The Dwindling Light

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By: Nida Hanif

He was trying to start his bike when his mobile rung up. “Hello! It's Saqib speaking.” “Hey man! Where are you?” It was his best friend Hammad.

“I’m on my way. "Don’t worry, I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” and the phone hung up.

Hammad and Saqib were best friends. They lived in two different but adjacent colonies, one at the back of other. Hammad was an intelligent boy and position holder in his class, but after matriculation due to bad company, he lost his position and now was unable to get admission in professional college. Saqib was new in the area but had a bad reputation. Their bad character, so, was their main and only introduction to each other and gradually this introduction had turned into best friendship. Being free all day long, their only and only job was to spend their whole day in net cafes and night in different restaurants and hotels fooling around people; greedily ordering and eating different dishes and not paying the bill.

Their meeting time for night was 11 O’ Clock. One night, when it was 13th August, Hammad happily entered the main street, their meeting point, but was boiled as Saqib was not present there. He sat on a stone in the corner, called up Saqib and now was waiting for him to come. The lamp above his head suddenly started flickering. 

“Hey lamp! Don’t you know who is sitting under you? Oh, so you are afraid of me. Yes, Yes! I am the superior one of all boys in this area.” Said Hammad proudly as he watched the lamp struggling to light up.

Suddenly, he remembered something, “Oh, today’s 13th. Hurrah! Tomorrow will be 14th August meaning I can take Rs. 500 more from dad to celebrate birthday of Pakistan and today we will go to Dunkin’s donuts, specially chocolate flavoured.” Thought Hammad with his mouth full of water.

“Saqib, come fast. Today I have the best idea of the year. Well, tomorrow Pakistan will turn … umm … umm... 47, 67,77,87,97 and 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, hmm 57 years old. Turn 57 or turn 100, it’s of no use for me I only need to remember birthdays and ages of my friends,” he thought carelessly.

“I don’t know why so many people died for Pakistan? Was it of any use? Useless struggle and useless history.” He slowly started to remember the main events of freedom struggle which he had studied in school classes.

“Formation of Muslim League, Khilafat Movement, Migration Movement, Allahabad session, Lahore Resolution and bla bla bla. What stupid things are these? Can these events of old world guide us in this new era; never, never, never. Separation of land meant nothing. If we were Indians today, so what would have happened? Well there’s no difference in Loly Wood and Bolly Wood.”

Hammad was so involved in his thoughts that he took no notice of the watchman, who had several times asked him that who was he and then walked away thinking that he as a mad.

“Ouch, stupid ant, an ant was running on his foot. He killed the ant but the pain had reminded him of the agony of 1947.

“It is true that rivers turned red train had their passengers not living ones to gain attention of others. All these stories were developed.” Suddenly, he saw someone coming. His condition revealed that he would have been a very strong person in the past but at that time, he was looking very weak. He was seriously wounded so caught Hammad’s attention.

“Who are you man? Who has beaten you? Tell me, I will teach him a lesson.” He was really shocked to see such type of man in his area. “I’m called Pakistan”, answered the coming man in a weak voice and almost fell down near Hammad.

“I’m wounded by my own people, those who own me, who were mine and I was theirs. Their forefathers had spent their lives caring for me but these people, they have never asked me, ‘How is you dear Pakistan?’ The lamp over their heads was continuously flickering.

“I … I need blood, young and hot, for my survival. No one can ever count those people who died just go give me life. Babies were slaughtered, sisters jumped in rivers, mothers lost their sons, wives. Their husbands, all the people; there everything, just because at that time I needed the foundation of bodies and blood to become strong enough to stand and to give shelter to those who still survived for me, to built me as I was their dreamland. They received trains full of blood and dead body parts and said nothing. They quietly left their castle like house. They received 6.5 million refugees happily and gave them shelter and they knew, they had to face more sorrow as well but just for me, they tolerated. They kept on with their mission; giving me hot blood for my survival, for my development.

Nowadays, I am feeling very weak. This generation has turned cold blooded. They don’t care for me. Why? Am I not their country; their everything? Said Pakistan with tears in his eyes and fell down. Hammad almost yelled out.

“Pakistan, Pakistan, please get up, I … I … am … I will help you, please get up….”

But he felt that Pakistan was dying and his last moments were near. “Pakistan, please don’t die.” He almost wept. “I … I have no more stamina. 57 years have passed. No one cares for me. My wounds are increasing everyday. My skeleton is being broken by the people who call themselves Pakistanis. I … I can’t survive. Let me die. I don’t want to live … to see how the sweet dreams of my caretakers destroy. Please leave me.”

“No, please Pakistan get up. I … I will take care of you. I will give you what you need, my life, my strength, my blood, my family, my everything.

“No,” said Pakistan with a sad but dead smile. “You are so busy the whole day. How could you give me your everything? You…”

Please Pakistan, don’t say like this. I will do what I’ve said. It’s my promise. Yes, it’s my promise.” Said Hammad in a firm voice.

“Hey Hammad! To whom are you talking? It’s no one around.” It was the voice of Saqib, Hammad’s best friend which brought him in reality. Now he realized this was all his imagination.

“Hey Hammad! Why you are so serious? Today’s 13th. Tomorrow Pakistan will turn 57. Come on, today we will enjoy to our limits. And do you know I forgot to fill my bike, so I decided to go on foot. So, I’ve come here all the way walking. Hey what has happened to the lamp?” Saqib was very excited and was telling him his story but he felt Hammad was not listening. He was somewhere else.

“Dear!” Saqib finally shook him, “What’s the matter?” “Saqib, today we will go nowhere.” Hammad at least said in a low voice.

“What? Is it a reality or I’m sleeping?” “Please Saqib! We will go nowhere. We will not enjoy the way we used to. Its true, tomorrow Pakistan will turn 57, but I am thinking, should we celebrate this day and we know, we’ve done nothing for our homeland, have given nothing to it?”

“But see Hammad.” Saqib tried to give proofs, “What Pakistan has given us? People are jobless, they are sleepless due the defective security, people are …”

“But Saqib, to achieve something, something has to be lost. Yet, Pakistan has given us identity. We are Pakistani’s today; it’s our home, our everything. In fact, we have failed to give Pakistan an identity; an Islamic one.”

“Saqib, come on, lets promise today we will do what we can for Pakistan, for our motherland. We will sacrifice everything. Insha Allah, we will!”

Hammad was really enthusiastic so Saqib had no other choice except to agree with him.

“Ok! Let's promise, and together, they shook hands to promise each other. Hammad could see an end to end smile on Pakistan’s weak face.

The lamp over their heads suddenly fused. Hammad looked up at the lamp. “We know dear lamp, our ways full of difficulties and there is no light to seek our way. Only we will move forward in the light of our good deeds. The blood of our forefathers will lead us to our goal. And as an example, the freedom struggle will guide us.”

And quietly, they walked away in the dark night of 13th August, towards the goal which needed rivers of blood crossed and their everything sacrificed. Yes their everything, just because they had to fulfill their promise; give dying Pakistan a new life!