer(I don't know what), the pain in the end in Aisha's expression would have been greater.

    Sad, but life.

  3. And then everything falls apart.. One cannot hold on for very long. At a point he does break.
    Very touching story. Well expressed.

  4. is it a true story? if it is.. buddy may God give you the courage to bestow the pain and if it's fiction than you are the master of emotions!

    Weakest Link

  5. Loved this post...great piece of writing...superb....though the climax was poignant but quite touching:))

  6. Thank you for the comment :) Glad you liked the post :)