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The Honeyed Truth

The Honeyed Truth

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The Honeyed Truth

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The Honeyed Truth

The Honeyed Truth Written by: Farheen Chaudhry Translated by:

Muhmmad Shanazar

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The Honeyed Truth

Dedication

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The Honeyed Truth Dedicated to all those newly born children whose mothers threw them on the heap of rubbish to conceal their own crime and they became the food of street dogs and cats

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The Honeyed Truth

Contents Preface Foreword Acknowledgement 1. There Across 2. Cactus 3. Vipress 4. Sanctioned 5. Wet Wings 6. Circles 7. White Teddy Bear 8. Creeper’s Tale 9. Nests 10. Pearl, Fish and Mermaid 11. Termite

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The Honeyed Truth 12. Doors Of The Heart 13. The Shawl of Thursday

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The Honeyed Truth

There Across‌ The atmosphere was wrapped in the smoke of sadness. The sight from all around was blurred. Far away the birds were circling into the sky. From the burnt remains of houses smoke was dissipating into the air like futile sighs. The sky was frozen, silent and motionless. A few moments he felt as if he had descended on some alien land. He lowered his eyes, collected his dispersed strength and tried to stand up straight but frightful pain seized his body. He began to gasp in sweat. His clothes were dingy and blood flowing from his right leg, had layered a black crust on the thirsty lips of land. All sight was in front of his eyes along

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The Honeyed Truth with all abominations. The debris of his house was scattered like a heap trash as vain reality and vain matter. His dead mind awoke all of sudden. Where had gone all residents? The images of members of his family, his wife whose cheeks got dimples while she smiled, his two small daughters who ran all the day after clucking hens and his mother who beside the hearth remained busy in knitting something with half opened hopeful eyes, all began to float in front of his eyes. He got up with a jerk as if someone touched his leg with a burning iron bar. But unheeded to that pain he ran laming. He uplifted each wooden beam, he dug the debris of bricks, he got his fingers injured, he called out the names of each member of his family but he couldn’t find those faces whom he had been living for. There were half burnt pieces of cloth, broken pieces of pots and luggage was scattered. In one corner hen laid prostrate, the same hen for which he had many times quarreled with his wife; that broodless hen was of no use, it didn’t lay eggs even. Many times he asked his wife to get it slaughtered but she didn’t agree to him. She always smiled with dimples on her cheeks and said, “How long we have been eating its eggs, why don’t you let her eat with rest grain just for a few days?” He saw a small blue shawl beneath the collapsed wall; he prodded the place like a mad man. It was the same which on the pressing demand of his elder daughter, he asked one of his friends to bring that shawl from the city last year. How excited she was on having the blue shawl! Her mother insisted her to take a lot of care of it as it was precious one. It seemed as if petals blossomed in her lowering eyes. Her red cheeks obtained the colour of passions, then why she shouldn’t wrap herself with the blue shawl.

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The Honeyed Truth

All of sudden he felt he was weeping, he didn’t know how long he had been weeping in silence having half burnt pieces of the shawl in his hands. In life sometimes such moments come as when a man becomes oblivious to himself. He could stop there no more, reality and dream everything had changed into trash. He stepped a few steps when he tumbled and saw a human arm partly buried in the debris, he restrained his shriek with a great difficulty. One human arm was peeping out from the wreckage, the stretched hand who knew to whom what question was asking. He began to run blindly with the laming leg and without knowing any direction. Who knew how many static eyes and how many blue shawls he had to encounter on his way but he ran and ran empty minded. At last the benevolent wings of darkness enfolded him. When he opened his eyes, the sun was over him with full splendour, the swarms of birds making circles in the air had come close to him. Thirst had taken his throat into its claws, and he got up baffled. The doomed village where he was born and learnt how to walk was at some distance. It was the village where he got his love, and then that village at the border, had been devastated by the giant tanks and bombs of the enemies. That village was consisted of a few houses; in fact it was a small Eden on the Earth. The people were very simple, when someone by chance happened to come from the city; they used to listen to his mysterious stories with profound and keen interest and then they sat at night around the burning firewood loosing themselves into world of fairies. “It might be someone would be lying wounded like me,� he thought. Thirst was taking him into its claws. He looked

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The Honeyed Truth around; the bushes had already turned into ashes. He looked at some greenery at the distance. He tried to take ahead a few steps but he totally had become decrepit on account of exertion and weakness. Dragging his leg, he headed towards the greenery. “There might be any enemy hidden,” fear from within again whispered to him. But Man takes care of even his last breath no matter how much trouble he is in. On slope of the hill, there stood among the bushes a few trees, all appalled. Apparently there was no sign of any living being. At distance he saw a fountain and he forgot everything… the debris of his house, the blue shawl and the wound of his leg. The next moment he was gulping down the draughts of water. When haziness of the environment dissolved, he beheld a women lying near, her dress was blood-stained. He got handfuls water from the fountain and began to sprinkle on her face. “Get up, get up,” he yelled impatiently. The woman opened her eyes; she gazed at him with impressionless looks for a few moments, then a wave of unacquaintedness emerged and engulfed her into the ocean of fear. “Get up, get up… don’t be afraid of me, I am your friend, my house too had been devastated,” he tried to express his pain in a 9few words. The eternal sentiment concealed in the heart of woman raised but stuck in the crevices of her face. She placed her hand on the arm of the wounded person. “Ah! Ah!” The unfortunate woman had lost her power to speak. It seemed as if Adam and Eve once again were discarded from the door of heaven. He trembled while dragging the woman; he left her in a ruined house near the trees and went out in search of some food for her. He brought some edibles, wood and pots from the debris of houses. In one pot he brought some water and dragging his leg he entered into the ruined house. “I burn fire, you cook something,” he said.

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The Honeyed Truth “Oon! Oon!” in reply she began to dress his injured leg. On that moment all pains of Adam awoke, he realized that he was injured… badly injured… he was grief-stricken and wanted to weep. In the village overshadowed by some ominous apparitions, the night was dancing with dishevelled hair. They both were engrossed in their own thoughts and as if they were breathing in some nightmare. The man became alert on a sound of weeping, he looked towards the woman, she too got up, and she in silence made him a gesture to sit at the same place and lost herself in the darkness. After a few moments she was standing there with a child. The man got up to carry the child but she desisted him to do so. She forgot all her pain when she embraced the child and began to feed it with brimful bosoms. Perhaps she had forsaken her infant daughter lying in the hedges; her cries might have merged into her own. The morning sun beheld with surprise these three human beings who were having beneath their heads the cushions of pain and they were snoozing profound sleep. This ruined house had become their refuge. They were unaware of names and progeny of one another; they were there under one roof on account of trust. When everywhere grows fear of forest, one has to trust even in the shadow of wall. Whether living like this they spent years or centuries, one day they were sitting in the ruined house, they heard a rumble of tanks. He leapt out but the women stopped him to do so. “No! No!” She said with imploring but fearful eyes. He restrained himself but rumbling sound of the tanks was nearing. They held their breath and kept looking at one another. The vulture of uncertainty began to hover over their heads. “Let me see, they might be friends,” the man whispered and began to see through the broken wall of the ruined house. He came back with harrowed face and

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The Honeyed Truth murmured, “Enemy!” The face of woman gave impression lest the infant daughter should cry; while she was sleeping the woman pressed her against her breast softly. She also moved away a slight and began to peep out but all of sudden returned. Her eyes glowed with happiness, they were her own troops. The man felt as if his own house was to change into debris again. The blue rags of shawl and dimples of cheeks began to confound. They both were again sitting beneath the vulture of uncertainty. The demons of race and colour began to dance around them. All of sudden weeping of the infant daughter shook them both, recognition of the past moments woke in the gazing eyes. The woman while feeding the infant from brimful bosoms gave a smile of acquaintedness to the man and the vulture of uncertainty flew away fluttering but despised.

Cactus They both while sitting on the bench, beside the lush green enclosure were warming themselves in the sun. Hameeda looked at them snappishly, placing her bag on the nearby bench, she sat there quite bushed. She had to make a lot of notices and Saba hadn’t reached yet. “Flaties doesn’t suit as compared to Sharaton and Avari, but we have to just pass the night, the cheaper will be the better.” It was Ali, his tone resembled the style of Siskaari. “But Sharaton is something different; no doubt we shall spend money, the taste we shall have in Sharaton can’t be compared to Flaties”. The tone of Arif became piquant.

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“Listening name the image of Sharaton emerges in the mind,” Ali laughed with a meaningful laughter. It wasn’t known why in the body and soul of Hameeda needles began to prickle, ants climbed on her feet and began to slither onto her neck. She made a lot of effort to restrain herself but at last the trigger of her tongue went off. “You shut up cheapsters!” They both tuned round all of sudden, and beheld her attentively, they saw her from top to toe and lashes of lightening leapt from the eyes of both of them. “Hameeda what happened to you?” Arif said. She became more indignant. “Such an “Unromantic name!” If someone pronounced, it seemed as if he called her to dust or wash the wares. It seemed as if ants then had entered into her brain. But seeing leaping fire from the eyes of both of them, she sent on them a mute curse and went to the department with hurried steps, and the one who was notorious for being Evil Genius went to the abyss of matter. On the very next day posters of Flaties were hanging on each wall and tree of the university. She entered in the university along with Saba; she became stunned with opened mouth. She felt ants climbing slithering on her body and then peeping through her eyes. “Wow!” Saba smiled. The wide opened lips of Hameeda closed sluggishly, she wanted to close them tight but they again opened. She muttered a masculine abuse, “They….” “What happened to you?” Now it was the turn of Saba to open her lips. “Nothing!” No one knew why she sneaked her eyes from Saba and spread her anchal on her chest. Saba was aware of her nature; she knew that she would blurt all in a

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The Honeyed Truth few moments. It wasn’t in her control to conceal anything to herself, and happened the same. After a few moments, she was telling Saba, screeching her teeth what happened yesterday. “But how you descended in the tale?” Saba spoke in surprise, “what hurts you whether they spend nights in Flaties or Avari, let them do.”Uff! I shall have to tell you that in Convent ‘Flaties’ was my vexation.” Hameeda confessed the fact with blushed face and then fixed her anchal aright. The pose of Hammeda removed Saba’s confusion. She peeked stealthily between her waist and shoulders, then she spoke after having a long breath, “For God’s sake Hameeda, don’t be so weak, we shall resolve the matter…but first of all finish your tea.” No one knows where Ali and Arif were, but she felt every object of the university was winking eyes at her. It seemed as if her secret revealed to the whole world and was laughing at her weakness. While thinking so she began to correct her anchal on her chest frequently. She was comparing herself to a king who on insistence of cheaters, putting on supposed silky dress had gone to amble among the masses and a child indicated by pointing his finger, “the king is naked.” To Hameeda each branch of each tree was a finger and each brick of each wall was an eye, an impish eye with satirical smile. She looked at the face of Hameeda with pesky eyes; her eyes fell on her marble neck and then halted on her locket. It was lurking around the curves of her neck. She held Saba’s hand and sat suddenly on the stairs. Simultaneously being overcome by hatred, affection and anger, instead of seizing the throat of Saba, she placed her hand on her shoulder and then rested her head there on it. They had remained very close to each other since the period of their college education. They teased the teachers by whispering together, they spent themselves in study the days

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The Honeyed Truth of examination with deliberate annoyance. Attractive laughter made Saba popular in the university and Hameeda was proud of her friendship. The magic of her own eyes was such as if the standard of love had been only the eyes, she might get the title of ‘Queen’ but she was defeated on such heights as where wings of the angels burn too. When students of the university began to move around Saba, she became vigilant; her heart wished that one smile from the strained smiles of Saba might fix on her too. Some stern masculine face brimming with mannish emotions should impale its leopard-like looks on her body and she impulsively should begin to flux obviously in the same state of emotions. But no one gave such comments on her as on hearing her ears should become red, except a few sentences of the vagabonds, or at least she might take one or two drifted steps. On the other hand boys wished to caressed Saba with their looks, they wanted to slice her with their comments. They passed by the five foot eight inch boney structure of Hameeda avoiding her lest they should be hurt in case they strike against her. They didn’t know that the pole had the current of 440 volts. When Ali expressed his desire to Hameeda with thousands of pleadings to get arranged a meeting with Saba, her heart wished that she should wrench his neck. “Don’t I have any importance to you? Didn’t I do nothing to attract you, sometimes by changing my hair-style, sometimes by raising morally and immorally, angles and curves of the body, sometimes by making my thick eyelashes more substantial by applying to them mascara?” Then who should make her understand that those people had become more practical. The magic of mascara functions to enhance the sale of mascara. Seeing Ali immersed in the love of Saba, she felt as if all mascara of her eyes began to melt and spread all over her face and body. The kajal of her eyes spread and moved down like

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The Honeyed Truth gelatinous black tar and she time and again wiped her face and neck. “Are you all right?” Ali said. “I don’t know, I am feeling dizzy.” She was really exhausted. “Come! I shall take you to the department.” Ali extended his bulky hand to Hameeda, she felt as besides wiggling of tar, ants began to slither around her neck. At that moment she urged for the Storm of Noah or prayed to be devoured and preserved by the riven earth. But wishes are the wishes; the reality was scaring her in the form of an old woman with projected teeth. She composing her soul went somewhere far away; she got free her hand from Ali’s and said dryly, “No thanks.” After remaining aloof for several days, at last she hoisted on the shrine of love the flag of ‘Dear Brother’ and finding all routes barred she began to talk to Ali. On the other side Ali didn’t spoil a single moment and began to disclose the state of his heart and feelings about Saba, Hameeda according to her wish, began to reflect all words to herself and she placed the remainder before Saba. Saba after listening to Ali’s messages used to say, “They all drool on each girl in the same way.” “Then why not on me.” This sentence descended on the heart of Hameeda like damnation but she merely stared at Saba. One day all of sudden it revealed to Hameeda that Saba was a flirt of the lowest kind. Now with him and then with someone else. Whenever her heart wished, she sat in the front seat of the car of someone, and passed by Hameeda, trampling her heart like a guided missile. Each time she thought that she would deal with Saba with harsh tongue. She would rebuke her and break friendship of such a loose character girl, but when she used to see Saba’s face imparting no comments, she

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The Honeyed Truth would say hardly, “What kind of adventure was the new one?” “A one!” Saba used to wink her eye naughtily, make a circle with thumb and index finger, and place the circle on the troubling vein of her neck and all distress of Hameeda get imprisoned in that circle. “Why not I too!” Many times Hameeda thought while hitting gently the round sarsens with the toes of his shoes. One day dreams of Hameeda’s became reality when a common black boy of biology who had been looking at Hameeda with sweet looks for several days became successful in taking her to the cafeteria. How could that poor boy succeed? In fact it was Hameeda who made him successful, and in a few days she after going through the experience of front seat reached his room. Fulfilling all demands of Mother Nature, she came back where she started. Thrill merely proves thrill that only simmers blood, and it doesn’t have any concern with the emotions. She began to feel herself like a balloon which had been defused and it had crumpled into a piece of rubber. She began to experience depression! “But the face of Saba expressed something else; my face tells narrates another tale,” She said to her own reflection. But the mirror remained silent; she entered into the arena enthusiastically to assume the face of Saba. It isn’t necessary for a thrill that the mountains should be lush green, sometime one has to surmount drab and dry rocks, so many of the boys had overcome that grey mountain, but Hameeda couldn’t get access to the cliff hanger which she had been waiting for. “Which are the routes you are heading on?” Saba objected.

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“Had you ever consulted me?” She replied bluntly. Saba read her face with surprise, and on seeing alien inscription Saba darned her lips. Then both of them began to move in their own circular zones, now befuddled, then restless and then depressed. Final examination was nearing, one day Saba stopped her on the way, “Listen! I want to share a news with you.” Who knows what kind of tinkle was in her voice that Hameeda had to halt though she didn’t want to stop. “Wouldn’t you ask?” Saba peeked into her eyes, but Hameeda kept silent. “Ali has proposed to me and I have accepted the proposal.” Saba announced in a decisive tone. Hameeda felt as if all walls of the department began to crumble down on her one by one. She composed herself groaningly and an acrid sentence slipped from her mouth abruptly, “And what happened to the list of your lovers?” “Come on Hameeda, at least you shouldn’t say so.” Saba’s face corroded a little. There sputtered in Hameeda somewhere deep a mini firecracker. “Come on I shall tell you the whole affair.” Saba began to drag her, but Hameeda wanted to avoid and said, “I am getting late, the library will be closed.” Hameeda felt a little solace finding her arrow hitting the target. She

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The Honeyed Truth wanted to leave Saba panting alone in the same state, but it seemed as if Saba stabbed her arms with the daggers made of stone. Her face was extremely serious, so much grave that Hammeda became scared. Saba hissed, “I many times tried to refrain you, but I don’t know how and when you strayed so far.” “What do you think about yourself, what will become when Ali becomes aware of all affair?” Hameeda’s thirst putting on the slough of apprehension came on her tongue. “Ali knows more than you do, and that all too that you don’t know.” Saba’s tone was so much confident and stern that Hameeda winced from within. Saba spoke fearing something unexpected, “It wasn’t the truth that you and the stupid like you were thinking of, keep in mind, the sap of all flowers isn’t to be guzzled, some flowers carry such a fatal smell that the flying insects hovering around with the motive to enjoy their bewitching fragrance, fell onto the ground at distance, and those who come ahead are pricked on the points of thorns or poison kills them, no one plucks the flower of cactus. Do you understand?” Hameeda became stunned with the opened mouth and she felt as if she really was the pathway to Flaties which was being trodden from this end to that one under the feet of every passerby.

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Vipress (Though in literature the metaphor of Vipress pertains to gender yet I used it here alternately in other sense.) For the last few days sometimes faint and sometimes shrill, weeping, hissing and mysterious sighs were wailing around her. While sleeping and waking, rising and sitting, walking and halting suddenly was listened some hissing sound which went on spreading and it changed into cries and then cries into wailings. The body of Meena became taut like a wire, trembled with a slight sigh, her steps began to ramble, breath became rickety, and she became exhausted as if she reached after travelling a long journey in centuries. A strange depression and hidden

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The Honeyed Truth dread, far away somewhere in the abyss began to scratch the veins of heart, who knew why ominous sigh had stuck to her. She got life as other get, like a sour and sweet tablet, from outward sweet and within sour, but that sigh was neither sweet nor sour, it was poisonous and absorbed in her each nerve. Then no one knew in which frequency many moans used to become a part of her blood. Outside there was silence when for the first time Meena listened to the sigh at the night. It can’t be recalled which part of the night it was. While sleeping she felt as if some warm hand touched her cheeks, the hand was warm and as soft as cotton, she jerked and opened her eyes, she was still feeling warmth of the fresh touch on her face. For a few moments she lay motionless like a slab. She turned her neck round unhurriedly; her husband was sleeping with his back to her. On his broad shoulder a mole was throbbing, his thick hair with a slight curve on his neck looked very handsome. Meena many times asked Asif to keep his hair short, but he loved the hair as he grew them lovingly. He often laughed and set aside her request, his long curvy hair gave Meena a girlish look. She took a long breath, her hand slipped and rested on his shoulder unintentionally but the sigh that emerged from the side infused in it shivering. Meena shivered from top to toe, her breath held for a moment, she looked fearing at the other side but nothing was there, except profound silence, and deep darkness. Moan was again heard from somewhere near, Meena clang to the back of Asif as cuscuta clings to some wall. It seemed as if she had been waiting for centuries for some third sigh arising from the womb semi-darkness, but silence proved victorious, and the sleep placed her hand on the lashes of her eyes. Early in the morning, there spread a mischievous smile over the lips

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The Honeyed Truth of Asif, he looked at Meena with the sharp eyes, her bushed face startled him. Are you okay? Yes! Sure? I am fine! Just for nothing my sleep disturbed at night. The face of Asif again frowned, “You must have waked me up.” Meena who got blushed on such titillating soft sentence gave no impression; she was looking at him with dowdy empty eyes. Asif became worried. “It seems as if your heart hasn’t settled in the new house. I shall return today very soon, we shall go for outing.” Meena wanted to tell him that in the new house everything matched her desires and needs. That area, greenery, lawn and those flowers, all were the part of her dream…but that sigh! She couldn’t speak; just a few days had passed since they were joined in a beautiful relation. She didn’t want to give impression of being a superstitious and timorous woman, just for nothing. Asif possessed all manly qualities those any woman desires for and Meena according to him was his ideal too. Then why should Meena entrust her weakness to him and that merely on the basis of superstition. She spent many days in restless, on her depression; Asif was really upset though reports of her pregnancy test were normal. A strange kind of melancholy had taken the house in her claws. Meena amputated the feet melancholy and expelled it out of the house; tense face of Asif became relaxed to some extent.

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The Honeyed Truth After a long rain of many days, a beautiful golden anchal of sunlight was spreading over the scene. Meena wrapping around that anchal was thudding each pore of her body. She felt each limb of hers relaxing and intoxicating warmth closed her eyes. She half-lengthened her body in the chair, She began to see with half-closed sleepy eyes, the boats of clouds floating in the blue sky but the voice of Chemyan broke fascinations of her thoughts. “Baji Jee, Baji Jee!” She was coming out of breath dragging on the ground behind her, her gaudy colourful shawl, out of breath, all shivering, pouring fear out of her each figure and limb. Meena wasn’t mentally prepared for such a calamity as that was; she opened her snoozing eyes a little with annoyance and looked at Chemyan leaning against the back of chair, as if she was saying, “Blurt and be off.” But suppressed impatience of her face, jerking with the currents of exposure forced Meena to sit straight in the chair. She changed her posture, turned her head, became alert, looked at her face as if she expected revelation some mystery. “Baji Jee, Baji Jee, where there is a rivulet!” Chemyan’s breaths were still hysterical, some untoward incident had clogged her tongue, and it gave tongue to all limbs of her body. Each part of her body was twitchy. “Then what happened there?” Meena’s tone expressed curiosity, Chemyan’s eyes bulged, her lips quivered on account of intensity of expression and she hardly mumbled, “there…there a child has been found.” Meena felt as if the sky halted it movement, the universe became static. “Child!...what kind of child!” “White…with blue eyes… it was lying there in a shopper!”

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The Honeyed Truth In the tone of Chemyan that child was blathering ghoon, ghoon! After imparting the secret Chemyan breathed deeply and banished the whole smog out and then became relaxed and sat on the grass with a thud, she took off her shawl and stretched her feet. “A child in the shopper!” Meena listened to her own murmur as if coming from under the world. Then all of sudden a ball of fire rose from her belly and stuck into her throat, all body spurted and began to burn. She felt prickles of thorns in her throat; she rested her head on the back of chair and began to see in the blue space which had no end. Chemyan was unaware of speed of the twister working in Meena, she sat squatting on the grass. She took off her sandals and placed them nearby carefully. “We don’t know who blackened the face… but the child is very beautiful… I can’t tell Bi Bi Jee!” In the tone of Chemyan love and hatred both spoke turn by turn. “Sin is often beautiful,” Meena wanted to say but her voice had lost in the universe. She wanted to ask and say a lot to Chemyan but words standing aloof away from her existence were mocking and staring at her. In an effort to speak, she merely was uttering unintelligible expressions. Chemyan broke her conversation; she apprehensively looked at yellowish faced Meena. “Bi Bi Jee how painful they are…what has become of them.” Chemyan’s thoughts returned after striking the hollow eyes of Meena where somewhere in the abyss there lay a round pulpy child in the shopper…was moving limbs… wanted to breathe but the cold cruel layer of shopper was imbued between him and his life. Perhaps Meena in a state of drowsiness, sobbingly asked herself, “Where is the child?”

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The Honeyed Truth Being forgetful of the plight of Meena, Chemyan again began to speak, “Two couples of the slum are childless, and both of them quarreled for the sake of child. Some old men interfered…Rafique got the child… the same Rafique whose wife was unwell in the previous days.” She stopped for a moment; her breath again had become unsteady… “Rafique’s house is being decorated with bunting… he placed an order for four dozen cold drinks too…he has invited the whole locality to his house… hasn’t he done well?” Meena wanted to stand but she felt as if her feet had become the feet made of stone. She felt buried in the chair; she listened to her own sepulchral voice as if coming from some forsaken corner of the universe. “I don’t know whether Rafique has completed some documentation lest in future it should become a trouble for him.” “All formalities have been done… in the police station… Maulvi Shahib also recited Azan into ears of the child.” Chamyan twittered in such a tone as if she herself completed the process from birth of the child to adoption … she spoke rebuffing her own thought, “Those who throw in shoppers, don’t come to inquire after.” That night Meena had being waking late at night, for the dread of sighs which had been rising around her the whole night, had been changing into cries, and the wailings… Meena being appalled looked at Asif lest his sleep should disturb on account of those voices… but he was sleeping a sound sleep… calm and indifferent. On the screen of Meena’s mind, a pulpy child wrapped in the shopper had been gabbling and crying…then tearing the shopper …floating in the air… came mewling around Meena with moving limbs… as if she wanted to embrace the child

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The Honeyed Truth but then wafted away… and at last the child drowned into darkness… only suppressed sighs remained behind around her… and the lap of Darkness became inhabited. All night the existence of Meena remained in the grasp leaping flames… they were blowing the whole body around her tummy… fire was burning in and outside too… she didn’t know how many glasses of water she gulped down… each part of the body was blazing … how hotness should have lessened. With half opened eye-lids, and piercing arrows of light, she listened to Asif saying Chemyan had high fever ….. he was issuing instruction about medicines, perhaps he mentioned about his hasty return but Meena had become forgetful. When her eyes again opened, Chemyan was crying under the burden of a new secret. “Baji Jee, Baji… that child died at night!” Chemyan was crying so much as if her own lap became empty. Meena’s body rose as if by itself….she became cold and while straightening the cushion she said, “When?” Chemyan wiped her eyes and nose with the corner of her shawl and then spoke, “At the previous night… no one knows for how long he had been lying there beside the rivulet, cold might have caught him, he died of pneumonia.” All of sudden Meena felt rising around a conflagration of sighs, but that conflagration chilled her to the bones; she fell onto the cushion strengthless. While seeing her plight, Chemyan ran outward, horrified to bring for her a cup of tea. She addressed Meena, she felt as if everything had finished, and she was standing on the earth alone.

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“The woman who bore the child might be aware that there was darkness… there were wild dogs and hogs… reptiles … and death.” Meena held the hem of dread and paleness of death began to descend into her existence. Seeing her pale, Chemyan jerked her face; she raised her head a little and began to pour a few spoons of tea into her mouth. When a few drops of ambrosia went down through her throat she muttered, “How much large heart might have been of the womb-burnt woman!” “Whose heart?” First of all Chemyan couldn’t understand her on account of her plight, then spoke, “Large heart Bi Bi Je! That bastard was a witch! A witch!” She cast away the bitter fruit of the forbidden deed that she enjoyed herself… if she confronts me, I shall choke her.” Chemyan seeing changing colours of Meena’s face became content and then snarled as if she really was scratching the face of some unseen woman. “It isn’t easy to abandon one’s own womb and throw it into the blackness of death…there might be some pressing cause.” No one knew why she was pleading for unknown murderess as if she knew the vipress…she recognized her. “Pressing cause… when she blackened her face there was no pressing cause…when she moved around for nine months carrying the load… there was no pressing cause.” Chemyan kept herself expressing with wrath. Baji jee…these aren’t women…these are vipresses…vipresses are cannibals…they devour their own offspring.” Chemyan shrivelled her face with disgust and went out carrying the

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The Honeyed Truth utensils. Meena wanted to crush Chemyan’s words between her teeth but they were as hard as stone. “Really don’t I know…don’t I know any vipress?” She wanted to devour her own words…her eyes fell there on man-sized mirror where a dim reflection was wobbling. She murmured, “She bore the pang for nine months…fed with her own blood… vipresses are those who gobble their eggs… unscrabbled eggs.” At the same moment hissing sounds of sighs began to emerge somewhere from distance which by and by changed into cries and then into wailings. The mirror was covered with the wavering shadows black… brown…blue and pale, all around leprous poisonous tongues were skulking … the room was filled with rustling sounds… the bed of Meena became a resting place of repulsive softness…she rose and sat on the bed…the rustling sound began to chase her…she began to run around… she kept running…from the room to the lawn…then to the gate and then across the road. Then she began to run to the rivulet where there was darkness…where there were reptiles, wild dogs and hogs, where a white pulpy child in desire to breathe in a shopper was mewling and gabbling. The house… even the whole universe had been filled with nothing else but poisonous rustling sounds.

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The Honeyed Truth

Sanctioned Mist was very copious… red colour spread all around. He looked into the mirror… his reflection had lost somewhere … all around there was red mist… yes it was a phantom like image … perhaps it was he himself…he began to stutter, “This red colour…everywhere red colour… when I shall be free of it … this …this red colour!” his stutter gradually but regularly became aloud and it finished with a clank of something. The mirror had been shattered into shards… and on his hand red colour was spreading… his mother who was leaning against the door came in… on seeing bewildered face of

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The Honeyed Truth Hassan… spreading blood over his hands…in embarrassment she called aloud, “Beena…Beena come quickly…Hassan’s hand is wounded.” “O God bless us all!” She leapt to Hassan quickly… he was going on staring at his the bleeding hand… the mother all of sudden placed a corner of her achanl at his wound and with the other one she began to wipe her tears. In a few moments Hassan’s sister was there with cotton and Dettol, in silence she dressed his hand quickly as well as skillfully as if it was her daily routine and Hassan giving no impression became a statute made of wax in front of her. Suppressed prayers of his mother and complaints to other unseen beings were wafting far away from the range of his hearing that was why his eyes were impressionless, quite hallow… like his heart. It had just passed two months since he came back…when he reached Pakistan with bewildered eyes, agonized face, and with a report of the hospital, caressing mother, and sacrificing sister… not for hours… but for several nights had been crying sitting in the nooks and corners. The terrible realization of dreams, seen a few months ago wasn’t even in the remotest corner of their minds. He was bent upon not to tell anything…just he kept on staring and then used to leave the company…he confined himself sometime into the room and sometime went out…late at nights of winter, he kept moving in the streets only in a shirt… and the mother wrapped in quilt remained mortified with cold. No one knew what kind of fire was burning in his inner-self; he turned into ashes packets after packets of cigarettes to douse it… but smouldering was still there.

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The Honeyed Truth

His acquaintances met him with suppressed tone and stealing eyes, if they inquired about his return in a miserable plight he became irritated. Were the questions difficult or the answers had been lost? Standing in front of the mirror, he used to ask himself… whispers in indignant tone changed into cries. The heart of mother and sisters began tremour…he wasn’t the same Hassan who departed from them smiling and laughing…it was his shadow …only shadow… and for them in this era of uncertainty, perhaps it was a blessing. Her husband had passed away long ago… the doctor, her brother-in-law brought; he told that his brain had gone out of order while living abroad… or in other words he was mentally paralyzed… but how and why? Who might tell what happened to him… he went alone to conquer the world… neither Hassan was agree to go to the hospital nor his mother desired to send him to the hospital of mad people. According to her there was no difference between the mental patients and the mad. Beena gave her regularly the medicines prescribed by the doctor, but he lay inside the room quite silent… or all of sudden went out to measure streets of the village…day and night there had been wazifas, offerings… supplications and barefoot presences at the shrines… everything was being performed. Hassan was listening and observing these all… sometimes smiled to himself and sometimes became hyper and said, “Stop all these dramas… I don’t have faith in any God…where had been God when Suleman and Yasir were lost…when…when!” “O! God who are these Suleman and Yasir… O! My God my son is naive and he is ill too…forgive him…guide him…cure his disease.” The mother went on saying while shedding her tears.

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The Honeyed Truth

One day while sitting on the edge of a well, a thought appeared to him like a dream that he was sanctioned when he was abroad, he was declared a psycho-patient with the malady of schizophrenia so he was kept aloof; all opportunities like of education, service even the doors of life were bolted for him. In the first civilized and perfect society there is no room for uncivilized and imperfect existence… and especially when it belongs to some Third World country…besides the sanction for each blessing is imperative for dwellers of The Third World… whether weapons or human emotions, so that The First World might get access to the breaths of The Third World… now that is nearer than even their aorta…but some pages of memory were missing…why was he declared schizophrenic… the cause was yet unknown to his mind. The mother contented that he was alive in front of her eyes and it was enough for her, she had accepted patiently considering it the will of God. Friends and relatives met and talk to him with such cautiousness as if he was the most sacred thing that might become sacrilegious or break into pieces merely with a touch. No one dared say him mad, cracked or saheen, his brain was twisted on the land of ‘First World’. He didn’t become mad loitering in streets of the Third World who could have been stoned for the purpose of spiritual reward. Now and then, somewhere in some remote corners of the brain splashes emerged…some pages of memory began to appear… with the label of ‘sanctioned’ he had been passing through the chunks of the First World. The people retreated afar; dread peeked out of their eyes… he time and again wiped his forehead as if he wanted to remove the label of

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The Honeyed Truth ‘sanctioned’ from the forehead of each resident of the Third World, this habit made his mother even more distressed. “Beena see! It seems as if some gin has gripped his body… See how he is scratching his forehead!” An apprehensive sound rose and in response Beena heaved a cold sigh. “Mother treatment is in progress… of both… of the doctor and of the saint too… don’t be worried, he will be alright… just go on praying for him.” It isn’t known whether it was the wonder of the saint or of the doctor or the force in the tears of mother…the ominous shadow stuck on the mind of Hassan began to lose its grip. Then his murmur changed into incoherent sentences instead of cries. In the eyes of mother and sister, a glow of hope began emerge. Incoherent sentences then maintained sequence among incidents and then the tale began to come into existence: an account of the resident of the Third World as he experienced in the First World: Hassan and Suleman just had returned from the university, when they turned on the T.V, the commentary, news and routine analysis on colliding aero-planes against The World Trade Centres were in the air. The incident that had occurred a few days ago affected him too, Hassan was exhausted, he went to the bed, all of sudden at late hours of the night it seemed as if an earth-quake loomed, things were being smashed to the ground. There were sharp tones…and volleys of vulgar expressions…Suleman’s cries and broken sentences of yasir. “No…no…we haven’t done. We have done nothing, please don’t do this.”

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The Honeyed Truth

Hassan wanted to say something but his mouth was scotched with tape. When their eyes opened three of them were confined into a narrow dark room. Yasir was lying there leaning against the wall half-extended, his clothes had been torn, eyes were wide open and smidgens of blood were dyeing red all over his body. He was the youngest of all of three and recently had hailed from Faisalabad, then in his eyes was surprise…a pleasant surprise but now dread nestled in them. Suleman and Hassan nicknamed him ‘Chick’…an innocent ‘Chick’ whose feathers weren’t yet fully fledged. Suleman whose tongue was very sharp was lying with swollen injured face and body, then his tongue was silent. He had been studying as well as labouring for the last three years; he used to drink at night in abundance, danced and gambled without any restriction. He was black and trying to daub himself with the layers of whiteness, but he had forgotten that white and red colours can’t be layered over the black one. He bluntly said, “We have just uttered the words of Kalma, they have gulped the whole Quran and Sunnah… friends see their social life… that is why they progressed so much… they dominated us… they deserve it, to God the whole creation is dear to Him…those who work hard get reward.” Suleman who remembered Kalma all time, how he could bear the allegation of being a terrorist. He couldn’t listen to, and on account of not listening to, he was deprived of the sense of listening for ever. On the bodies of three of them, only one colour dominated… red colour…neither white nor black… Hassan got awareness about the definition of terrorism there… it was also surprising for him that his well-wishers were associated with traditions…there hardworking

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The Honeyed Truth compatriots were regarded terrorists… his mind was bent on not to accept this point and it became his crime. Then who knows, the coming hours, days, weeks and months became the witness of which kind of torture…he didn’t know what became of Suleman and Yasir…they were alive or dead… he only knew that his documents were stamped ‘Sanctioned’, he was declared a very dangerous psychopatient and deported in an aero-plane flying back to Pakistan. He was a resident of the Third World, and the Third World was his actual world and ‘Sanctions’ are its destiny.

Wet Wings He straightened up the collars of his coat to get out of the cold, tightened more the muffler around his neck, shoving his hands into the pockets; he came on the main road quite shriveled. A few vehicles were on the road, in the dim light the cart-men stood this or that point scattered. Seeing decorated on the carts, pine nuts, ground nuts and dry apricots, he began to feel their taste on his own tongue. At the same time the smoke rising from a little pot began to enter into his eyes and respiratory track. He began to walk rapidly to get rid of both of the sensations

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The Honeyed Truth There left the journey of an hour, if he walked with normal slow speed, it might take a half hour more, the trouble to get opened the door would have been additional. Besides if someone walks with rapid speed, he doesn’t feel much cold. He daily at the same time, on the same track, in background of the same spectacles was moving on confining himself in the past, moment by moment. There had been prevailing around him murky silence, inside and outside too. This journey of half an hour he used to consume in mixing in mind multifarious events of the whole day, in relishing diverse tongues of the people and in his low mumbles. These were the only moments which were purely his own. He could laugh and weep freely; he could utter nude abusive discourses in a loud voice against the higher authorities, his wife and the owner of the house. These ninety minutes were a window that opened to no man’s land. Through this window, a lot of suppressed pong of his inner-self used to dissipate in the air without polluting the neighbours. Sometimes these ninety minutes assumed the form of silvery screen and he could see everything on it, his childhood, boyhood, departed dreams and beautiful songs. Many times he avoided fall into some uncovered main-hole, many time unleashed stray dogs made him run into the streets. Many times he was stopped by the whistles of policemen and Razakaars on duty, and push-carters also saw him suspiciously. But for several years, emerging and submerging shadow in the dark of night became his part, he could distinguish that after how many strides there would be the main-hole‌who

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The Honeyed Truth was the carter and at which corner he stood…how many dogs were in the street and what kind of their temperament was… with which tone the watchmen used to whistle…in which street, at which home who came at which hour of the night. After five thousand four hundred seconds where he used to knock at the specific door, that door opened after two minutes, the heavy drowsy eyes, contracting with complaints and displeasure remained rifling him for some time, then with suppressed smile that face closing the door, would open the door of the next room where a small world would wait for him. Scuffling with files the whole day at the office, he talked with reference to the cases. His literary fondness, the dream to become famous, writing and concealing poems and stories, all fell in the category of pending file and that file wasn’t yet closed for the reason that during the journey of half an hour he used to dust some pages of this file too. When he was new in the office, his shoes shone, his clothes were ironed, and when he entered into the office with profuse hair, the senior clerks looked him from behind the thick glasses raising their brows, they would see to one another with meaningful looks. After having tussled with files for many years his hair got mossy, his clothes became faded, the soles of his shoes worn out. He was satisfied after burying bedridden parents under the heap of earth. After marrying his sisters his responsibilities reduced. The quarter, consisting of two rooms had been sold, he setting aside everything there shifted to a

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The Honeyed Truth room amid the hilarious bazar along with two kids and patient content wife. The walls and colour of this room were drab infirm like life, no one knew why he liked this resemblance. Its rent was reasonable according to his income; in spite of repressed protest of his wife he hired the room. He got rid of fear but his wife went under the load of dread! Earlier he used to express his views with uncommon zeal on social and political issues, even on scandals. He had firm belief that conditions would change, revolution would occur, miseries of the people would leave them, and the world would become prosperous. But the fleeting moments made him understand by and by that he shouldn’t keep himself in illusions, life would remain the same. Only happiness, peace and tranquility cannot be even found in a movie of three hours. The audience cannot enjoy themselves unless there will be a tragic scene, fighting, or exchange of bullets. This is a system of the whole universe how it can be prevailed under one monotonous mood. He understood the fact but a little bit late. Then he was satisfied to some extent. When he bought pakoras, in the greasy piece of newspaper with the twisted images and fraudulent statements of the politicians, twisting and crumpling them more, he used to throw them on to the ground. Then he laughed thinking that how he used to straighten with care, fold with respect and put into his pocket the pieces of newspaper in which the photo of his favourite leaders had been printed. Now to him these social and political leaders didn’t have more importance than actors.

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The Honeyed Truth “All are stones of the same bag…jugglers…beat the tambours…get the people gathered around themselves…fill their pockets…and leave the spot.” According to him all philosophies, all isms were the excuses to befool the masses and nothing else. “The real problem of hungry belly, naked body, and roofless head is human life and its necessities.” He used to express his opinions boldly and went aside. Those who were in the habit of releasing spicy statements, and relishing scandals with mental extravagance used to regard him dry and bore that his blood had cooled down. He had become aware of the fact that then his importance and the importance of his thoughts was no more than the released smoke of the cigarette. That day he was in a very pleasant mood…without any obvious cause…while he was humming the tone of an old song, he remembered that in his boyhood when he aspired to introduce himself as a revolutionary figure, once his father said to his mother, “Plaid him, his feathers have been overgrown!” “Feathers will grow, the young don’t sit in the nests forever... you are a father, don’t let them dry…keep sprinkling of love on them…so the flight won’t be so high…those who have low flight are less afraid of the falcons and vultures.” Whether he understood the contents or not, but his father certainly looked at his mother lovingly, he always used to become speechless in front of his astute wife and he was proud of her.

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The Honeyed Truth In the gushes of hard wind, while flying over the rocky routes, he understood the meanings what his mother had said. Perhaps that was why he was satisfied with his life… then he wasn’t afraid of falcons and vultures. He smiled while recalling the saying of his mother…a gust of cold wind came and he hissed impulsively…he tightened his coat more…rubbing his hands he shove them into pockets, he pressed his chin against his chest and began to walk briskly… all of sudden at some distance, he heard a bang… some cries emerged…then prevailed silence…silence of death, silence of sin. No doubt he startled but it was nothing surprising, he had to do nothing, he began to walk hurriedly, his tread resembled running. The eyes hidden behind the door were filled with dread and impatience, perhaps the sound of bang reached there too. “Why don’t you come early? “I try but the wheel of life moves around very fast…we have to run along.” He intended to impart smile to the fearful eyes… but there hung the screen of black shawl…and dread sat there snug. “Ok… I shall come earlier from tomorrow… bring the meal.” He patted the delicate soft shoulder. The next night he left two hours earlier than usual time. But on the roads on account of cold there prevailed silence…in the street the same ominous impression…the same flickering

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The Honeyed Truth lamps…the same drowsing venders…and the same barking dogs. He began to repent on his over-hastiness and on being emotional…he thought that he shouldn’t give undue importance to the whims of his wife…else he would kick his earnings…no place is without danger…the snake of remorse began to coil around his feet. All of sudden he felt as if someone was chasing him…he looked behind there was no one…he walked a few strides and again felt himself being chased…he was hearing the soft fall of steps…clearly…he felt as if some ice was stuffed in his backbone…he increased his speed…on the very moment when he turned to the next street, he heard the sound “click” and felt entering a burning coal into the front lower part of his body…when he looked behind another spark leapt to him… his hand became wet…he placed his hand on the chest… from sensing his hand soaked to falling onto the ground, his childhood, his boyhood, peeking eyes from behind the door, children, mother and father everything fast forwarded in between. With the last breath he thought that his mother wasn’t so much wise…perhaps she used to say incorrect…he would tell her, “The birds that soar a low flight are often pounced upon by the hungry falcons.”

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The Honeyed Truth

Circles They were five in number or ten, hundreds or thousands, it isn’t known, otherwise in contrary the number doesn’t matter. Satan is one‌and God is one too. They all joined their heads, consulted to one another and made a heifer; they adorned it and began to worship it. They all averted their faces from one another when remained busy in worshiping their own respective suns who grew them

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The Honeyed Truth on their own farms; someone’s sun was big and someone’s sun was small. Someone possessed as large estate as his sun was large and he had as many bouncers and his hunting palace was as vast too. Those who had small suns were the owners of small farms and those who had gigantic suns; they used to see their big farms with capricious eyes. When the night fell, they spent the spare moments in measuring dimensions of their farms, suns, and hunting places. Yes! They certainly sat together for there were some etiquettes of the heifer as it required for supplications and offerings, there were a few specific rituals which they had to render in front of the heifer, and these all were essential for the survival of all of them. They had heard from their elders that some people had worshiped a heifer like that thousands of years ago, because they were rough, wild and uncivilized, they didn’t know the proper rituals of worship and the heifer was snatched from them. In the descending ages the heifer was worshiped time and again in different excuses, pretexts and forms…but in vain. Perhaps those tribes don’t have characteristics which were imperatives for worshippers of the heifer. Perhaps their faith was crude… then it happened, some mysterious people appeared from somewhere who spread there in the city steadily…they used to pour poison of hatred and suspicions about the heifer, in hearts of the inhabitants…their whispers went deep into their bones…and their hatred began to increase against the heifer…the beliefs of people began to

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The Honeyed Truth waver…their mysterious whispers began to spread all around in the air…in the beginning with suppressed tongues and then aloud they began to curse the heifer…they criticized it in groups…then at last on a certain day they after breaking its nose, ears, tail and legs they buried it afar somewhere in the sand. Silence prevailed over the city which seemed peaceful, then by and by some mysteriousness began to float in the atmosphere… the womb of mysteriousness gave birth to restlessness and it took the whole city in its grips…another category of people began to lick the city from within like termite…when walls became weak they created the noise again…and the humming sounds of the people began to demand for the heifer’s return. In the streets, bazars and in the air red colour dissolved, the cliques of termite went and fetched back the aged, olden and grubby buried heifer from the sand. It was fixed amid the city and rituals were carried out to make it clean, the fear-stricken glanced it from the distance; they see timidly here and there and touched the heifer gently. Only a touch imparted a wonder, no one knew what was the magic in the touch that they themselves became a part of the cursed crowed and began to scrub the heifer to make it clean, it was made shiny, the chipped parts of it were got repaired, it was got polished and painted afresh, its teeth, horns and hooves were especially refined and whetted so that its prestige should penetrate into hearts of the people. Then it was installed on some high pedestal; around it was sprayed rose-water, frankincense was smouldered and after

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The Honeyed Truth being immaculate they began to worship so much that the heifer would become sanctified. A few immaculate worshippers sang its praise day and night; they propagated such rituals and rites as they proved it a redeemer for residents of the city, but it often happened that hearths of the people would become cold. The ghost of dread began to haunt around the homes, eyes of the victims of starvation bulged; they began to drag their dried legs onto the ground, and then stuck thereon. They moved creeping…it became impossible for them to walk with the raised heads… their ears got as paralyzed as they couldn’t listen to even an owlish voice…they only listened to the sacred voices of worshippers of the heifer which boomed in their ears at all hours of day and night. While after having crept for centuries their bodies became cataleptic, then a fresh caressing gust of wind from somewhere would impart them a freshened sense of life…this touch awoke the from their deep slumber…when they moved their hands on their bodies they felt themselves softened… they made attempts to smell the wind, smell of which made them alert instead of making them intoxicated…they observed their environs…the movements of their creeping would become speedy…even they began to walk and then run…then they turned their faces and began to move against the heifer. The craze to worship took them in its grip from all sides around, and made them ignorant from the smell of rosewater and frankincense, they forced them walk around one circle but some of them collapsed onto the ground never to rise again.

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The Honeyed Truth A few of them breaking the circle of worshippers hid themselves in nooks and corners of the city…first of all they whispered and then raised slogan against worshipping of the heifer. The whole city began to quaver on account their voices, costumes of worshipers turned into rags; the sacred vessels began to break one by one, being afraid of the eccentrics, the worshippers hid themselves in the cellars… then poor heifer began to lose its shine again. A few of the rebels in the form of a procession discarded it out of the city. The wheel of time was in motion, the war was going on between the worshippers and the rebels, sometimes the worshippers were run over by the wheel and sometime the rebels. But then the style in which worship of the heifer started was a strange one. This time it wasn’t merely the issue of the heifer but all suns, worship of which had become imperative, the people neither did get time to feel something nor to relish smell of the air. On account of constantly creeping their legs changed into skulking flesh, worship of the suns made their back curvaceous; their eyes couldn’t make difference between light and dark, they were incapable of seeing the scene even in front of their noses. In spite of bending their heads, there grew big eruptions on them which with the passage of time gradually changed into forked-horns, everyone avoided confronting the other lest he should be hurt with the horn. The horns of everyone began to grow pointy more and more, at last it happened that the newly born children began to have these characteristics by birth.

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The Honeyed Truth After centuries had passed, at last, at the later part of one night, one newly-born babe was seen, characteristics of whose birth weren’t portended by the previous several centuries. His legs were straight and potent, his back was unbent, and forehead was clean, smooth and hornless. The parents being fearful hid him in the dark room, but dust and wind bore the news to the worshippers, consternation changed angles and curves of so many faces that such children as that one were only found in the olden tales. “It might be he would be like them when he would grow up, else they would make him so,” thinking so they became carefree. Then one day the same child took the deity of youth into his lap, he with a dominant gait, straight back, without bowing his glaring forehead in front of the sun, stood upright in front of the heifer. He looked at the people with skulking legs, got a view of the creeping people, and stared at the jagged horns and the kicked the heifer with full strength. A crash occurred, centuries old dust wafted and then settled on the faces of curvy-backed people, they began to cry, their eyes which already couldn’t see farther than what was in front of their noses, became hazy. The young man with his powerful arms uprooted horns of the stone-eyed worshippers, and residents of the city. With intensity of pain, the miserable people felt as if their legs were getting back their strength. Their eyes began to see clearly, their curvy backs began to straighten, they rifled and found themselves, and they became jubilant and danced ecstatically. After centuries they saw the earth from height, they placed the young-man on the shoulders.

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The Honeyed Truth Their all suns extinguished, after breaking the heifer into pieces, they threw it afar into the blind well, out of the city so that no one could fetch back it from there. It is said that there in that city many people had been born who ambled with the raised heads and the same young man was their liege. The firmament changed it colour again, at one night the windstorm blew with a great force, a few people saw a shadow going out of the city to the dark well, they chased him, no one knew how that man went down into the well so easily, when he came out he had in his hands the same broken heifer, he re-entered into the city. When he entered into his own house with the thieving gait, eyes of the chasers struck to one another’s…they were amazed…but decisive. The next morning residents of the city noticed that amid the city a dull drab and colourless heifer was fixed on the pedestal, but at the place of its head, the head of their redeemer was connected.

White Teddy Bear While returning to home at night, white, white…cotton white teddy bear, on seeing Moni had been playing hide and seek with him. The feet of Moni were becoming cumbersome. Holding finger of his father, he was walking with a strengthless tread… then the next turn came. His head remained turned to the fixed showcase made of glass which was stuck at a little high shop, like a smile on the face, at the farther end of the bazar with twisting streets, and the white

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The Honeyed Truth teddy bear with a red tie standing in the shop was beckoning him hiding itself from the eyes of others. This time the father taunted Moni several times on being slow who always walked in front him with frolic movements. Munir Baig was in a hurry to reach home for the wind that blew from the peaks of mountains had become very cold… besides his younger brother had just returned home from England after two years, and the arrival of relatives and gusts was expected for several days. Zatoon being prudent wife and decent sister-in-law felt her responsibilities and sent Munir to the bazar unusually after the sunset so that there should be no slackness in attending the guests from in-laws. He became a little hesitant, as it was the matter of his own home, he couldn’t refuse. The season was changing…the lush green high mountains couldn’t stop cold that entered into the valleys in the evenings. Hiding himself from Zatoon, while listening to Saghir the tales of cold but warm evenings of England, to walk on the cold road leaving behind the blanket was for him the most tormenting act. As soon as Munir Baig got up, Moni too jumped out from the lap of his uncle and insisted upon to go to the bazar, the mother taunted but the uncle cuddled, it was impossible that Munir should go to the bazar and Moni restrained himself from accompanying him. At last when Zatoon felt him helpless, she put on him a jacket and a monkey-cap too… Saghir began to laugh…Moni liked very much the black coloured monkey-cap which only showed his blue eyes and a part of his nose…head, ears, forehead and lips all got hidden… to talk he had to slide it a little…else he spoke, laughed from within with suppressed voice laden with

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The Honeyed Truth whistles and raised the curves of his features. Moni himself named that cap ‘Monkey-cap.’ The colourful toffees and chocolates which his uncle brought, half of them had gone into his belly…when he didn’t find more room for them he saved the remaining stuff… by then he had become bored by playing with the toys… the mother had reserved his clothes for different occasions… for she had learnt by heart the calendar of all festivals, marriages and birthdays in the locality.

It was Moni’s habit that he always went to the bazar sitting on the shoulders of his father…parallel lines of shops on both sides of the winding zig-zag uneven road…colourful items… high and low voices of the songs… and hilarious noise… Moni liked these all. Whenever he went to the bazar, a mysterious door of the new world opened for him. His father also fulfilled some of his demands too…toys, juice, ground nuts, Moni got this or that thing in his soft hands as a gift. When he used to become tired by walking, he extended his pulpy hands to his father; Munir couldn’t resist the blue transparent pleading eyes of five years old Moni. He held him by his waist, with a jerk lifted him up and adorned him upon his chest, he felt as if he got the whole universe into his heart but that day Moni teased him a lot. He for the first time was irritated on Moni’s demand; he felt his insult at the shop in front of the people. After buying items of the list given by Zatoon, only one hundred twenty rupees remained behind in his pocket, and the price of white teddy bear for which Moni

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The Honeyed Truth was insisting upon was six hundred rupees. He calculated in case he purchased the white teddy bear against six hundred rupees, he would have to curtail expenditure on the items of grocery for the next whole week whereas in consequence of the arrival of Saghir, he would require three times more contents of grocery in the next month. Munir ignored the demand of the blue eyes, of the delicate sighing lips, of the pearls rolling down from the cheeks, placing stone upon his heart and without saying anything he made a gesture to Moni to walk ahead. He made his face; the shoppers containing commodities had become very heavy in Munir’s hands so he began to walk ahead, Munir had to frequently stop and call Moni whose delicate heart was stolen by a cotton-like white teddy bear, placed in the glassy showcase. On Minir’s call Moni would become alert and resume his walk for a few paces then he began to look behind, his feet even froze. Being irritated Munir tangled both of the shoppers on the different fingers of his right hand and with left hand held the right hand of Moni. But Moni’s hand had become his heart….palpitating …fluttering…was tied with the wire, on the second end of which was tied the white teddy bear wearing a necktie. Munir gripped his hand tight, he was almost walking ahead dragging Moni, he feared lest the cascade of tears flowing from the eyes of Moni should drift him away. Constant weeping, swollen red eyes and sighs made Zatoon emotional. “What happened my sweet Moni?”

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The Honeyed Truth Moni spread his arms and clang to his mother, he looked with annoyed eyes to father and he spoke, “White teddy bear!” After listening to the whole story Saghir put on shoes at once and prepared to buy for him white teddy bear the very moment. No one knew what Munir thought and made a gesture that meant he should sit down and said, “Now the shop might have been close…early in the morning!” “Yes! Early in the morning.” These words were a great source of happiness for Moni, his blue eyes began to shine as if saying, “True dad!” Munir smiled, he put off his monkey cap and unarranged with affection his golden hair. The whole night, the white teddy bear with red necktie and black eyes had been playing with frolic movements and walking with thumps around Moni. Moni hadn’t yet woke when time and nature played a trouncing game at some receding moment…dreams and realities all mingled and mixed…dust mixed into dust… inscribing evidence of holocaust, blood congealed on the stones…identities passing through the process of indiscrimination assumed the form of acquaintance and somewhere became only a voice…which nowhere had an answer…there existed someone…and somewhere existed nothing…some were incomplete…and some obviously complete but devoid of meaning of completeness.

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The Honeyed Truth Indifference of a few moments of element of life had buried the journey and company of centuries beneath the heaps of debris. Some ill-omened shadow had flown over the valleys; the grieved were fewer than those who had passed away. Either movement of the earth became static or it began to move speedier, there was at least some mystery. Between time and space, life was moving wounds-laden… and death with projected teeth was in search of it. When Moni’s eyes opened, he felt as if he was exhausted, fatigued by playing and walking with the white teddy bear. A sensation of pain was overspreading, as if undulating in his body. But after a few moments the humming sound made him understand that he was in some moving van, with a feeling of disbelief, Moni tried to get up and recognize his surrounding but a cry went out of his lips…he felt as if a burning piece of wood went into his right leg. At the same moment, an alien kind face bent over him and spoke in a mild tone, “Son what is the matter…are you feeling pain?” Moni looked at her with blue round eyes…mother, father… uncle…no that face didn’t fit on any of them… “He has come into senses but the child is in a state of shock,” the first face addressed to some other face. Moni thought with amazement, “child …who child…”

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The Honeyed Truth The kind face addressed Moni placing his head in her lap… humming sound felt moving afar and Moni mind again sank into darkness. When after remaining many days in the tents, he was laid on the bed in the hospital; there remained only one leg behind to share his burden…all alone like Moni. While lying there, for the first time Moni felt the difference between life and havoc of death…heir, heirless…orphan… homeless…and no one knew how many unknown words began to appear in his mind. Days and nights were alien to him…the people came and went…the doctors entered and then left the ward…but no one stayed beside him like mother, father and uncle…nor slept beside him…he kept on gazing at all of them around him. Some people carried cameras with them…they threw flashes…distributed toffees, toys and clothes, and then went away. But those whom for Moni waited perhaps had forgotten the way somewhere…where they had gone…Moni became depressed. He didn’t respond to anyone for the last a few weeks…the psychiatrists thought that the shock snatched his ability to speak. Otherwise he obeyed without any displeasure what they said to him… “Get up…lie on the bed…son have a meal…take the dose…well done, you are a good boy.”

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The Honeyed Truth He wanted to ask where his mother, father and uncle were… he knew that something horrible had happened…the earth broke and many people had been perished. It might his family be alive but in some other hospital…but Moni’s diction had finished…the round blue balls of his eyes neither did shine nor laugh…haziness overspread in front of him. Then one day a teddy bear came in the hospital along with the gifts of Eid, it wasn’t like one that he had seen…white with red necktie but it was a teddy bear…at the very moment when he saw it, haziness of his eyes began to dissolve… perhaps mother and father would visit on Eid… with new clothes which his uncle had brought…but the night fell and no one came to see him. The filthy brown teddy bear was of the child who was lying on the bed nearby; he had sustained a deep wound in the head, and his mother deprived of one hand remained sitting beside him. The memory of white teddy bear began to torment Moni as the night fell…he thought if the earth hadn’t broken the next morning his uncle would buy for him the white teddy bear. Moni felt as if the whole disaster occurred for nothing, but just to keep away the white teddy bear from him. He became angry…he looked at the teddy bear lying on the bed nearby, his heart became impatient abruptly…Moni extended his arm to touch the brown bear gently. The silent woman deprived of one arm who had been anxious for the heirless child and always desired to soothe his heart,

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The Honeyed Truth she got up smilingly to place the teddy bear and she laid it beside Moni. “Isn’t it good…do you like it…take it, it is yours…” Moni kept moving his hand for some time over the teddy bear…then returned to the woman without saying anything. The balls of his blue eyes again sank into haziness. The woman felt love for the child, she bowed and kissed the forehead of Moni, straightened his hair, wiped his tear and went back to her bed. “Who knows who the mother is whose heart has been sliced…whether the ill-fated is alive or not… if alive, where and how she is.” What could Moni tell the kind woman that the teddy bear he dreamt for the last time was soft cotton-white…that hard filthy teddy bear he didn’t like…but the presence of filthy brown teddy bear awoke the memory of white teddy bear. Moni’s heart became more disturbed thinking lest the white teddy bear too should have become dingy being buried beneath debris of the shop…its necktie would have been spoiled…and …it might be its hands or feet would have broken. This thought was very painful, Moni made an effort that he shouldn’t think about the white teddy bear…but he felt as if the white teddy bear was beckoning him to some remote world.

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The Honeyed Truth Moni then had been gazing at the brown teddy bear, the whole day and in imagination had been playing with the white teddy bear. The kind woman thought that the child’s heart had been pacified with the teddy bear; the doctors interpreted his simultaneous odium and fondness for the teddy bear, the result of some fear settled in his unconsciousness. Like other children, the photos of Moni also were published in the newspapers and shown on TV channels but no guardian came to take him along…the fate of Moni was to be decided by someone else…who was he…Moni didn’t know… he was hanging on the cord of indecision. Then that night again an earthquake occurred…such an earthquake that Moni himself felt…his life again dithered…all of sudden a white teddy bear with black eyes, red necktie entered…but then it had grown very large…as large as his father was. Moni felt as if he was dreaming again…breaths refused to be reposed in his chest… the white teddy bear went to the children, it sang, it danced, it said to them ‘hello’ , he had been gazing at it all the time. His blue eye-balls wide opened with disbelief. The white teddy bear adjusted its necktie and spoke ‘hello’ standing nearby Moni who was gazing at it statute-like. It lovingly dishevelled his golden curls of hair… just like his father as he used to do…it took lifeless hands in his own…said something…what said…Moni didn’t know. Finding no response, the white teddy bear turned away to other children. Between the pause of the last words spoken by

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The Honeyed Truth the teddy bear and his turn to other children, a cry imprisoned in Moni’s heart for several weeks, got released… making a circle like a bat around the whole ward rested on the head of the white teddy bear. “White teddy bear!” Many people turned their faces, their eyes expressed astonishment…whispers rose. “The child spoke…the child on bed No.5 began to speak…call for the doctor…hurry up…” Sounds of the rapid steps…return of the white teddy bear… its arrival to Moni…everything began to confound. He tightened his fists…the blue eye-balls began to stare far away into vacancy. The white teddy bear while bending over Moni, tried to support his head on the cushion…the doctor felt pulsation of his heart but in vain…there was silence…he shook his head buried in the debris of pain… and shut down with his own hands, the lace grown along the edges of his blue eye-balls. “Some severe shock claimed life of the child.” “But he spoke for the first time today,” the kind woman with one arm said weeping. “Spoke!” the doctor asked with disbelief, “what spoke!” The white teddy bear gently put off the costume from the head…bent over him the head with black hair…and only could spoke with pain-soaked voice, “White teddy bear!”

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The Honeyed Truth

Creeper’s Tale A small waving plant giving a pleasant look, in a beautiful floral-pot became the centre of young-men’s interest. The mother and the grandfather touched and smelt the plant with a deep interest. Though there were doubts about its colour and smell yet its hanging flowers like ornaments were captivating their hearts.

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The Honeyed Truth “Grandfather! Nursery owner was telling that this creeper flourishes very rapidly!” Qandeel was very excited. “This is why Amar began to portray future of the house, when it will blossom on the roof and walls of the house every passer-by will be captivated.” “Why?” Grandfather took off the glasses and taking them in hand grunted, then he addressed the mother. “Daughter isn’t the creeper beautiful? But its smell doesn’t appeal to the heart. What do you think?” Mother correcting her Dupatta on her head with politeness, just only said like ever abridging gap between father-in-law and the children, “It isn’t a serious matter, just plant it, in case it creates any trouble, we shall uproot it.” In fact the children wanted to change the outlook of the house. The cement plastered on the wall, stones, paint and colour everything was well, but all houses were same like in the vicinity with a slight difference; therefore they planned to decorate the lawn with a new technique. In the meanwhile they thought to plant creepers for the roof and walls. After having rummaged many nurseries, Qandeel and Amar got this creeper from one nursery, its flowers were beautiful too, and the nursery-owner further told them that the creeper grew like bamboo at nights, so after having consent of the mother they picked the floral-pot with agility and reached the lawn.

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The Honeyed Truth Grandfather walked slowly a few steps and then sat on the hassock lying in the verandah and began to smoke hubblebubble. It was his old wont when he didn’t get any solution of the problem in hand… and his inner-self didn’t correspond ‘yes’ fully, he used to confound his mental boils into gargling sounds… and compete his inner distress with the smoke of the hubble-bubble. In case of failure he used to have a bath with cold water. As soon as the creeper was shifted into the soil, it began to grow and flourish quickly. Its growth was surprising and exceptional; they all had a belief that the creeper would bring forth new leaves, new branches and fresh flowers after a few hours. The creeper in a very short span of time began to cover the walls from all sides around, all were happy; the rough spots on cement and stones were replaced with red, blue and white flowers, outlook of the house changed in a great deal, everything was okay but sometime the grandfather and mother smelt a gust of unpleasant smell coming from the creeper which according to the children was their impulse. However the creeper didn’t have any fragrance but in presence of its pleasant-look, the element of fragrance hadn’t been so much important. Besides, in presence of perfumes on the bodies and spray of air-refreshers, fragrance of the creeper didn’t matter much. The creeper surrounding all walls, then it was heading to the roof beside the gate. This house from the distance gave more beautiful look than the other did, the children were happy a lot.

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The Honeyed Truth The problem occurred on the very day when all of sudden a black snake like worm fell on the Dupatta of mother while she was offering her prayers and it began to creep. Being horrified she discontinued offering of the prayers; it wasn’t a good omen. In fear she jerked the worm, but it crept rapidly and hid itself in the creeper again. In her life, her prayer was interrupted for the first time, and she was shocked in a great deal. The grandfather made a search of the creeper and strange mysteries began to reveal. The shiny leaves and branches laden with soft white blue flowers looked very eye-catching from the distance, but there clang hidden snake like numerous worms being a part of them. A rustling sensation crept through their backbones; no one knew how many in number the reptiles were when that creeper had surrounded the whole house. Such a thought as that was, created a feeling of abhorrence; rather in the shining surface of the branches there was present an unpleasant sort of smell. The grandfather announced his verdict that removal of the creeper was indispensable, the gardener was consulted but Qandeel and Aamar felt as if cumbersome calamity fell upon them. “Grandfather how it is possible…it is the very creeper that has given the house a pleasant look…and you want to remove it…mother you make him understand…” the poor mother how could make him understand, she became confused with a strange dilemma because she herself was afraid of the reptiles and smell of the creeper. It is hard to

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The Honeyed Truth take the drink with a seen fly, so their arguments proved in vain. The children were of the view that all plants have insects and worms within them. Besides, that on one was a foreign plant; the people had planted them despite allergies of thousands of kinds. Then the mother thought that their point of view was correct, there were insects, worms and poison even in the indigenous plants, fruit trees and also in herbs. The grandfather insisted upon that the matter of self-growing wild plants was quite different, but there must be some secure plants in the houses. A situation of cold war prevailed in the house. At last the gardener told Amar that cement and paint of the walls were falling rapidly from different spots, and it was all because of that creeper which beneath its pleasant looking leaves and flowers was licking cement with its thorns and roots. The grandfather opposed the creeper vehemently; the mother was silent too, because the matter of the roof and walls of the house was very important. The grandfather made a search by his own accord and it came out that the creeper was brought from the mansion across the river where a large family was inhabited. It had a large estate, the people coming from different parts had settled there, and they mutually had established relations so by becoming one family they got asserted prestige in the vicinity. It was the family that supplied and sold the creepers to the nurseries. The grandfather became irritated what kind of miscreants they were who sold such poisonous creepers as they made the

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The Honeyed Truth walls hollow. He wanted to castigate them but the gardener told him that they were very ass-minded, they didn’t bother anyone. They aspired if it would have been in their power they would make the whole city their Haveli. The mother was afraid too, she had heard from the people that dwellers of the Haveli across the river didn’t like comments against themselves and the creepers the sold. No one knew how they could get information about those who spoke against them, and then they created bad blood among members of the family. Then the patios were filled with odium, they became devoid of love, even they would become deserted. Qandeel and Amar had been ignoring these all matters considering the whims, once they taunted the gardener too so that he should refrain from spreading baseless rumours. But by and by some matters revealed to them. While entering into the house, taking meal, or while doing some work of important nature or going out of the house, some insect passed creeping in front them and the colour of faces both of them began to change. Despite perfume and air-fresheners in abundance, gusts an unappealing smell rambled time and again in the house and they all felt worried. Any one of the acquaintances if appreciated prettiness the creeper, they began to look at his nose whether it wasn’t contracting on account of its pong. By and by not only the creeper took in its grip walls and the roof but also their thoughts and minds, it got its grips on their nerves too.

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The Honeyed Truth Many times the mother felt as if thousands of eyes grown on the creeper were staring at her, sometimes she felt as if someone was listening to the sounds of their footsteps. She began to walk with soft fall of footsteps; the natural style disappeared from their movements, their nerves broke while working in measured modishness. Propagation of such feelings as those were, in front of the children was of no use. Mother told it to her father-in-law, he became stunned, and his own state of mind was same-like. He didn’t think it proper to harass her more and he searched silently leaves and branches of the creeper by his own accord as if some living soul was really sitting there to observe them. On the other side there was creeper which was spreading like surging waves; it was scuttling on the gate, walls, roof, courtyard, lawn, grills and windows. Its shining branches, being triumphant were invading all nooks and corners of the house. Some branches creeping from the roof went into the backyard, clang around the pillars and sometimes entering through the ventilators crept with the ceiling. Then Qandeel also wished that the creeper must be uprooted but it had covered the whole house in such a mode as without it, its look seemed very strange. In case the creeper was removed, pronged plaster and scratched colour from different places would give a very desolate appearance. Besides, they weren’t aware how much time the other creeper might require to grow. That might damage the walls and roof too, or might have reptiles or unappealing reek.

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The Honeyed Truth Many justifications and arguments like caravans of thought came to their minds and went away but the decision wasn’t being made., Many other houses also have same-like creepers, there would be problems too, we might have gone overconscious regarding our security,” Amar thought. But the mother was insistent that something intolerable as well as dangerous was allied with the creeper. The grandfather was fully prepared to remove it, but the gardener was also shirking the matter, he himself was afraid of the creeper laden with poisonous worms which spread over several hundred feet. He wanted someone else to perform the task but whosoever came, when he used to see its bulk and reptiles went away not to return. By and by all four became worried how must overspreading creeper be removed off instantly. Many experts of insects were consulted; some one proposed that roots of the creeper must be cut off, its branches and leaves would die by themselves but who would bell the cat. Someone suggested applying insecticide, but there was a doubt that all worms wouldn’t die instantaneously, the half dead would run to each nook and corner to lodge there and they might sidle on the walls too. In case they hid themselves in the cupboards and trunks and corners of the rooms, it would be very hard to find them and the issue would extend on several days. Besides, in the previous days when the grandfather crushed some of the worms, there appeared such ugly splotches on the floor as they didn’t fade despite washing them, rather that part of the floor on account of those smudges became discolored. It all happened merely in consequence of that poisonous and reeky creeper.

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The Honeyed Truth They all, sometimes together and sometimes individually pondered day and night what to do, how they should get rid of the creeper. All of sudden Amar thought a device and presented it deftly before them. Firstly the grandfather, mother and Qandeel thought it a dream of a lunatic mind…impracticable…but the more they thought, the more they became convinced. On the next day, outside of the house there were the cans of kerosene oil placed in the charge of grandfather and Amar, on the other side stood alert the crew of fire-brigade. At distance the mother sitting in the car was busy in counting beads; she was thinking, “Sometimes we have to set on fire our own surroundings to burn ill-smelling creepers laden with poisonous worms, planted and nourished by our own hands.”

Nests Rubbish from the jail was dumped there, once a week a truck came there roaring. Two guards with the expression of abhorrence stood there on its window. As long as the truck stopped there, her breaths were tried to get them stopped. When the truck used to leave, they commented on her with

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The Honeyed Truth some disgusting remarks. Then by and by the heap of rubbish began to swell, remains of meals, shopping bags, pieces of broken utensils, shreds of meat… the heap began to change into a mound. The crows circled into the air, cats ran on the heap and purred and whined there as well…sometimes there occurred a fight between crows and cats… sometimes crows got bones, shreds of meat and crumbs of loaves and sometimes cats became successful. “Is life a heap of rubbish too…and we all are crows and cats?” She always used to think and laugh a meaningless laughter… which was heard by no one…except she herself.” She looked at the sun with half-opened eyes; the sunbeams were falling on the upper part of the window. An imperceptible smile crept on her dry yellow lips, dragging her bulky exhausted strengthless existence on the floor; she sat skulking beside the wall extending her legs for it was difficult for her to sit on foot or to stand on for a long time. She ate the meals of the jail with a great difficulty. Perhaps owing to lack of blood, or the disorder of her heart, her stomach wasn’t willing to accept anything else. But her body was swelling like a discoloured balloon. She stuck her fingers in the intertwined hair and tried in vain to straighten it and then she looked towards the window where a cat was staring with blue eyes at a dead cockroach. The cat was couching, it was as alert as if it would then attack the cockroach, and it happened the same as well. But bad luck, at the same time another cat pounced on the cockroach and got it in its grip.

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The Honeyed Truth Zatoon who had ever disgusted cockroach throughout her life, she took pity on the cockroach very much, perhaps she was comparing from some angle her plight to the cockroach’s. The black cat being unsuccessful… didn’t scratch the pole like a coward cat but it scratched skin of the brown cat…both of them had been snarling and fighting with each other for a long time. The poor cockroach lay on one side holding its breath… in the meanwhile noise of the truck was heard, it compelled both of the cats to run away. Zatoon looked at the cockroach with curiosity; it was lying supine and was moving its legs sluggishly. The same cockroach that moved with agility was lying there helpless… it couldn’t get itself straight…but it was alive…thinking so Zatoon’s heart got a little relieved. It was the same Zatoon who at home always chased cockroaches with the spray. Cockroaches, lizards, grasshoppers, flies and mosquitoes were her eternal enemies. Zatoon understood how time changes the nature of mind and heart. She looked at the truck coming to her…the truck halted adjusting its hind with the heap of rubbish. Three men who were wearing uniforms meant for the staff of jail, jumped down. They saw the bulky woman leaning against the window who was staring at them in bewilderment. Three of them whispered together and then laughed, their laughter expressed very clearly, satire and vulgarity. Zatoon muttered some words, and spat out of the bars on the face of their wretchedness.

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The Honeyed Truth But spitting can do no damage to the people who deal in rubbish. Her eyes remained fixed at the upper portion of the window. After a few moments light accompanied her which lessened a sense of her lonesomeness while being in the dark cell. The sunbeams were sluggishly covering distances of moments in centuries. There spread on almost half of the window meant as if it was the time of noon, and the noon meant the defeat of another day…the end of agonizing day. Her world had been confounded a lot… days are the symbols of hope and light. To defeat them was the hope of his life. The waning noon had been the symbol of her victory. On both sides of the window of that building, on account of high walls, the sun light changed its course as fortune does. The shadows extended themselves, and darkness encroached to her with projected teeth. Her bulky existence began to skulk imperceptibly afar from the wall. On the other side there were bars and across the bars there were custodians… a long dark passage…reverberating sound of the boots… vulgar lexes…cold barrels of the guns…but she remained grappling with her own being. In the next morning till beams descended on the window piercing through murkiness…even till afternoon she remained engrossed in a mental state of hope and dejection… she tumbled in thoughts…wept and pondered. The small window made of thick bars…the extended moss-grown black wall gave her a pungent spectacle, but for Zatoon it was the whole spectacle where she beheld dogs, cats, a lot of insects and birds getting food and preying upon one another.

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The Honeyed Truth Zatoon was aware of the matter that she was confined into smelly cell to paralyze her mentally. Many times frustration tried to clobber her from inside with black tongue. Frivolous thoughts tumbled into the dungeons of her mind and she many times thought seriously about death. Sometimes pressing her head against bars of the window and sometimes confronting reek of the commode in her narrow cell, she often thought about the possibilities of death. But mysterious whispers riding on the beams of light, and a nest at the distance where a few bricks of the black mossy wall were dismantled overruled her thought of death. It was very strange; she had never focused her attention on such trivial things before she came into that cell. She didn’t have leisure to do so; her life was moving like a surged wave. Whatever she came across, she picked up, and whatever she missed, she let it go. She didn’t have time to think about a petty nest or the speed of sunbeams, she rather hardly hadn’t noticed the sun half an hour while it rose up or set down… perhaps she had forgotten the colour of sky in those days. “And this petty…trivial nest… what importance these nests have which are found here and there in thousands…they are made gathering straw by straw and later on wither so soon”. Zatoon herself was surrounded day and night by shining resilient nests, and she was absorbed in making the new ones. The nest of love…wealth…politics…fame…no one knew how many nests she had around herself. She had ever remained unaware of these trivial nests made in the trees or in corners of some old building along any road.

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The Honeyed Truth But then a few beams …and a few straws of the nest were only her world. She leaning against the bars used to gaze at agility of the sparrow and flux of her emotions. Sometimes the couple scrapes their beaks and sometimes one sits in the nest and other comes…and sometimes both of them fluttered their wings and struggled to enter into the nest simultaneously. Zatoon satiated very deep, those moments of their love into her own inner existence inspiringly…the very spot where hatred was stuffed by snatching love. The couple of sparrows collected the scattered straws… or managed the loose ones with their tiny beaks with a great difficulty. This drama of nature replete with life and struggle time and again emerged on the screen of her mind and then sank down. The proud beams of the sun when reached a specific part of the window, they stayed for a while then changed their course. Zatoon many times made prominent the spot with the ground of gravy, the beams only came to that indicated spot. After some days the dried gravy fell down and there remained behind a gray smudge on the black bars. No one knew why Zatoon urged that on some day those beams should come down from the mark on the bars…so that the feeling for light should increase in the darkness… but the sun was bent upon not to change its course of millenniums only for the longing of Zatoon. Hence darkness used to extend its shawl in no time only to make her scared. In the meanwhile the phase of completion of the nest was accomplished. Then time came the eggs were hatched, the young-sparrows were bred…the infants’ twitter portended

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The Honeyed Truth some good tidings for Zatoon. She made her utmost efforts to see the sparrow infants but of no use… she seldom got their glance when they were being trained for flying…sometime on the edge of the nest and sometime on the heap of trash…by and by they learnt how to soar in the wind…Zatoon’s thoughts too made several attempts to fly…no one knew how far they flew but her existence remained behind being dragged there in the polluted cell. She didn’t know how much time passed…either passed or not. The time came, the nest became empty, the force of wind made the straws of the nest loose and then they scattered here and there. Zatoon began to weep haphazardly, time for her became static and darkness of the cell grew grimmer. She pushed her desolate mind away from the intense urge of death of her physical existence. She had always been rebellious, she knew well that her enemies wanted to paralyse her mentally as well as physically by keeping her imprisoned. Zatoon didn’t want to be collapsed…she had started to stitch her inner-self with the thread of hope… she began to darn the patches of present and past. She was fighting against her enemies…she became resolute to see herself…ages had passed since she departed from her own self. She had totally forgotten what her innate face, dreams and desires were. She unbolted the rusty, narrow and dark doors of her mind and heart. She began to descend the stairs of her memories…there was pitch dark…all around was the rottenness of darkness. There were cobwebs but she went ahead…in her inside… stairs and walls of the cell began to tumble on account of pains of her childhood, ambuscades on

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The Honeyed Truth her youth….wounds of her love and her distorted pictures. She felt as if the whole cell was painted with the remains of meals, coals and chalks, borrowed with earnest pleadings, it gave the distorted look of Egyptian Pyramids. Zatoon remained engrossed in the distorted images…she forgot all the sun…the nest…at last one day the jailer banged the window that opened to her own inner being. He pressed a handkerchief on his nose, looked at the abstract images and ordered that the walls be painted black and left the cell in over-haste. Perhaps he was apprehensive as if sturdy walls of the prison might crack on account of those clumsy sketches. Zatoon remained many days lamenting in silence on the ruins of her past and her dreams. In protest after having remained on hunger strike for several days and after having done a lot of loss, she all of sudden felt that the sun beams halting on the window were beckoning her. Till then even the existence of nest had vanished… there outside was only the heap of rubbish, present like earlier along with cats, dogs, reptiles and insects. The memory of her own nest began to torment Zatoon at once; a heap of rubbish in the patio of life began to waft around her eyes. Her husband was murdered all of sudden after spending ten years with her… she was the slayer…his wife Zatoon Begum. She heard the same in the court; the same charge was levelled against her. Malik Aslam who was a landlord semi-politician, his marriage with Zatoon in fact was a rebellion against both of the families and such a rebellion resulted nothing else but

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The Honeyed Truth death and disgrace. Akram the younger brother of Aslam wanted to get him married to his sister in law and so wanted to keep erect the crest of his turban. While living among inlaws, she couldn’t give birth to any issue so Malik Aslam’s love for her and Zatoon herself both began to fade way. Then at on night Malik Aslam, in presence of Zatoon, was murdered in his own room… all clues…bullets… evidences… all were indicating that Zatoon had committed the murder. “Yes, perhaps the people are quite right!” she murmured in favour of the old memory. “I could save him if I wished, but couldn’t stop hands of the murders…they were Allah Wasaya Masalli and his friends…perhaps for the reason, I myself had seen Malik Aslam naked sharing the bed of the sister of Allah Wasaya Masalli…then why I should rescue him?” Zatoon was arguing leaning her head against the bars. If she told the cause and names of the murders, character of Malik Aslam would mix in to dust…else if he had been alive, she would have been imprisoned in the Haveli of her husband. She raised her head from the bras and looked at the sunbeams; she listened to the surrounding silence of the extended mossy walls, she pondered over the helplessness of a few pieces of paper and leaves being drifted by wind. “Akram wished that I must go to the prison on the charge of murder, it was he who abetted Allah Wasaya, they had become blood addict, he preyed upon many preys with one arrow, but I shan’t die,” She murmured.

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The Honeyed Truth Contracting whole wilderness in her eyes, she saw a vulture pouncing and seizing a rat, in a wink, on the heap of rubbish. “Just once if I am set free, I shall libel the sin of Akram on his face.” While thinking so, she crumpled a worm with her finger that was moving on her foot. No one new why there occurred a change in her heart, the moments she spent with Malik Aslam began to swoosh in the network of her body. She started weeping on her widowhood…on her desolation…first inaudibly then her sighs changed into cries. The sunbeams after reaching the middle part of the window had changed their route, the spectacle became dark. Zatoon after a long time wept heartily and then slept a profound sleep. When she woke, the sunbeams clinging to the window were looking at her surprisingly. It happened for the first time that the sunbeams waited for her wakefulness… as if someone shook her awake. “Get up…you have been summoned!” She went out of the cell astounding; the sunbeams startling changed their course too…Zatoon had forgotten how to walk…sardonic smile of the guards made her alert…her rebellious soul made her poised…her being in the cell neither could kill her nor make her mad. Rather Zatoon began finding herself…and it was her victory. The new government to win election abolished the solitary confinement; Zatoon was shifted into common barracks…first of all she looked at the crowed of women standing aloof like a stray appalled cow… they were individually separate and

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The Honeyed Truth merged in a wave as well…at last she jumped into the river too. Though her body had been deprived of light, air and movement, yet they couldn’t chain her soul. She wanted to celebrate her success, she wanted to dance, sing and sway, but her body and soul both had become rebellious to enjoyments. The damped stones, and mossy walls had satiated into her only wailings in the last five years. In the verandahs…in the barracks she began to weep all of sudden, without any obvious cause, and many other shoulders and chests became prepared to prop her head and absorb her tears. By and by the wailings of Zatoon began to flow out…moss and dampness began vanish…then she began to smile…sometime she grappled; sometime she spoke an incomplete sentence…she spoke a half sentence and then became silent…and she remained silent for hours and days… no one teased her for pain of all was common…confinement, distress and separation from the dear ones…they all were joined with the corners of that triangle. One day Zatoon all of sudden began to create nuisance… she gave expressions to abusive substances aloud…whatever came on her tongue she went on blurting…even sweat popped out of her heels…foam dripped from her mouth… and then she lay exhausted supine on the floor…perhaps it was the last forceful current of her inner flood...asphyxia of the years. No one disturbed her…she had been lying there supine… all time gazing the ceiling…silent …as if lifeless. The she got up

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The Honeyed Truth and went to the bed… and in the next morn a new Zatoon was born there. She became jubilant…noise…laughter…gossip…she partook in all activities…perhaps it was her style to ward off fear…the same fear which despite her all strength had accompanied her from walls of the cell. Then she was hopeful that she would be released very soon…she knew that the journey from the cell to barracks, on some day would end on liberty from confinement amid the walls of the prison. Perhaps she had been revealed that the most forceful truth is the desire... desire to live which wasn’t yet perished by the nest of sparrow…the sunbeams… and the images sketched with coal and chalk. This desire then was boiling in her own existence…becoming a force it was pounding her…Zatoon made this desire her strength…and began to use it unrestrained…she got herself asserted…she denied confinement of all traditions, principles and morals. Dates to release her was fixed twice, but were cancelled on account of reports against her. Perhaps Zatoon was crazier to get herself asserted than the desire to get herself released. She was embellishing her mind with her dreams by her own accord. Images were formed ad deformed…moving images were keeping her alive…then she had learnt how to live with those images and thoughts…she was so much absorbed as when she opened her eyes she often startled as if eyes had averted from screen…some tale had left unfinished.

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The Honeyed Truth Then all of sudden she sat silent leaning against a wall of the barrack…she remained in the same state for several days… engrossed…desolate. She felt that freedom neither pertains to the walls nor to the weapons…freedom neither is a dish nor a book…only a force which teaches how to live and how to die…but with our own will. While thinking so, at one night a very innocent mysterious but fearless smile emerged on her face…such a smile as that didn’t relate to stretching or contracting of muscles of the face…it related to the whole body of Zatoon…her whole existence was smiling… fearlessly…mysteriously…with a sardonic smile. The next morning she had been released… released forever… while leaning against the wall…without approval of any jailer…or any superintendent…or orders of the government… by her own accord… along with her own desire…she had flown from one nest to some other unknown one.

Pearl, Fish and Mermaid Chandio’s faith in his arms for the first time wavered while jerking and pleating the mesh. Not only the mesh juddered but also his faith quavered badly.

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The Honeyed Truth While flowing down the drops of sweat from the forehead of Chandio, he looked behind at the sun descending from the sky into the belly of ocean. It looked even smaller than the drop of Chandio’s sweat. The whole life Chandio couldn’t resolve the riddle that the sun warms the world the whole day with its hotness but it sinks into the ocean just in a few moments, as if the purpose of its journey in the sky is nothing else but self-surrendering to the distracted part of the world. While thinking so the strength of Chandio’s arms restored, but in the next moment he thought that Marvi was no more in the world then, his muscles loosened again. He let the mesh loose and looked at his friends standing afar in water who were dragging the mesh ashore gradually. Their faces shone on account of heat and tiredness, cumbersome heaviness of the existence relieved the hearts for that day all of them had considerable share that was why Chandio thought for the heir; he turned back and looked suddenly, Waris his grandson, shielding himself from the mischiefs of wind, his curly hair littered with sand …imprinting his footsteps on sand…was collecting oysters from here and there… Chandio called, “Waris come on! We have put fish in the basket.” Chandio knew well that the phase to put fish in the basket was very exciting for Waris. While seeing the sight, he very mysteriously used to absorb in an inexplicable state, contracting in his black shining eyes, pity, curiosity and the colours of excitement and anxiety.

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The Honeyed Truth Waris put in haste, all oysters into his torn pocket which hung down one side desperately and ran towards the grandfather. However, the live protest of small and big fishes, brought out from the ocean and confined in a basket, was comparatively more worth-seeing than that of the inanimate oysters. Chandio’s friends were gradually narrowing circle of the mesh. Near the shore, amid the fading waves, the fishes were entangled into strands of the mesh, the heart of Waris flung in the same rhythm as they tossed. Shining, slipping and gasping …heaps of small and big fishes were squirming and finding the way back to the sea. Several fishes who could jump forcefully high or those which were small in size could jump through holes of the mesh and fell again with a splash into the water. A few defeated waves were taking them along. Seeing them vanishing into the sea rapidly, Waris always prayed, “What an excitement it will be if all fishes should escape!” Then he would see to his grandfather horrified lest he should have read the prayer writ on his face…for his prayer was against the principles and interests of his grandfather… it gave a smell of mutiny… otherwise interests of grandson and grandfather are often harmonious. The real concern was the issue of Waris…he wasn’t aware of the law of survival of the fittest, besides obsolete words like mercy…pity…were present only in his little world. By and by the mesh was being dragged onto the shore; the heap of fishes began to swell more and more, it became gradually taller and taller and the fishes drew nearer and nearer. No one knew why Waris drew back, he had been

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The Honeyed Truth staring at the fishes while they jumped, slipped and panted out of breath. Then he being appalled caught and jerked the shirt of his grandfather as if he was himself responsible for the frozen death in the stretched fearful corneas of the fishes. Waris in a quavering tone said, “Grandfather! Do so many fishes weep while dying away from their home?” Chandio looked at the appalled shinning eyes beneath the sand littered curly hair, propping against his waistline, in which reflections of the dead fishes were glimmering… Chandio twitched his hair gently and said, “Son! It is useless to pine away for the legitimate prey. If we don’t prey upon them, the big fishes will make them their own prey.” Waris heaved a deep sigh and felt patting a few oysters lying there in the hanging pocket and then looked at the golden heap on which dark shadows were creeping. Seldom had any fish given a slight fling then it became cold. The mesh came back cumbersome…Chandio friends were excited very much, they were singing elatedly…their laughter and their excitement were poison for Waris. “Coward…how it can be a daring deed to bring the sea creatures on the sand and make them helplessness.” Waris only could think but to speak wasn’t in his authority… the mesh had been unruffled…all fishermen were filling their baskets, their hands and feet were in action with agility. Waris became disheartened and he again started picking the oysters. Every day he vowed to himself that he wouldn’t come with his grandfather to behold hilarity of the fishes, but his feet

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The Honeyed Truth chased the steps of his grandfather impulsively on the wet sand. The sun had sunk into the sea with its hotness…Chandio called, “Waris my son…get up…let us go back…your mother will be worried.” Waris got up, kicked on the face of sand…perhaps he wanted to have revenge of the tossing and dying fishes. He, to some extent with annoyance, wiped glumness of his eyes with sleeves, and seeing his grandfather he said, “Why don’t I find the big oyster?” Chandio made laughter very aloud…the laughter just like as his grandfather made before his father… his father made before Chandio on the similar question…after years Waris will make before his son…and then his grandson will make laughter just like that one, before his son…because they knew and Chandio also know…Waris will also know that oysters bearing pearls are very rare…but he for the satisfaction of Waris like ever he said, “You will get…you will get keep on searching.” But Waris wasn’t to be satisfied with a single question and a single answer…he was going on putting forth questions on questions…perhaps from tossing of the fishes to their stillness…he wanted to forget the scene…he said, Grandpa did you ever find a pearl?” Chandio shifted from one shoulder to the other the basket full of fishes and said, “Yes!”

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The Honeyed Truth It appeared as if Waris’ breath stopped with his steps…the sky…the sea…the birds…everything became static…just like the fishes lying in the basket…after a few moments his lips quivered…in the meanwhile a half dead small fish in the heap stirred, “Where is that pearl?” The words tumbled down from the rock of consternation… and the laughter of Chandio crushed the rock of consternation…the words shattered…”You are my pearl.” Waris began to slip on the sand of depression like a tossing fish…he turned and looked behind…the sun had been turned into ashes…the sea had become smoky…wings of the birds had been entangling into the mesh of night…there was only the noise of striking waves. Chandio’s steps became rapid as he came near to his cottage, from inside the light of lantern was peeping out as if appalled. In the cottage, Asaweri unaware of the existence of light and dark, while laying her bed on the mat rifling in the darkness…she was talking to mother about Waris, “It seems as if he got late today.” Asaweri was aware that Waris besides seeing the fishes also went in search of pearl for her every day. She remembered the tale that Asaweri told Waris one day…the tale of a blind mermaid. Someone brought for her such a pearl while swimming through the golden-blue sea like her locks and eyes, as it restored her lamps. But Waris didn’t understand that Asaweri neither was a mermaid with golden locks nor any human was ready to dive into her colourless eyes. She told the story of mermaid to

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The Honeyed Truth Waris, her six years old brother…who was quite crazy; he used to go daily only to search for the same like pearl of the tale and returned with sand in his eyes. When grains of sand prickled his eyes, many pearls rumbled down, but those pearls were to flow down. They were to be absorbed in the filthy sleeves or torn hem of his shirt or mixed into the lying dust. How could they brighten the eyes of someone? Asaweri took the small hands of Waris in hers every night; she pressed them gently and warmed them and gave hope to his stunned tone. Every morning the sun rose in the sky with hotness and sank into the belly of ocean in the evening… Chandio set his mesh every day…the fishes tossed and became cold…but Chandio could neither get rid of the mesh of fate nor did he become cold. He had to walk from one end of the mesh to the second, from the second to the third and so on from the third to the forth one. He had to go on slipping… on a certain day he would have to entangle himself in the mesh…or he had to wait till Waris would become adolescent…when Waris becoming aware of temperament of the sea…seeing it eye to eye…would place his feet on its chest and make the sea accountable for his father. Aman Chandio, the father of Waris knew temperament of the sea too…he spent his life time struggling against it …but one day its fury of the sea devoured him. He too used to search for pearls more than fishes…just like his son. Waris too remained insistent that he would sail far in the sea…along with his grandfather where there were a lot of shining pearls in the depth of the sea…but his grandfather used to say, “You are too young yet and the sea is too big.”

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The Honeyed Truth Waris began to expostulate, “Grandfather you too are smaller than the sea, then why you go into the deep waters.” There was no reply of the crazy questions of Waris. Then at one night when the sea was very furious, its mouth was foaming, grandfather of Waris went into the deep waters of the sea…for it was told that only doctors could cure the belly-pain of Asaweri, in the main hospital where fees were charged in thousands. Lying on the mat, tossing and sighing Asaweri was shedding tears from her sightless eyes which were boiling blood in the veins of her mother…Waris was motionless…he was feeling as if Asaweri was an entangled fish in the mesh, tossing and pitching on the sand…as if she would become still after a few moments and would be thrown into some basket…and… and… Waris got up at once and ran out of the cottage…at horrible night, to the rough rock, amid sighing winds…and the annoyed tossing waves brought apprehensions where the boundary of callousness began. On some moment at night…fear seized the callous body of Waris…the mother’s weeping voices were coming out of the cottage…she was wailing…while lying on the mat of Asaweri. The fishermen returned with fishes…on seeing hanging, lifeless and dead fishes Waris would nauseate, used to run way to some distant spot. One night when he was lying half asleep, his grandfather returned, he kept lying silent though

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The Honeyed Truth he heard his grandfather sighing lest his grandfather and mother should be changed into tossing fishes too. The sound of grandfather was a little aloud, Waris became silent, he didn’t want to tell his grandfather that the tale of mermaid which Asaweri told Waris, she told him, “The girls who die before marriage become mermaids and live there in the depth”. Waris had faith in everything Asaweri had told him because Asaweri could see and hear which couldn’t be seen and heard by grandfather and mother. Waris then too had kept following the foot prints of grandfather on the wet sand…but then his eyes remained silent on seeing the sight of tossing pitching fishes…silent rather having complete hush. While seeing his grandfather he in imagination went down into the depths of sea-water. Then at one night his mother said to Chandio, “Baba! Waris has been changed a lot”. The grandfather gazed at the face of sleeping Waris and said, “He hasn’t yet become certain of the death of Asaweri.” The mother sighed resembling the swish of wind. “Baba! I am afraid, it seems as if the silent sea has merged into his eyes.” The grandfather to avoid the dreadful reply of the question lay on the mat and stretched over quilt from top to toe. A few moments the quilt remained quivering, then voice of the old man quailed, “Those who fight against the sea, also have the hearts sea-like…deep dark and noisy.”

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The Honeyed Truth The mother looked at Waris horrified, and then being aghast she averted her eyes…she felt as if currents of the sea were passing over the mat of Waris…dark and noisy. Early in the morning, Chandio and his daughter-in-law were searching for Waris in the village. No one had seen him; three corners of the world were devoid of his existence…yes the forth one of the sea knew something about him…but then how much it was tranquil while encasing one more peal into its treasure.

Termite ‘Aan-oon-aan’ while yawning, she opened wide her mouth and uttered a very strange, inhuman sound which was heard by Dabbu sitting at the distance of a few strides. It raised its

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The Honeyed Truth muzzle in annoyance and woofed and again placing its head on the paws began to snooze. Zeno who was lying on the loose cot, she got up, and in irritation she untangled her legs pulling out of the cords of bedstead. She abused Dabbu on that act by establishing its illicit relation to its mother and sister (which among dogs actually isn’t illicit) and spat on the ground. Dragging a torn pair of sandals which she wore on her filthy brown feet with overgrown dirty nails, she bequeathed every creature between the heaven and the earth with a long list of sacrilegious words of abuse. She heaped her torn quilt on the cot and went wobbling to Dabbu. Her foot had been aching for the lost several months on account of a leaching wound. No one knew whether a thorn pricked into it and a broken piece of glass, but neither Zeno bothered it, nor God. She applied anointments if she got, else she simply washed the wound with water cleaning its aperture, so that wound too like others had become a part of her existence. Dabbu saw that Zeno was scowling; it made an attempt to smell her without lifting up its head, but it received a forceful kick of Zeno, it uttered some whining sounds and it moved from there. It was against the principles of Dabbu to go far away, so it again placed its muzzle on paws and sat there at a little distance. In annoyance, it woofed a little and then closed its eyes. Zeno bent, she took her quilt and entered into the cottage while abusing Dabbu. What sort of cottage it was, it consisted of only two rusty grey sheets of tin, on the body of which hundreds of eyes were grown on them. It was propped

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The Honeyed Truth on rubble like wall of bricks overloaded with useless ragged rain sheets, sacks, grass and fodder. From distance that cottage looked like a bent old man who on account of his bend and cumbersome load sat exhausted instead of creeping. Zeno had been sitting there extending her legs, in company of the same old man. Zeno liked that cottage which existed a few kilometers out of the city near truck hotels, puncture shops and workshops of automobiles, only for the reason that there was no one aware of Zeno’s past. No one knew who made the cottage; both the builder and the resident were unknown, so the cottage and Zeno went along. Before Zeno came, the workers who made the road, and boys who worked at the hut-hotels and workshops sometimes came there and using the cottage left away increasing or decreasing its bend. Perhaps it was the only No Man Land which was free of litigation of ownership or partnership, but since the cottage had been occupied by Zeno, the neighbouring workers had faith that the cottage had gone out of their hands. First of all some eccentrics thought to condemn orally as well as physically that it was a kind of usurpation and direct attack on their eternal right of woman and land, but it was difficult for them to hold out for a long time in front of Zeno and Dabbu, because the manner of barking of both of them was very constant and fatal too. The rush of eccentrics withered and the craze of eviction changed into repentance, jokes and helpless giggles.

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The Honeyed Truth Then Zeno and Dabbu become an essential part, colourless, gauche-natured and deserted just like the locality. Zeno early in the morning used to go to Rafique: owner of the tea-stall and sat there on the bare ground along with Dabbu. She only needed a mug of tea and two loaves of bread; she put down one loaf in front of Dabbu and ate the other herself by dipping it in the tea. Rafique also feeling pity placed in front of Dabbu some bones leftover at night. He never charged Zeno for whatever she ate, for fear of being abused; else he used to get himself benefited from Zeno in some another way. Far away from the city, in the exclusive crowd of men the existence of filthy Zeno was no less than a blessing. Her round shoulders peeping out of her half ragged dress, pulpy smart auburn shanks, long hair, and juddering flesh of the body made Rafique very sensuous, she became for him a source of delight. Besides, in presence of Zeno visits of the workers became more frequent and his sale all of sudden increased manifold, therefore her presence was profitable for him. Sometimes Zeno put into her cup some money for Rafique that she ever saved while buying her medicines so his account always remained in profit. The life and youth of Zeno was meant for the loss, she only met loss, why and how, no one needed to know it. Zeno even late at night used to flip over the pages of her account of life, she calculated with plus and minus. At the age of thirteen she was married to a forty years old widower, the first minus, consecutive births and deaths of three children, the second minus, and her blind widow-mother was run over by van, the

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The Honeyed Truth third minus. Then who knew how many minuses of pleasures and smiles she had to face, and after the plus of many sorrows and sighs she met the minus of divorce at last. After that pluses and minuses confounded themselves in the life of Zeno; while working in the houses she got used dresses in good condition, she had proper bellyful meals and by and by softness of her body improved. On account of her eyecatching features, and a braided rope of hip-long hair, she used to have benedictions of sons of the landladies as well as their husbands; she always remained confused whether she should consider them plus or minus. With physical satisfaction, she also enjoyed herself financial affluence. Zeno like that all, and the side of plus began to remain heavy, but when the landladies with eagle-like sharp eyes saw the magic of her throbbing twisting body encroaching to them, they began to compose their loose structures and shut up the doors of their houses for Zeno. The ratio of minus again began to increase in the credit of Zeno and she was afraid of minus, so she started her craft in a direct mode, and opened the ledger of accounts which had been close for years. This ledger was her own, her own asset and her own monopoly; devoid of litigation of ownership and calculations. She chose customer according to her own wish, intemperate waves of invitation surged in her eyes; her reddish-brown body was slippery like the skin of fish, replete with the emotions. Luxuries and comforts again incurred minuses of past and deprivations of the life, but those old accounts in some or the other way began to become operational.

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The Honeyed Truth Perhaps some old customer had incurred plus of a disease in her body, besides, the tang of voluptuousness which had been flourishing in her corners and had been doing minus in Zeno’s energies stealthily. She became restless, she had never thought of such a loss as that was, just then new doors of comforts were opened, and Zeno who was twenty nine or thirty years old couldn’t perceive that she had become the victim of weevil, termite was eating her moment by moment. Many days she remained lying wrapping her face but in business profit is given much importance, so she went to a new place, she sat there opening her new shop with a new signboard. She began to rob the unaware customers with both of her hands; perhaps everyone with substandard commodities does the same in the bazaar of life, and a woman like Zeno had many justifications to make a display of her second-rate product after getting it polished‌but for how long?

Some aware customers came there to make the other ones cautious, but on the other hand Zeno began to change the spot rapidly. She made some lonely customers her victim either at the footpath, or bus stop or at the railway station. Zeno was in hurry, the tempest of time had bent upon to blow away her everything. The old workers, aged coachmen and weevil-eaten venders helped her a lot for some time. She made efforts to imprint

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The Honeyed Truth the sign of plus on the face of life, with her hollow body but output remained in minus. Zeno begged before time, in the streets, loading on her existence a disease and the ledger of her life. Her wild burning eyes and body scorched with discomfort of hot passions invited some voluptuous young men but the past of Zeno sometimes raised its head like a snaked and hissed so they got themselves appalled. Wildness of Zeno enhanced. Any machine working after years if stops suddenly with a jolt, its parts get shocks that is why they become useless, they become rusty. Zeno was a living machine, in the hotness deprivations weevil of the disease was eating her crumbling body, and moment by moment it was becoming rusty. Hotness of passions sometimes showered sparks of fire, her heart wished to burn the whole world in that fire too but then that fire was needless. The rubbish that came out of her mouth began to stain the dress of every passerby. Considering her mad, the people began to increase distance, and then Zeno really became mad. After having been beaten by a few policemen and vagabonds, Zeno made her abode far away outside the city. She began to abhor from the sons of Adam while being in the forest of humans who after deriving pleasures from her body, and incurring minuses, threw her like a rotten shred of flesh. Burning in the inferno of her seclusion and loneliness, often at nights three innocent beings, weeping and wheezing surrounded her. They perhaps after being born, out of her womb became annoyed from the world only for the reason

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The Honeyed Truth that it wasn’t worth-living for them. The same world that made their mother, a contaminated being and then it was ready to discard her. At such black nights Zeno used to hear waling from her womb, perhaps in memory of the departed children. Sometimes such a pain emerged as she felt her productive organ was cursing her, and those who devastated her, but who? How many? Someone alone? A few or all? Zeno neither did remember names nor faces, in her business there was no importance of names and faces. She used to get up early in the morning, by kicking Dabbu outside of her hut and uttering some vulgar expressions, she did her catharsis. On the other side Dabbu too was so much blatant as it woofed and sat afar a few steps, kept muzzle on its paws while looking at Zeno. When Zeno returned bending, sat exhausted on her loose cot, Dabbu walking wobbly used to come close to her and wagged its tail. Zeno after gazing at it for a long time used to say with a suppressed tone ‘worth-dying’ and then fondled with love her fingers on its head. In those days tears appeared very rarely in her eyes, perhaps they had dried since long. Zeno on that day sat as usual out of the hut hotel of Rafique, she took a mug of tea, ate one loaf and threw the other one before Dabbu, but she didn’t get up from there. No one knew what she had been thinking; she was engrossed, she remained seated there scratching the ground. Dabbu too remained there beside its owner, placing its muzzle on the paws, but it certainly woofed a little at those who came in and went out of the hut hotel. Rafique was happy that there was hustle and

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The Honeyed Truth bustle that day on account of her presence, voluptuous impish looks clang to her body; there were meaningful whispers, and vulgar remarks. Listening to the voice of his heart through the tongue of others Rafique observed fearing the reaction of Zeno. When rush of the customers lessened a little, he peeked here and there, then went to Zeno and said muttering, “Is it all OK today…I mean…” Zeno looked at her with her wild eyes and spoke in a stern tone, “Do you have any trouble?” Rafique turned back in confusion and said, “No! I was just asking for nothing.” It was a blessing for him, though the sentence spoken by Zeno was bitter, yet it was alone and not a vulgar abuse. In the meanwhile a truck overloaded with the luggage stopped; two or three men jumped down, Rafique met them so much cordially as if he was acquainted with them for years. Their loud laughter by and by changed into meaningful smiles. Zeno became doubtful that they were talking about her. Rafique was telling them something while looking at her stealthily. Two men went back to the truck, they lobbed down a sack, and untied after placing it on one of the cots, laid outside the hut hotel. Rafique took some clothes, a shawl and a blanket out of the gears and handed over them to the newcomer who went ahead to Zeno. She till then was witnessing that all sight casually, but as soon as she became a part of the sight, she heard that Rafique was say, “Zeno this luggage was being taken to the needy people at hills, you too are needed, keep these things for yourself.” Perhaps Zeno was about to reply, either on account of shamefulness spread in the eyes of Rafique, or embarrassment

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The Honeyed Truth of the newcomer boy, or eye-catching colours or fragrance of newness of the clothes and blanket breathed forth some magic that her tongue stopped and couldn’t give any undesired expression. Zeno looked at the crop of moustaches and beard newly grown on the face of the newcomer; she extended her hands, took all items and kept them embraced. After years when soft slippery blanket, new silky rustling clothes touched her body, no one knew how many impulses awakened in her existence, and how many emotions opened their eyes. Rafique who was then embarrassed, he beheld in the wild eyes of Zeno a fleeting sparks, as cool as the light of stars. Zeno collected all items and went to her hut without saying anything, her Dabbu too walked behind her wiggling its tail. Looking at her round shoulders, and smart-mushy shanks Rafique heaved a breath and placing his hand on the shoulder of the newcomer responding his perplexity he said, “Zahoray we don’t know where she hailed from, you aren’t required to confront her a lot, she is a little out of senses, give her whatever she demands but free of cost.” Zahoray cast a gaze at Zeno who was moving away, he had hailed from the mountains; he felt as if juddering of half-nude organs of Zeno had the force and flow of tributaries. His began to feel lasciviousness and his checks began to burn. Zeno placing the clothes in the hut, sometime she remained inside and sometime strolled out of the hut, but all time she remained engrossed in thinking. Through the boys Rafique

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The Honeyed Truth kept her sending mugs of tea, loaves of bread and routine meals, but Zeno didn’t touch anything except tea. “Friend! It is strange, this woman will die; she hasn’t eaten even three bites in three days.” Zahora spoke in indefinite emotion. Rafique cast a glance at Zeno, she was sitting beside her hut. To catch the burglar of inner self of Zahoray, and pushing into oven the heavy stone of his heart, he spoke, “Leave her, she won’t die, who should entangle with her, she will scratch out the seams of brain.” This is another thing that he reminded well-formed shanks of Zeno, it was a well justified excuse to entertain the eyes free of cost. At night Rafique thought waveringly to enquire after Zeno, but before he went to her hut she herself came at his hut hotel along with her Dabbu. Before Rafique went to her Zahoor reached there, Zeno seemed much depressed for some time, her eyes were swollen, on her cheeks there were the remains of tears, Zhoor asked hesitatingly, “Will you have meal?” Zeno nodded after fixing her eyes a few moments on the curious face of Zhoor. Rafique was busy in managing increasing rush of the customers. When Zeno was about to leave Zhoor said impulsively, “Now discard away these ragged clothes, and wear the new ones.” While getting up Zeno became still for a while as if something suspended between the sky and the earth. There was mysteriousness in her wild eyes, Zhoor shuddered, and he picked up the utensil

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The Honeyed Truth trembling, bending his head went behind the hut hotel. He didn’t come out of the hotel until Zeno entered in her hut. After listening to the whole account Rafique became annoyed. “Are you uncle of hers? You gave her the clothes, whether she puts on or burns them, why you are so much concerned. Be thankful to God for she didn’t abuse your mother and sister, in future keep your counseling with yourself.” Even then Zhoor couldn’t help bringing his inner feelings to his tongue, “There is no use in wasting the news clothes, she will look attractive.” Rafique weighed the remarks of Zhoor with thoughtfully and said, “O! How you have seen her goodness just in two days.” While saying so, her all good traits began to peek to Rafique, out of her ragged dress. Ear-lobes of Zhoor began to burn and being frightened he said, “I was saying just for nothing, it didn’t matter to me.” Rafique tried to lessen the tension of his body and spoke in a bold tone, “Then don’t be worried about her, think about you own business.” The next day was mysterious one; Zeno came there very early in the morning. She demanded for a bucket full of water and a cake of soap; the mouth of Rafique opened with surprise and then closed. He went in back of the hotel and looked at Zhoor with strange looks, then he said, “She has come, your mother, your counseling has done a lot of loss, she is demanding for a bucket of clean water and a cake of soap.” Zhoor sprinkled water on his colour-altering face, and after the silence of a few moments said, “Why?”

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The Honeyed Truth Apparently peaceful reaction of Zhoor made Rafique furious and he spoke burning, “To be drowned!” then while going back he muttered, “Go, and fulfill her demand to get her purified…going to get cladded mother with new clothes!” The whole day there were the sounds produced by her movements but Zeno herself didn’t come out of the cottage. Both Rafique and Zhoor, avoiding the looks of each other, had been seeing frequently towards the cottage, but the curtain of the cottage was motionless as if it had concealed a deep mystery. Why was Zeno in till then? What was she doing? Why didn’t she come out that day, whether she got herself washed, she changed her clothes or not? These were the questions which were wiggling in their minds, but both of them didn’t have courage to speak and to go to the hut of Zeno. When late at night, noise of the traffic and the rush also decreased, a new nuisance raised its head in the mind of Rafique. “Perhaps Zeno after having bath went away with someone else from the backside of the hut,” he thought. “No, no, it can’t be so,” manhood of Rafique rejected his own suspicion. Besides, on seeing not only a man but also his shadow, Zeno used to spittle spitefully on the ground all her hatred. Rafique had been curveting for a long time testing toughness of the wooden shafts of the cot. Then he couldn’t refrain, he got up gradually and looked at Zhoor who was lying on his cot and went towards the hut of Zeno. Though Rafique wasn’t so much virtuous yet his ears were listening to his heart, pounding in his chest. Woman for him

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The Honeyed Truth wasn’t a thing that he hadn’t savoured but he suspected that Zeno would make a noise. He enjoyed himself considerable goodwill and respect in the locality, he was afraid lest it should mix in the dust. Being fearful Rafique looked around in a manner as if he was really caught red-handed, and all of sudden his feet refused to obey him. He was on the half way when he returned, he made a vain effort to sleep but the squirming worm in the fermented substance of Adam was bent not to have rest. It was the same worm that snatched Paradise from Adam; it was even then restless and creeping in the existence of Rafique. Gradually it was provoking him; at last being disturbed, he jerked Zhoor, “Zhoor! Zhoor! Listen to me.” Zhoor on being disturbed in his sleep; gave a bitter expression of his face and spoke in a heavy tone, “Ustaad what is the matter at mid night?” Rafique made his tone hefty to crush the head of worm squirming in his existence, “I feel as if there is something wrong in the cottage of Zeno.” “What!” Zhoor opened his eyes fully. “Go and see what the matter there is,” Rafique said what he shouldn’t have to, but he didn’t like the agility that Zhoor showed, he got up at once and walked towards the hut of Zeno.

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The Honeyed Truth The exhausted eyes of Rafique wanted to fetch back Zahoor who was moving away in the darkness by each moment; but it was too late. First of all Dabbu woofed, but then on clicking sounds it recognized Zahoor, after sniffing him, it wagged its tail as if gave him permission to enter into the cottage. Zahoo stopped for a while beside the curtain and spoke, “Zeno! Zeno! Is it all okay?” The cry of silence was fearful; Zahoor shivering called aloud, “Zeno! Zeno!” and at the same moment lifted up a little its curtain. First of all he couldn’t see anything except dimyellow light of lantern but very soon some shadows of useless items began to appear. On seeing Zeno lying on the cot, Zahoor headed towards her but her sighs stopped his feet. Zeno was weeping, for how long, for a few moments or centuries, no one knew. Zahoor asked Zeno if everything was all right. Her sighs stopped, movement occurred in her body lying on the cot like a heap, she raised her head gradually; she gazed at Zahoor and sat there on the cot. “You here at this moment, at mid night!” her voice was cumbersome on account of some unidentified sensation. “That…that is for the reason as if here was someone…Ustaad informed,”Zahoor spoke. While Zahoor was justifying his presence there at midnight, Zeno increased light of the lantern. Zahoor experienced that he was in some other world; the straw-entangled hair of Zeno had been washed, and then ran down to her waist. Zeno clad

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The Honeyed Truth in new dress seemed quite different from the earlier Zeno and consequently Zahoor retreated imperceptibly. “Why? Are you afraid? I am the same Zeno.” Zeno said. Zahoor really was scared, his palms were sweating. “Today I am afraid of myself too.” Zeno responded herself for her own sensation. After increasing the light of lantern she bent, lurching bosoms out of her loose fashionable dress, choked Zahoor’s throat with thirst and his steps began to stagger. “I…I…I am to leave!” Zeno after placing the lantern on the ground spoke while straightening up herself, “If you have come, stay for a while, I am alone for years!” While saying so, silence began to speak in her. Zahoor felt as if he was breathing in a dream. “That body…that tone…is she the same Zeno?” he thought. She was the same Zeno; she looked at Zahoor with all her yearnings and deprivations, who was a few inches higher than her. The veins of his neck were puffed-up, and muscles of his arms joined with wide tough hands were fluttering in his shirt. Who knows how many moans clinging to her body began to weep and wail, blood moving in the veins began to run, so much fast as she began to gasped, as if she would be blown up in an instant and to save herself she held Zahoor. When fluttering muscles of his arms touched her bosoms, there blew a tempest. Amid his disordered breaths, in an effort to save himself, Zahoor said gasping in broken words,

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The Honeyed Truth “What…what…what are you doing, you are just like my mother.” Zeno raised upward the hem of her new rustling qameez and sighed, “But I am not the mother.” Perhaps by incurring minuses, she wanted to clear off all accounts and pay back all debts, previous and present, of the generation of Adam. She was either annoyed from life, or life was annoyed from her. Outside Rafique was turning his sides in restlessness; he got up from his cot at last and walked towards the Zeno’s cottage.

Doors Of The Heart

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The Honeyed Truth She like ever reached a few days earlier and cleaned a small luxury flat. She put the things in order, changed sheets of the beds, gave a new look to the setting, she decorated the budvases with new flowers. This all process used to claim three or four days. She used to make a lot of dishes in two days and put them in the freezer so that she could strain drop by drop, forthcoming moments and adds them into the lake of her memories, and when there blossomed the lotus of tears, the waves of memories could relieve and vacillate them. She was in the habit of doing every chore with decorum, and she was hypersensitive on listing to complaints while doing things on time. She always set time target for each activity which she performed a few hours earlier than the actual time. In celebrations she always parked her vehicle five minutes before the specified time. On seeing her, her friends used to set correct their watches. That day she was same like, everything was perfect, only she yearned for the days which were lodging in her soul. She placed each item in blue colour, in the room of the elder because he had a very fine taste. He used to put on clothes with dignity, used perfumes and combed his hair frequently. The younger had always been a little careless. He was an artist, no one he used to ransack books where from. He used to tell tales and make himself in imagination their character. He liked garish colours; the younger had naughty eyes, and she was very fond of his smile. She loved solemnity of eyes and hypocritical faint laughter of the elder.

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The Honeyed Truth Once more she cast her eyes at the whole house, everything was in order, the deficiency which she noticed it was just only of the both who were expected to reach in the evening. For the last five years it was the routine of the three, Maha had been entangled in her work, to keep herself busy she was burning candle from both of its ends. They both were in their professionals, drunk and indulged in the hustle bustle of hostel life. Maha was satisfied that they were happy and content. That small flat she purchased eagerly which had a bankless sea in front. The foamy waves were in surge, the wind was furious, occasionally she felt as if the flat was a symbol of her own life, staunched and challenging in front the sea of time and circumstances... for a challenge in front of a challenge. It was 6 O’clock, she had to get just a bath, after having bath she put on a house-gown, and she made a loose bun of short hair by jabbing pins for they both liked it very much in those days. For them their mother was an ideal woman. The gathered colours made a picture, they three were sitting around a table, their faces were burning with emotions and both of them were telling their mother the tales of their achievements. The caretaker of the garden was witnessing growth of her own tended plants. All colours of flowers were festooned on her face and the picture had become a living picture. While pouring coffee into cups Maha said, “I shall too tell a tale today.�

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The Honeyed Truth The younger cried, “Wow! You always tell a marvelous tale.” “No, this tale is quite different, neither good nor bad, just a tale, after listening you both must give your comments regarding its end.” Her tone was grave. “We…but how!” both of them peeked into eyes of each other as if it is the only route to enter into the heart. She smiled, “It is a thing you must have to think upon.” “They say if evening of the life is seen near we must talk decently,” Maha said swallowing bitterness of the coffee, “But today I shall only talk about such matters as I think of them, I shall tell such a tale that had thought of me.” Eyes of the boys again gazed at each other; they began to step down, stair by stair, somewhere deep… in each other. “Shards of things shatter when they break, when dreams shatter their rubble falls somewhere inside, it gradually eats the walls, then they too become rubble and collapse.” The eyes of Maha were searching for some wall. “The whole life I got nothing but the people and love broken in shards. Every man loitered bearing the earlier face, partly real and partly fake, I had only one face, whether it was good or bad, it was my own. The people wearing masks wanted to scratch it with their sharp nails, wanted to distort it, I got many scratches, many cuts, but you see it is intact.” Maha moved her hand over her face, her throat parched, the elder gave her a glass of water, and Maha had a few sips.

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The Honeyed Truth “Socrates had a glass of poison only once and got himself comforted… you know I have taken poison drop by drop …at each moment I die…I was in the city of statutes …all were incomplete…half-sculpted and chipped…some were handless and some didn’t have feet, some had their ears damaged and some with cracked lips…they perhaps all had the eyes of stone…then I sculpted myself an statute who had all parts intact. Do you know what then happened? I committed an error; I forgot placing heart in its chest.” The hearts of the elder and the younger grew cumbersome; they gazed at each other aghast, they hadn’t become stone yet. “Then at one night it wanted to make me an statute that it wanted to worship me, I myself was transformed into a statute because I was becoming mad for my own perfection but my worshipper forgot after placing me in a corner. After many days I felt I was withering into shards, the slaps of wind became to change me into loosened grains of sand. I began to shatter grain by grain. To get myself composed, on account of fear to be scattered, and to become dust I left that corner.” It seemed as if dust of sand was wafting in her eyes. “I thought him a sculptor but he proved himself a stonecrusher.” All of sudden the younger asked, “Then how did he become a sculptor?” “I told you that while making that statute I had forgotten to place heart in its chest. The statutes who are sans hearts their

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The Honeyed Truth brains work a lot, they are very genius… they can make and destroy everything…but only for their own pleasure…with their own consent”. The younger couldn’t understand the philosophy with all his astuteness and he nodded his head just in its assertion. “Mama! Are you yourself is the protagonist of the story?” The elder looked at his mother with the investigating eyes. “Every good story-writer…tale teller becomes the protagonist… the readers and listeners thinking that it is his own story,” Maha looked through the window, far away in the sky a meteor shot down. “Mama I am scared, your tone is melancholic…fearful.” The younger was innocent yet. “Yes, perhaps at present these things…these tales aren’t yet to be told to you…or never…for you both are men…you can sculpture a statute of a woman, you can raise each feature and angle of her body but how her heart is to be made, how it is to be figured, perhaps you won’t know yet.” Maha again became a tale. “When a man gets a ‘prostitute’, he searches in her ‘wife’, if he gets ‘wife’ he searches for a prostitute… if both characters are assumed he becomes happy…but if a woman becomes a mother, to become a prostitute for her becomes difficult… do you understand it?” “To some extent,” Both of the said simultaneously. Both of them had reached to the hearts going down stair by stair, but they stood out.

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The Honeyed Truth “Then a man goes out in search of unexplored worlds, but women like me in the cycles of searching means for realization of their desires, loose such a half-broken incomplete man, because a man may stand by at the destination, may accompany a woman at starting point of the journey, but doesn’t go along the woman, on the journey in search of her entity. He is impatient just to become a triumphant, and wants to winch a flag of victory…making it a statute…then thinks to become immortal after becoming a statute.” Maha was having fifth cup of coffee in her hand, the elder placed the thermos a slight afar. He knew that after having coffee Maha would have to wake the whole night. She would remain standing inside the window, she would spend the night in seeing the surging sea, early in the morning she would run to embrace the perturbed waves. When she became exhausted, she would sleep after having sleeping pills. Heart of the elder moved, tears became in his eyes, lips of the younger quivered, “Mama it is too late at night, now you should sleep.” “But my tale is half-told yet, I shall sleep when the tale is finished, now I shall have to do nothing but sleep.” “We shall listen to the remaining tale early in the morning, we are also feeling sleepy,” the elder leant against the weakness of his mother. “Okay! If you are feeling sleepy, go to bed,” how mother could make their sleep distasteful.

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The Honeyed Truth “No, we shall remain seated, unless you sleep in the room,” both of them claimed unanimously. “Okay! If you say so, I shall go to bed,” Maha spoke in a tone as if she lost her heart while gazing at them. Both of them caressed their mother and said, “Goodnight!” She too embraced them tight as if to listen to pulsation of their living hearts, she felt strength of shreds of her own body and overspreading the blanket she closed her eyes. Early in the morning, the younger being embarrassed woke the elder jerking, “Mama isn’t in her room!” “She might be strolling on the bank of the sea!” “She isn’t there too, I have seen!” He spoke as if the heart of the younger was snapping in twain. Both of them looked around, near and far, each corner of the sea but no sign of Maha was there. Inside the room, beneath the cushion, a piece of paper was waiting for them. “For the first time at night I felt that perfection of my individuality has been done, in the form of you both, now my existence is unjustified, never get scattered yourselves in shards again…I don’t have the courage to see both of you in the form of scattering sand… I am to depart now… very happy, satisfied and perfect. If you sculpture statues in your lives, don’t forget putting in their chests the hearts…heartless statutes will trouble you a lot.”

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The Honeyed Truth Maha who was very fond of becoming perfect, had been scattered like soft sand, grain by grain, beneath the waves of the sea. The elder and the younger, standing on the beach had entered into the hearts of each other‌ through the same door.

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The Honeyed Truth

The Shawl of Thursday I don’t know how this all happened, the world has become so modern…I had been very cautious…he used to pass sarcastic remarks… a girl, F.A passed and so much modest… which is the world you live in. In these days there is a fashion in the name friendship. When everything is our own, whenever and wherever we wish we may use…eyes, nose, hands and feet then why shouldn’t…Ruby all of sudden placed her hand on his mouth and Shaukat gave a cut to her hand with intensity of passion…Ruby uttered a sound ‘seee’ such like as she had done earlier too. Then some movies began to flare up such emotions and some enthralling delicacies and looks of the new brides in the village made them see new dreams. Earlier there had been several risks while being caught on the roofs, in the streets or while exchanging letters or stones, but now a petty box, you may hide it in your fist if you wish…it trespasses all walls, all roofs and all boundaries and incites to trespass all blockades…no need to speak lest someone should listen to. With a few words, everything time, hour, and place are fixed, besides no one objects who is going where to. Yes, the people of his vicinity were conservative…unaware to the gusts of time but busy in warding off its blows…that is why they were lagging behind in the race of life. Shaukat filled the brain of Ruby with new striking imaginings, in her dreams, eyes and on her lips currents thrilled. Each of her limbs used to charge with the electric fluxes, that is why Shaukat used to caress her hands and lips,

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The Honeyed Truth then uttering ‘seee’ he slithered away as if he touched the electric wire, then all of sudden he embraced 440 volts. Shaukat was from her distant relations, mouth-spoken brother of her alone sister-in-law. First of all her sister-in-law frowned as she didn’t like Shaukat, but when she observed his inclination towards Ruby, she thought to get rid of her sister-in-law and began to encourage him, and Shaukat increased his sojourns at that house. Ruby’s mother wanted to oppose his frequent visits but her daughter-in-law made a gesture towards Ruby’s youth and adulthood. She was the mother of olden times, Radio and TV had already made her aware of hassles of the new age and therefore, she began to sip bitter draughts keeping her eyes shut. Though she watched both of them vigilantly…but the surging emotions of youth cannot be barred alone with the watchful eyes and on the other hand Shaukat began to be squeezed drop by drop. Shaukat kept his visit unhindered and talked to Ruby in a way as if she would very soon become the daughter-in-law of his mother. This thought in the house was also a source of encouragement…but when his sojourns prolonged, one day Ruby’s sister-in-law behaved in a very straight but stern mood to Shaukat… and in response Shaukat while lowering his eyes but looking sneakily at Ruby’s each limb who was moving around in the yards said, “Just think the matter will be confirmed on the next coming Thursday as soon as mother returns.” The daughter-in-law informed Ruby’s mother about the matter and she became contented because only three days left to Thursday. She while being at home, began to assess by heart the cost estimate of beds, rice, utensils and meat. She seemed as if she was counting beads on the fingers

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The Honeyed Truth while assessing expenditure incurring on the guests, and on a few Ruby’s readymade suits. The next day there were whisperings between mother and the daughter-in-law. They both went to the bazaar leaving behind Ruby at home. “Today they have a long programme of shopping,” this programme reached to Shaukat through SMS. Ruby’s brother used to come back at Saturday night and return (to his job) at Sunday’s night. Sometimes if his wife became insistent, he used to go very early in the morning before the sunrise, after cuddling his wife stealthily. This obsessive sight many times made Ruby emotionally disturbed…so that day was the day when the love of Ruby and Shaukat was stamped. “Thursday isn’t afar, it is tomorrow. In a month you will be my bride.” Ruby didn’t know, but she felt the voice of Shaukat hallow despite her fondness of modernism. After the tempest had stopped, Ruby was considering herself helpless. Thirst was piercing its fingers in her throat; the inner conservativeness was dominating the lessons of modernism. “Good! Now don’t make me bore.” Once again Shaukat cuddled her with a little annoyance. Now the next phases were easier, besides appetite makes every dish delicious. In the evening Ruby’s mother and sister-in-law came back overloaded with different items and they noticed the face of Ruby changed. The mother embraced and caressed her forehead; her eyes gave expression of the nerviness of her heart, but they thought it her natural shyness. They consoled and advised her, she didn’t know what they had been speaking to her. The body of Ruby had been thrashed like a

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The Honeyed Truth bundle of cotton, she was scattering into particles. Dust blew to the farthest end of her existence. She was experiencing fear, gratification and drowsiness, but she didn’t know where bickering love had gone that gave her delight. At night she frequently woke to have dinks of water, and many times fear addressed her from her inner side and then who knew how many Thursdays went by. Shaukat changed his SIM, perhaps his mobile and life too. No damage occurs to SIM, it may be changed whenever one wishes … after two or three months it revealed to them that on that Thursday it was Shaukat’s flight to Dubai. In the evening, dizziness and tense eyes of Ruby made three of them understand that thenceforth they would have to do offerings of honour on the shrine of love in spite of kindling lamps on every Thursday. The mother and sister-in-law went everywhere enfolding themselves in the shawls, but neither the nurses nor LHVs did heed to them. They said to them, “Pardon us, go to somewhere else; those times have gone; now a case is lodged by the police in case the matter goes wrong.” The mother and the sister-in-law couldn’t loiter place to place and in consequence, as a lost resort, they imposed restriction on Ruby to go out of the house. She wasn’t to appear before the guests or anyone who came in the house, sometimes with the excuse of fever and sometimes on account of sleep and sometimes on some else pretenses. Every day was going on increasing burden on the lashes, body and conscience of Ruby. The same sister-in-law who was willing for her descent departure was then ready to push her into the well. Thanks to God, she didn’t inform her husband, perhaps for the reason

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The Honeyed Truth that Shaukat was one of her relatives else the drum might have been beaten in the whole city. Then the night came when a shard of flesh came out of the body of weeping, tossing and sighing Ruby, she didn’t even know how it got vanished in the darkness of night. In the effort of stifling her cries, her lips began to seep, the cushion was ragged from different spots. She had been feeling a soft touch of unseen existence, on her body, to the extent that she slept. It was a long sleep, when she woke perhaps it was the first part of the next night. Booms of pain were rising in her breasts and in the next moment her Qameez began to get soaked. A flash of pain arose in her womb; she bent back with the intensity of pain. Then all pains of her body and soul awoke simultaneously, when she looked around, her mother was trembling on the other bed in her sleep. She made attempts to get up gradually, she moved hands over her soaked qameez, the smell of immature milk again asked something from her womb and it began to trouble her. She got up dragging herself; she searched for something on the bed of her mother, in the room of her sister-in-law, in the kitchen, in the bathroom and then she sorted the whole house…where is he? Then she thought a thing that becomes a symbol of disgrace isn’t bothered anywhere… and he…no, no…she shuddered…she looked to her mother attentively… whether a mother can do so or then sister-in-law…where he had gone…rubbish like disgrace. No one knew what wild thought gripped her heart and mind; she enfolded her

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The Honeyed Truth shivering shuddering body with a shawl, opened the door tumbling and got herself vanished in the darkness. “What is all this? Everything seems strange, cold, cold …my body is stiffened… when my extremities move… it seems as if they are fastened with something… strange kind of smells are here…where have I come at...that sensation of softness… where I float with my own accord… a petty secure world… how light and peaceful the body was…now it seems as if I am sinking down and down…how much stifling it is here…what is piercing into my body… now I cannot get up too… my back aches…what kind of strange walls are all around…these swishy…hissing sounds…what the ticking sound it is… noise sometime sharp and sometime low…torments my ears… the drums of my ears seem to gash…where the soft sound has gone that used to hum gently…talked to me…now wept then laughed… told me tales…I couldn’t understand but the voices and words were soft…I swayed as if I was in the cradle…with a sound…there was but rustle with softness…neither hunger nor thirst.” “I recall my throat is dry for the long time…I am feeling hungry and thirsty too…I have been crying at the top of my voice but that soft sound doesn’t respond…I don’t know where it has gone away…this sound of splashes… these sounds… mews… growls…what is this all? Dim light is coming but where from…strange shadows are coming to me.” “They are growling at one another…I am scared…it seems they all are to pounce on me…where is that who had soft voice…why she doesn’t come to save me…to get myself saved I move my hands and feet…but something is wrapped

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The Honeyed Truth around me…and my back is quite stuck with the thing beneath…oof…so much pain…my arm…” Again there was a growl and then a muffled cry. Early in the morning a trash-truck came roaring and stopped beside the trash-container placed along the boundary of the playground…there was a flock of cats and dogs… fighting among themselves…as usual abusing them, the trash-men made them run away… but one dog remained there halted, it was jerking something. Shafique hit on its back, the dog went aside yapping…but stopped at a few steps…its mouth was littered with blood…Shafique looked at the shred of flesh amid the trash-container…he abused the dog and began to collect trash…but what was that? A tiny hand ripped up to elbow, was lying beside the shred of flesh. Shafique had heard such tales many times but it was his first chance to face the situation…his words of abuse and breaths stopped simultaneously. He stumbled and couldn’t maintain his balance; he tried to call for his colleague but his words didn’t get expression of his tongue. Instead a sound came out of his throat, his stomach gorged to vomit. While seeing Shafique staggering and leaning against the truck, his colleague turned to him…came to Shafique…seeing his plight he said, “Shafique is it all okay?” Shafique couldn’t speak but horror scattered over his face… and fearful eyes made him understand that there was something rotten…on his insistence of the second time, Shafique made a gesture and his colleague followed his eyes…the hand ripped up to elbow, no one knew to whom it was bidding farewell… then his heart too became nauseous… but he was accustomed to such situations…he patted the

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The Honeyed Truth shoulder of Shafique and advised him to wait in front cabin of the truck and said, “You are yet new…you will have to see many such ripped bodies, consequence of illegitimacy and craziness…leave it I shall do the job.” These dialogues fell like stones on the heart of someone who was shivering, shuddering and weeping, stood behind the tree, enfolding herself in a shawl. She sank down as if strengthless, the sighs that came out of her mouth, she bound them in the corner of her shawl. She turned into a bale of cotton while trying to suppress her cries in her mouth and booms of pain that rose from her womb. After a few moments the truck left the place roaring. After a while Ruby got up in a state of vain hope, “It isn’t necessary that it may be true that I have been thinking…but it is the only place near my house.” She looked around at the ground extended to the farther end and thought, “Here are only a few houses, and near them this trash-container…” She was bent upon to refute the arguments of her heart…almost dragging herself she reached the trash-container where the remains of trash were lying here and there, unseen cats and dogs were lingering around. Ruby threw stones at them, the dogs ran away yapping, and began to lick blood smeared on their muzzles. The cats mewing ran here and there. All of sudden like a cracked woman Ruby began to sort the remains of trash…but she didn’t get anything but a piece of cloth…she looked at it hard…turned sides of the piece of cloth…and sank down onto the ground with a heartrending cry.

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The Honeyed Truth That piece of cloth was a part of the same shawl which her mother brought for her…to put on…on Thursday…Thursday that never came.

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Fictions Farheen Chaudhry  

The Honeyed Truth

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