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An Eternal Void

A Balochi story by Munir Ahmed Badini translated by Fazal Baloch

Munir Ahmed Badani

A fortnight after my elder brother’s death, heavy rain deluged our town. For two consecutive days, violent winds blew across the town and the sky remained engulfed in dark clouds. It was so dark that days appeared like nights. Clouds hung so low that it appeared rain would burst forth at any minute. But it did not for two days.

Our house was in mourning. During the day my mother along with the womenfolk of the neighborhood, wailed and mourned the death of her beloved son, and at night she offered prayer for his departed soul. When we went to bed, she would stay for a while at our beds and intonate some sacred lines and blow her breath one by one upon us. Before retiring to her bed, she would walk over to have an eye on the Holy Quran again. But she could not get to sleep out of grief and constantly recalled her son who at a young age had fallen seriously ill and eventually would breath his last while in pain. I noticed that during his illness my mother showed a great amount of courage but as soon as he breathed his last, she almost collapsed. She wept incessantly.

I was quite young then, and often stayed awake late at night. I couldn’t fathom my mother’s grief which I wished to share. I hoped his memory would stay forever with us. At the same time, I solaced myself that one day life would return to its normal rhythm and happiness would make it back to our house. It seemed a far cry though.

I was quite hopeful that the heavy rain would wash off our grief and sorrows. My father too was shaken by the grief but unlike my mother, he held back his tears. Indeed, death of my brother hit our house like an earthquake and rendered everything meaningless for us.

At night, towns-elders came to see my father. They chattered and puffed at the hookah*. I noticed my father’s absentmindedness. I knew he was shaken by the grief. I heard anguished groans coming from his room in the late hours of the night. I couldn’t sleep properly. I desperately wished for something miraculous to turn our sorrows into happiness.

At times some unusual events dragged us back to life again. For example, at times our goatherd failed to return late in the evening. We anxiously waited for him to show up. And then my mother would dispatch our servant to trace him outside. My father himself went out to enquire of neighbors as well. Seeing him taking an interest in something after my brother’s death made me very happy. I assumed that he was finally managing to get over the grief of having lost a son.

Thus, after the heavy rain, I was hopeful that this torrent would wash off everything even our grief and sorrows.

Initially the clouds remained suspended in the sky for two days. First it drizzled lightly but soon the rain gained momentum and relentlessly poured down for seven days and nights at stretch. Water flooded the land.

My father along with other farmers went to the fields to protect the crops and yield from the flood while my mother held the Holy Quran in her hands and sought God’s mercy. I was happy to see that she too had finally succeeded to get over the shock. I thought life was finally back to its routine. At the same time, I feared that this heavy rain would lead to unimaginable losses. But, as of yet, I was not able to forget my brother. Despite this heavy rain and flood, his memory continued to haunt me.

Last time when it rained, he was with us, reduced to a skeleton though. Yet we hoped that he would recuperate sooner or later. We never thought he would leave us forever.

But nobody can avert life’s course. The worst had happened. My brother was dead. Now all I wanted to see was for life to return to its routine path. I pinned all hope on the rain and it partially helped us to divert our attention. His memory was making lesser inroads to our minds.

It was night and my father had not returned from the fields. My mother asked the helper to go after him. Carrying a lamp in hand, he went towards the fields. I sneaked out stealthily and followed him. I remember the sky was covered with dark clouds and it was still raining intermittently. We had left our homes behind and were on the way to our fields. By the graveyard, I noticed the servant stopped and talked to someone. It was my father. I heard his words clearly:

“No matter if the flood sweeps away my fields and crops, but all I want is to save the graveyard from the flood”.

I was shocked.

From that day I was convinced that there’s nothing that could wipe my brother’s grief off our hearts.

*Hookah — an oriental pipe that passes the smoke through an attached container of water before it is inhaled.

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Munir Ahmed Badini is known as the most prolific fiction writer ever appeared on the horizon of Balochi literature. So far he has authored over a hundred Balochi novels and three anthologies of short stories. Recently he was awarded the Kamal-e-Fun Award by the Pakistan Academy of Letters. It is the highest award for the recognition of lifetime achievements in the field of literature.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

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