‘Va bes gucha chaan‘, a familiar hymn; a familiar place!He sees the pine tree at the end of an illuminated patch that resemble the front lawn of his house. The scales on the bark are smudged and move in unison with the murky background.The resounding hymn turns into a deafening roar! As if saying, “HEED ME NOW”. His toes kiss the verdant green as he flails, half afloat, trying to locate the sound through the haze. With his escalating restlessness, a thick fog blankets him and he drifts and spins not knowing which side is up.A thought overtakes his panic–it becomes his North Star– and with an urgency sets him down on the lawn again. “I have to pee,” the thought repeats itself.Everything becomes familiar once again.The pine tree resumes its spectacle; it seduces him closer with the barking of the scales and the wiggling of the needles. Dazed yet conscious of his urge, he relieves himself while the grass tickles its way up to his shin and he lets out a giggle.Just when everything has become mellow the second part of the hymn booms ‘Deyain le Deyain‘. Calling forth a menacing haze to sucks at his sight’s marrow once again. The ground shudders and slips beneath him. He is falling and petrified he tries to shout! “…Aaa”
‘AAAA….!’ The shout has seeped into walking life and he checked in an instant.
Remembering the dream he checked his trousers with dread. ‘They are dry. It’s fine,” he let out a sigh.
The hymn continued from the adjacent living room, ‘Nur e Saa Debayee!’ He laid there connecting the dots but still hoped that the sight of the beam and panel ceiling will melt the dream away. It didn’t but an approaching sound did.
The clatter of the tea set and footsteps from outside perked up his ears. Anticipating his mother, he slid back from the thin mattress so that the top of his head now touched the carpet. Out past the wide-open door, he saw the ground cloudless and blue, as far as he could see, while the tall coniferous trees seemed to hang from the sky.
The tinkle and clatter the tea-set crossed the room and halted right after. His mother must have had a glimpse of him while she passed by, for he saw her walk backward on the cement ceiling and stood right in front of the door laughing at her son with her hazel eyes. She wore the traditional attire of shalwar-kameez and dupatta while her dark hair was tied in a thick long braid.
He smiled back at her with deep dimples and laughing eyes. Her motherhood seeped through the comical sight as she chuckled, “Qaym! Just be careful not to twist your neck.” He nodded his head back as in agreement but only ended up stretching his neck more.
“That’s enough! ” a smile followed the order still and she added, “Come have breakfast with your dad and wake up Salman too.” This time he did not nod, not out of obedience but because he was too busy picturing his inverted world where the teapot and the cups slam into the wooden beamed floor that ran throughout the house.
The clatter dwindled as he rolled on his chest and kicked the blanket that clung to his feet; once free, he tugged at his brother Salman, who was fast asleep. In fact, he sang to him the same hymn, “Va bes gucha chann, Deyan le Deyeen, Nur e Saa Debayee,” which translates into :
Wake up o child from your shut-eyeWake-up and RiseTo the light upon light
Salman opened his eyes, turned towards his younger brother, and give him a lazy shove for he was still singing. He ignored the wall clock and looked out of the door to judge the time. He stood up, fixed his parted hair, and strode off into the washroom, leaving Qaym to loll about on the mattress. Qaym, unlike his older brother, did not like going to the washroom first and also the mattress had a greater hold on him.
Salman came out of the washroom in no time. Qaym’s gaze followed him as he made his way towards the door, crossing the empty bed and the cupboard, stopping only momentarily to tighten his belt and fix his wet hair. Before heading out he glanced at his brother before whistling out of the room.
“Show off,” thought Qaym taking his turn at the washroom, for unlike his brother, all he could do was spew spit instead of a tune. He did not let it dampen his mood and was out of there in no time.
Without drying his face he shot out of the room on to the veranda. The house was of the shape of a ‘Tetris Z’ with a veranda facing the lawn. He couldn’t find his shoes, so decided to do without them to save the precious time. Salman, he spied, was already seated alongside their parents on the lawn chairs on the Square Leg Point of their cricket ground.
With caution, he descended the stairs and got onto the hardened soil footpath, where he tiptoed his way through the lawn opening in the barbed flower-bed. Once on the grass, he jogged past the cricket pitch, which the grass has given way to, and reached the breakfast on the table.
“Asalam O Alaikum, mum and dad,” he greeted his parents who gave a heartened reply after seeing his comical tip-toe followed by the dash.
They were halfway into the breakfast as his dad was refilling his cup. “Salman has done well to catch up,” he thought who was munching a jam on toast besides their father. With a tucked-in shirt and cotton pants held tight by a thin belt he almost mirrored their dad’s attire; the only contrast: his colorful BubbleGummers shoes.
Qaym sat close to his mother so much that he leaned onto her while she prepared a jam on toast for him. A Hoopoe bird caught his attention as it flew across the lawn from the pine trees at one side to the fruit ones at the other; It landed on his turf of the brothers’ favorite climb-in pomegranate tree. Both Qaym and Salman loved that old tree in particular as it had many places to spaces to sit and hang out. It was their tree house, their eccentric abode.
His mum placed a toast in front of him and poured him tea in his small mug. Out of
habit, she handed him the salt sprinkler, for they were accustomed to salted tea like the rest.
Qaym tugged at her and shyly pointed towards the sugar pot. Her mum remembering their affinity to sweet tea in the morning went on and added a teaspoon of sugar to his tea. As she stirred the tea, from across the table Salman nodded in satisfaction towards Qaym and raised his brows as he sipped from his sweet cup of tea.
Their parents would not know this until years later that their children would always try to have breakfast with their father, for they thought it was the only way for them to have sugar in their tea.