Author: Zahida Raeisi
He tried everything in order not to go, but the strong muscular hand holding him was firm. He did not have any strength and was forced to accompany the man. After emerging from the school premises, he would be allowed to go wherever the man wanted.
He tried to inform his mother all day long, but opportunities were scarce. He did not know how to inform his mother when he had arrived home. He was often running after his mother and chatting with her casually, so scared that he would forget to tell her.
He treated his mother with such kindness about it, as if his real father was not Kader Baksh but Gholam Nabi. As if Gholam Nabi were not his step-father, by her hand.
Every two or three days later, he had to face the same ordeal. As he would leave for school, the man would appear in the middle of the exit, and he would freeze, in complete shock and fright.
‘Babol Jan, you are a very good boy. Why are you scared of me?” he would say.
“Do not be afraid of me. I am your father now. I am your close relative. Do not run away from me as I am not your enemy. Why do you go to school? You would not get any benefit from attending school. Come with me. I’ll take you for a walk.” As he put his hand in the front pocket of his school uniform, he continued, “Do not put money in the pocket for thieves. Give me the money and I will return in it to you whenever you need it, but do not tell your mother anything about this as things will turn ugly if she finds it out.”
He let those days pass with fear and trembling without uttering a word to his mother. After two months, the headmaster sent a letter to his house. It was written that he had been absent for three or four days a week, and that’s not how children should attend to school. The headmaster threatened that if it continued like this, it is would be best if the child stayed home and not attend school.
After reading the headmaster’s letter, his mother wondered where her son was going instead of school. He had a lot to say to prove his innocence, but as always, Gholam Nabi exploited the situation , so much so that he wouldn’t dare even move his tongue out of fear of Nabi.
His mother was very worried, and her anxiety increased when Gholam Nabi started whispering to her mother that he had seen Babol playing near the school with street children. “I have not told you before because I would have been blamed as I’m his step father and you would think I was saying all that in jealousy.”
The boy’s soul was crying listening to the accusations against him, and secretly telling in his heart to his father, blaming him because he had passed away so soon and had left his son alone.
His mother was so confused and worried in the midst of the letter from the school and Gholam Nabi’s bitter words that she got Babol out of school and made him work as a mechanic in a garage.
Unfortunately for him, the children who worked with him were older than him and had money to buy their food, but his money went to the pocket of Gholam Nabi, and he was left with no choice but to secretly bring a piece of bread, onion and pickle from home. He did so by hiding them in his pants’ pockets every night to feed his stomach.
He could not help his situation and it was very painful for him that his weekly wage, one hundred rupees, went to the pockets of Gholam Nabi.
After the fifteenth day of his work, Gholam Nabi came to the garage and asked the supervisor to give Babol a leave for the day so that he could accompany his mother to the market.
The supervisor paid him half the daily wage and agreed to let Babol go home with Gholam Nabi. Halfway through, Gholam Nabi stood in front of him and Babol’s eyes turned black, Suddenly as if someone in his father’s voice whispered in his ears : “Babol Jan! Gholam Nabi is your uncle. Why don’t you like him? The guests are the blessings of God, never complain about his coming.”
Babol stood up and his eyes turned black as he heard his father’s voice : “Babol Jan! Gholam Nabi is your uncle, go along with him”.
A few minutes later, he remembered the previous year, when his father was lying lifeless on the bed and his mother was sitting near the bed, mourning. Gholam Nabi comforted his mother and at the same time brought himself closer to her. When Babol found out, he despised Nabi and tried to keep his mother away from him, but Nabi managed very cleverly and shrewdly, to be closer to his mother.
“ Babol, why did you stop? Let’s go…” He said
Babol looked at him with helpless eyes and they continued on their way slowly. In a half-constructed and empty building, his heart was crying. He quietly took his hand in his pocket and gave a hundred rupees to Gholam Nabi.
With a devilish laugh, he hid his pain and raised his head. He peered at the blue sky from the courtyard of the building and bit his lip. He was slowly climbing the stairs with his helpless legs when suddenly a dog’s voice reached his ears and he turned his head.
A lame dog was running fast in the building with its tongue sticking out of its mouth.
Gholam Nabi, who had just reached the stairs, stood for a while and found a flat stone in the sand next to the stairs and threw it towards the dog. The dog retreated and then angrily attacked him. Gholam Nabi was holding his second stone when the dog lunged for his leg.
Babol was standing at the top of the stairs and quietly watching the scene. He did not know what to do and Gholam Nabi called him and said, “why did you just stare? There is a large rock above you. Pick it up and hit the dog on the head.”
“Hurry up, this dog has killed me”, he screamed in pain.
Gholam Nabi cried out in pain.
Hearing this, Babol came to his senses and picked up a stick from where Gholam Nabi said and returned to his original place.
Gholam Nabi screamed in pain! “Babol, hurry up! Come down and beat the beast. I’m dying!” Babol hurried down a few steps. He was holding a large stick firmly with both hands. He looked at the Gholam Nabi once, who was moaning in pain, and again at the dog, which was holding the Gholam Nabi’s bloody leg with its teeth not knowing the dog’s name.
He threw the stick with all his strength and a moment later, with his heart racing, he went down the stairs and went straight home.
Back at the compound, the dog was still holding the bloody foot of Gholam Nabi in its mouth, and after reaching to the flesh, he was getting to the bone. Gholam Nabi’s whole body was covered in a pool of blood, spilling from the wound on his head…