Author: Abdul Majid Sepahian
A short story depicting a conversation between two Baluch workers in Dubai.
It is the month of August and in Dubai, August is considered the hottest month of the year. I left my city two years ago and went to Dubai to work. Thank God, I have found a job that fulfills my basic needs and I send what is left to my wife and children.
I have become friends with some of my fellow citizens here. One of them is Sahebdad. I met Sahebdad last year and since then, most of the time we have been together in Dubai. He came to Dubai a few months after me. Like me, he left his hometown for work and came to Dubai. After a while, he will earn his living and send a small amount of money to his wife. His dream is to one day bring his wife from his hometown to Dubai and spend the rest of his life in this city. But due to the high costs of this metropolis, he has not been able to fulfill his dream so far. Sahebdad is now studying with a worker. Whenever I ask him why he is studying, he says, “To live.”
Yesterday, he was very sad and depressed. One of his acquaintances had just returned from home and had brought a letter from his wife. When I asked him why, he said, “My cousin was killed!” My wife’s family got into a fight with a group and killed one of the parties involved. A few months later, they also killed their son-in-law, who is my cousin, in revenge. He was the same age as us, he and I grew up together.”
Knowing the cause of his depression, I was thinking about what to do to reduce his depression. But I did not know what to do. I watched him in an annoying silence. My tongue did not move. My mind did not work. I was looking for something. He was staring at the wall and trying to cry, but his tears were stuck like a river behind the dam. Finally, out of sympathy and to change the atmosphere, I found something, “Our homeland is not progressing at all. And the reason is this ignorance and illiteracy. Keep in mind, if the words of the intellectuals were valuable there, these hostilities would have been prevented.”
I tried very hard to come up with such a thing. After that, I continued the conversation until all my talks was over and my information about it ended. Sahebdad was still staring at the wall. He sighed and said, “Living in such a place is a waste of life.”
I said, “Yes, comrade! You are right!” But my dear, you can not leave your homeland. Do you understand what I am saying ?! The homeland is the mother. The land of our ancestors and he sighed and uttered a common Baluchi phrase, “Oh motherland! we love you even if you are nothing but a dry wood.” He sighed again and said again with a groan: “I will die for my motherland, even if it is dry wood …. Baluch are a nation without a land …”
I said, “Brother! What are you saying? The land of the Baluch people is Baluchistan and we cannot give up on our land. We must change the situation of our homeland. This is you! You are studying now and you will not stay in Dubai for the rest of your life. One day you will definitely return to your homeland. You can not stay here for long. Love will take you there to the land where you children play. “After that, using what you have learned, you show the essence of your existence and take steps for the progress of your homeland. Wasn’t there an educated person in your village to educate people and encourage young people to study?”
He became a little quiet. He smiled briefly and then closed his eyes and said, “I had an uncle, he ran away from home as a child and left; you know! my father says that one afternoon he was sent to the market, he was beaten severely by unknown people in the crowd. My little uncle did nothing and just sobbed silently. My father narrated this story to us to us several times.”
My father says, “We all slept that night and when we woke up in the morning he was missing. We did not find him despite of searching for him. They had been looking for him for some time and there was no town or village around us that did not look for him. They asked everybody about him. My father and uncle would frantically search for their brother; every traveler who passed by our city, they would ask him but no one had seen him. He was not found and gradually everyone gave up on him and everyone accepted his disappearance. Gradually, they forgot that they had such a brother.”
My eyes were fixed on Sahebdad’s face and I was listening to his words. Sahebadd didn’t utter a word for few moments. I was surprised. I think his words had nothing to do with my subject, but his story was probably worth listening. So I was eager for the end of the story. One of the reasons is this that I wanted to free him from his cousin’s grief and find another subject in these stories to change the atmosphere. Moments of silence caused me to open my mouth, “What happened next? Uncle lost forever?”
Sahebdad got up and poured himself a glass of water from the water cooler and said, “No.”
I smiled, “How! “Did you hear about him?”
It was as if he was getting better. Now our conversation was like a conversation between two people.
“Ten years ago, I was a child,” he said, leaning against the wall as he stood.
He continued, “One afternoon, a stranger came to our city. Nobody knew him. Except for my God-fearing grandmother. She was my lost uncle who returned after fifteen years. He had become a great cleric. He wore a large turban and had a large and beautiful beard. Then he went to Deoband and studied religion there for thirteen years and now he has become a religious scholar. Wherever he has been, he has talked to his professors and classmates about his own city, talking about the backwardness, illiteracy, hostility of his city that has hindered its progress. He did not want to return and remained there after graduation. But his professors, educated people and friends advised him to return to his homeland and work for the religious and scientific progress of his homeland and to encourage the people of his homeland to study and get education, which is the way to progress. He explained himself. Years have passed since then, but I remember his words well. I still remember him naming a great cleric who said that although now no one knew in which part of the world his homeland was, but the greatest thing would be help him find and return to his homeland.”
I smiled and said, “Then your uncle must be a great scholar. He must have worked hard for his homeland and his efforts have not been in vain. Although in our homeland and yours, unjust deeds increase, but from the efforts of people like him, homeland does not get neglected.”
I was a little silent when Sahebdad smiled bitterly and sat down and put his head on the pillow and looked up. Then he said, “I was with them. Sardar, he was my second-uncle as he was my father’s cousin. The hall was very big. My father introduced his lost brother to Sardar. After greetings and conversations from all, my uncle, who saw the large crowd in the hall, took the opportunity and began to speak. I do not remember much what he said, but the subject of his speech was about religion and Islam that we know as Muslims, but we do not understand much of the rules and regulations of Islam, and we are drowned in an ocean of darkness and ignorance. He said things like that Islam is a salvation for the poor and the rich, and all people must accept it with all their existence…”
He continued, “my uncle’s speech was long, I remember some, he praised the physical strength, courage, bravery, patience and forbearance of Maulana Elias. For a moment, Sardar, who was surprised like the others, jumped in the middle of the uncle’s words and said, “Sir! Is this Maulana Elias you are describing from the Kundazi tribe?”. Uncle stopped talking in surprise. It was as if a big morsel had gotten stuck in his mouth. After that, everything changed. He replied: “No, Amir, Maulana Elias, was not a Kundazi. “He was Indian … Ah … Ah … he was not originally Baluch … how about that?” Sardar rubbed his hands on his mustache and said, “So he was not a special and important person! “Don’t talk about him anymore!”
I was also surprised. I wanted to ask Sahebdad what happened next, but he started talking again, “And we got up in the morning, he disappeared again, we did not find him as much as we looked for him. They had been looking for him for some time, and there was no town or village around us that did not searched for him. We would definitely hear from any traveler who passed by our city, but no one had seen such a person, he was not found and gradually everyone gave up on him and everyone accepted his disappearance. They forgot that we had such a brother. But I do not know why I can not forget him to this day…”
Sahebdad then dozed off. I was completely confused. I was looking at him in an annoying silence. My tongue did not move. I had not found my subject. It was no longer necessary.