Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Have they come to take my doll?

She was the only girl child in a family of ten children. The only other female in the house was the mother whose job was to bear children and then look after them and their father. Father was a loving person but did not understand what it meant for a woman to be a woman. Although he came from a large family, nobody had taught him what a woman wants, or if a woman can want anything. He worked hard for his family and came home only to give rest to his aching bones.

Her name was Naazeeya. She had just turned six, the youngest seed. Her nine brothers would hardly be home to play with her as either they had gone to school or to work. Mostly it was work as schools were often closed owing to the unrest in their region. Naazeeya had already learnt a lot of cooking as that was what she ought to do. There were no books for her, no pencils, no school-bags. She sometimes would ask her mother why she could not go to school and her mother would remain quiet. Naazeeya had the thirst to learn. Her eldest brother Zafar saw that thirst and would often try to teach her the alphabets. It was just that Zafar had to go to work too and did not get much time. But deep in his heart, the brother doted on her sister and never missed a chance to teach her.

In her solitariness, Naazeeya had a special companion - a doll her mother had made at home just for her. Naazeeya named her doll Gazal. When her mother asked why she chose this name, Naazeeya replied, " I sing songs with her, I feel so free and happy with her....just like when I hear you sing a lullaby for me or when Zafar reads me a poem." In the house that smelled of just male sweats, the doll was the only symbol that stood apart - a mark of nurturing, a sign of the feminine, the lone token of tenderness.

That night, the family was about to sleep as usual when there was a knock on the door. It was their neighbor. Naazeeya could not hear anything he said as he spoke in hushed tones. Father was worried after the neighbor left. He whispered something in Zafar's ears. Then he went to bed. The dark hours rolled on with dead silence as a companion. Naazeeya drifted off only to be startled by loud noises and screams. She woke up to see there house in ruins.

'They' had come. Everyone dreaded their arrival. They smashed everything in the house. It seemed like they were searching for something. Naazeeya nudged Zafar who stood holding her sister's hand tightly. She wanted to ask Zafar but he shushed her. The entire family stood there - jittery, shaken, nervous and speechless.

One of 'them' threw Father on the floor and asked if the kids go to school. Father replied in the negative.

"Are there any more books here, any toys, anything?", one intruder howled. A small pile of books had by then been set alight.

Naazeeya gasped on the word 'toys'.

"Zafar, have they come to take my doll?", she sobbed.

Before Zafar could answer, the intruder approached Naazeeya. There was nothing but rage in those eyes, blind and insensitive rage that had no mercy for anyone. He tried to rip the girl away from her brother. But Zafar would die before they touched her. He fell to his knees and caught the intruder's feet.

"Leave her. She doesn't have anything. She doesn't play with dolls. She is dumb and stupid and foolish. There is no place for silly stuff here. Please leave her. See....see.....this is what she made....and this is what she calls her doll....and I took it from her....and I tore it.....I tore it....see.....There is nothing else...," hysterical Zafar took out a paper with the picture of a doll on it. The paper was crumpled, and the doll's face was badly scribbled over.

The intruder relaxed his hold and looked menacingly at Naazeeya. The little girl's eyes were flooded with tears. Her whole body trembled as the man flung Zafar away from his feet and went out. The other men with him were gone too.

The shattered room lay still. When the sound of the feet died down, frozen and stunned sister dashed towards the fallen brother. Her trembling hands wrapped around Zafar's bleeding head.

"Why did you do this? They could have killed you. I am so sorry....I am so sorry.....Are you alright....? Who were they? Why did they do this? Why.....Why.....why....???", she wept bitterly.

Zafar hugged her little sister. After she had calmed down, he said,

"I knew they were coming. I hid your doll last night. I dug it in the backyard. It is safe. But from next time, keep quiet."

Naazeeya promised. She cleaned the wound and covered it with a cloth. Zafar got up.

"Let us dig out Gazal."
The two walked towards the backyard.

(If you like to read more brother-sister stories, do check out another story I wrote here - http://istoppedtosmellarose.blogspot.com/2014/11/gul-and-faiz-how-many-times-have-i-told.html )

[If you like my post, I feel good. If you leave a comment, I feel great.]

[Visit http://www.top10reviews.in/ for interesting articles.]