Short Story: HOPE

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PAHELGUM

It is limelight winter evening. I stand firm on my decision, while searching the deepest point in the Jhelum. I am not one of those water environmentalists nor a typical nature lover. I disown the paradox, world and this city. It has amplified every effort of mine into a debacle. I am fed up with this rat race and non-negotiable give ups! In fact I may get at least some relaxation before being burnt in hell for eternity, as the common belief is. So here am I, wishing good bye to the world of pain and only pain, saying, ‘That is it! No more now.’ By now your guess work is perfect; I am an aspirant of suicide. Since afternoon I have been walking the streets of Lal Chowk waiting for the crowds to disperse, so that no one turns up to…… save me! That’s right!

Though today it appears like no one has a home, or, like watchmen they will spend the night on the roads. While waiting, I have wasted enough energy to force myself to rest. Sitting alongside beggars on the bridge completely recognizing the irony – they are here begging for life and…I?” For a fraction of a minute I think good of life, then shake the thoughts out of my mind pondering at my own disastrous experiences. Eventually my eyes get heavier and my body becomes a little tipsy.

In no time a man is standing on the bridge looking towards the sky, muttering something to himself. A tear rolls down his face plummeting into the muddy water. Steadily he widens the distance between his arms, his heart pumps blood like a gush as he anticipates the outcome. Meanwhile he closes his eyes… and jumps!

My senses are choked from conveying anything. Somehow I totter to see him fall. Briefly I notice other faces in the same posture, observing the same thing time and again till it all is a trite site. After that there is a lull but not before I witness a trepidation.

Some mob comes out from nowhere reaching the bridge and the act incongruent with the previous men. Again there is this killing silence followed by another kill. This cycle goes on, and on, till a conundrum of quietness comes into existence; an unpleasant calm overshadows everything! Now of course, it is no more a boring activity but full of apprehension and anxiety. It seems the city is nearly empty; none, nowhere.

I break into sweat – from my red, hot forehead, almost turning unconscious with fear. I think endlessly of what I am going to do? No people!!! No one! Completely frightened by the notion of total solitariness. The vacuous spaces and streets turn me into a statue, into a man who is suddenly transported to another world.

“This is the real hell, is it hell?”

Hence I perform an involuntary action, in fact what I had come to do, only the purpose is an absolute contrast. Repeating the same old trick of stretching arms, a tear, closed eyes and not to forget, the jump! As I am nearing the water, I become conscious of some known sounds, first from the near-by temple, then the invitation from the mosque, the muezzin crying, “Come towards God, come towards success”. The moment I strike the water my hands start hurting me. My eye instantly opens up, I am on the bridge! On the footpath! Initially I felt I am dead. But seeing people coming out of their houses, with certainty I sum up, that for the whole night I had been sleeping here. The most important part of it was only a nightmare! I walk to the edge of the bridge, observe the river punctiliously and smile!

As the sun rises, I journey back home. May be there are some interesting things stored in life

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