Written by Nasim Dashti
English Translation: Fazal Baloch
“Meet your aunt.” My uncle pointed towards a beautiful girl.
“Her…?” I asked, astonished.
“Yes, yes. She is your aunt Dorgol.”
The moment I heard the name Dorgol I slid back into a labyrinth of memories from the past ten years. The gazelle-eyed Dorgol, her beauty, fair complexion, straight nose, beautiful arched eyebrows, and flowing hair would drive passionate young hearts to the brink of frenzy. But more than anything else I adored the beautiful smile that played upon her crimson lips. I was shocked to hear her introduced as my aunt Dorgol, because I had been in love with her since childhood. But now that she was married and the mistress of my aged uncle’s house, there was nothing left for me to do but wonder and reflect. Tears streamed down from my eyes. I sighed with grief. But for the sake of my uncle I did not reveal my distress. Even so, the burden was too heavy for my weak shoulders to carry. Sad as I was, I got up to leave without showing my emotions, but I felt like the burden of the whole earth was on my shoulders.
“Assalamo alaykum.” I greeted my uncle and scurried out the door.
“Walaykum salam.” May God be with you.
I lay face-down on the bed in my room. The storm of worries and anguish swept me away. I wondered at how our culture had stained itself with such evil practices. Many youths like me yearned to have their desires fulfilled, but were helpless against the cruel traditions. I was extremely hurt by the marriage of my 80-year-old uncle to Dorgol, but what could I do about it? Giving even a single piece of advice to an elder was regarded as a huge insult. Therefore there was nothing left for me but sighs of lamentation. So in my desperation I began putting questions to God.
“O God! What have I done wrong? Why did it turn out like this? Was this your will too, to let Dorgol, who was entrusted to me, adorn someone else’s home? Is this only a dream? No. This ‘dream’ is about a real situation.”Tears streamed ceaselessly from my eyes. My world was in ruins, and my uncle’s prospered.
The entire world was enveloped in destruction, yet stars were twinkling in the sky. The star of my life, though, which had grown bright after a long time, was now flickering. The world of my hopes was enveloped in darkness. There was nowhere to turn. At last I called out to saints and sages and walked over to the mosque to lighten the burden of my heart. There I cried out to God:
“O God! Why did it turn out this way? Ten years ago in your sacred house Dorgol and I vowed and promised to stand by each other’s side through thick and thin. But what am I seeing today, after ten years? The bright moon of my life is pouring out its light in someone else’s house. It’s true that the world is very cruel, but you never were. Forgive me, but were even you unable to tell them that Dorgol was entrusted to someone else.”
One day I was on my way to see a friend when I saw Dorgol coming the opposite way. I stopped, but she kept talking to her friends and walked past me without even looking at me. I was astonished to see her so full of herself.
Days turned into nights and nights into days, and I grew sadder and sadder. I wondered why Dorgol always passed me by without saying a single word. It was as if she did not recognize me. I decided to ask her why she was so haughty that day. So I went straight to her house. Upon reaching the door, I found her sitting in front of the mirror doing her hair and putting on make-up. It was not the thing an eastern woman would do. I was sad to see her in such a condition. I stepped in and closed the door. I was very restless. She asked me in an arrogant tone: “Tell me, what is the matter?”
“Yes, I mean you. Tell me why you are so afraid.”
“I…I… Won’t you mind?”
“No I won’t. Tell me.”
“Yes, go on.”
“Dorgol, we pledged to live together. Why did this happen after I left? I returned with so many dreams and wishes, but all of them are reduced to dust. I just want to know if this all happened with or without your consent.”
She lowered her eyes and answered in a low voice, “Yes, with my consent.”
“So all those promises we made in the mosque, you forgot them that quickly?”
“Times have changed a lot…”
“…and in this world of progress, one needs wealth one needs riches.” I finished her sentence.
“You know, Karim, I’ve no interest in your uncle, but I am interested in his wealth and riches. He will soon leave this world. Why should someone else inherit his wealth?”
“Stop talking nonsense! I will not allow such a cheating woman as you to live. You will get the reward of a great transgressor, so that you may not be able to trick any other man.”
I caught hold of Dorgol’s throat like an eagle swooping onto a sparrow, but my hands trembled, and I was interrupted by a voice:
“Why are you destroying your uncle’s world? The man who bore all the expenses of your studies and granted all your wishes, today you are trying to destroy the world of his desires.”
I went straight to the mosque and fell face down on the mat. Evening passed into dusk and dusk into night. The hour seemed drawn-out, as if time had come to a halt. My tears fell like pearls on the lap of Mother Earth. I stood up and walked out of the mosque. My heart was heavy.
Sorrow, trust, love, betrayal, life, Dorgol, Uncle, pain, heart, grief, anger, companion, friend, dislike, faithlessness, world, riches, wealth, love, betrayal, death, life – all flashed by on the screen of my mind.
“Where? Where should I go?” I asked myself. With downcast eyes I struggled with my sorrow. What is life? What is faithfulness? What is that thing called love? Where is my path?
Then a pain arose in my heart.
Here is the knife. Uncle is fast asleep in the embrace of his young wife. I can see Dorgol in my uncle’s arms. Her gazelle-like eyes are closed, and her mouth is open.
I was frowning with anger and the blood was running faster in my veins. I bit my lip. My hand reached out for the knife, and I made my way quickly to my uncle’s house.
All of a sudden a dog barked and interrupted my dream. I lifted my eyes. The moon of the twentieth winter night was about to set. The earth and sky were asleep under a sheet of light. The sky was clear and the stars were twinkling. Fallen leaves of trees crunched under my feet like a broken heart. I fixed my eyes on the moon and stopped. The moonlight filled my heart with light. Woe, woe, what a life. Lightning flashed in the darkness of my heart. A wave of love steered its way through my heart. This bright and yellow moon, these fallen leaves, these withered flowers shared my pain, my anger, and my grief. My eyes welled up and my heart expanded like heaven, and stars began to twinkle in its expanse.
This wide earth accommodates even a dishonest woman like Dorgol.
Of course life is beautiful for my uncle too.
May he and Dorgol live long in this flourishing world with its moon, stars, and colourful flowers.
I turned back from the road to my uncle’s house and took another route. I was moving with rapid steps and these words softly escaped my mouth: “Uncle… Dorgol, forgive me.”
Originally Published: Abdul Hakim (1970). Gechin Azmank.
Courtesy: Unheard Voices