By Zameena Manekia
‘Every morning as I wake up to the smiling sun, a ray of hope fills my heart and I wish to see my daddy come back home again, his strong arms lifting me from my mattress and hugging me tight while whispering words of apologies as to why he left me all alone, and promising never to leave mummy and I again.
But that never happens; instead I always have to look into my mother’s angry glare, her face screwed into sternness, her red eyes swollen from crying all night and her beautiful face now thinning and wrinkling visibly. I quickly jump off the mattress, dress into my shabbiest clothes while glancing at my hand me down school uniform, recalling the days daddy would drop me off to school in his brand new bicycle and I would rush to class with all my friends, learning the newest of lessons and playing the best of games.. Ohh what a life,
‘Saaaalim! Get out of the House and rush into the fields before we face another day of hunger, GO!’ my mum’s loud voice is utterly sound
thrashing as I hurriedly freshen up and rush to the fields, and as I leave the house, I sneak a peek into my mum’s face, and notice tears of sorrow filling her eyes in the midst of her angry glare.
‘One, two, three, four, ten, thirty, forty.. I go on counting as I persistently, with all my force plough the field with my spade, each time I bend and hit the soil, dust clouds my vision, disabling me to view anything for a few seconds, my eyes burning, my face covered in soot, and my hands and legs screaming in agony with my back killing me from pain. Sweat beads erupt into my forehead soon Covering my whole body as I tirelessly try hard to earn for a few morsels, Boy! I’m fed up of this work designed for built men. Daddy would be so angry to see me working like this, he would definitely go and tell the babu off..
Daddy! I just heard his voice! I quickly drop my heavy spade only to find out that it landed heavily on my foot. I wince in pain, my eyes tearing up. But who cares? Daddy’s here! I hop onto one foot and quickly rush out of the field, and towards the main road..
A ray of hope…
Once there, I squint my teary, burning and red eyes toward the street.. Observantly hunting the tall, built and handsome daddy amongst a crowd of people walking through the street, several people look down at me with utmost disgust due to my shabby state, I ignore them and follow the sound of my daddy’s strong husky voice, his commanding tone and his fluency of words. I break into a run, my pain forgotten and as I reach nearer, the sound begins to disperse.. I run as fast as my tired legs could carry me, my pangs of hunger sharply hinting me to slow down..
And there! I see him! ‘daaaadddyyyy! I shout, and my dad turns, our eyes meet, my eyes filled with tears of pain, happiness, and burns while his eyes bear a look of bewilderment.. He walks towards me and I open my arms and rush to him, closing my eyes and savouring the moment.. Any second now.. And our lives will be all right! I’ll go back to school and mommy won’t have to work so hard either, I’ll get affectionate cuddles, tight hugs and ample of bed time stories, Yahooo!!
I wait and wait with my eyes closed, my arms outstretched, now aching from all the strains my bones have to deal with, my brain udges me to open my eyes but I refuse to give in. My eyelids flutter madly and with the pain in my body screaming with agony, I finally give up and open my eyes, my heart shining with hope, my brain rapidly flashing images of my dad and I doing all the things he promised me, my excitement mounting, the seconds ticking like hours as I slowly lift my gaze upwards, fully expecting my father’s presence.. But he is not there.
I quickly move my head left and rightand back again, I turn around, my eyes fill and the lump in my throat hinting me that my happiness has just crushed, where is he? baabbaaaa! the people’s absurd stares annoy me as I shout my dad’s name, but I don’t care, I only want my daddy, and there! I see him again climbing onto a cab, baaaabbbaaa! This time my scream is mixed with joy and sorrow
as I run towards the taxi as fast as I can..
My dad turns again at the sound, his expression blank.. Our eyes meet.. Three feet apart break into a run..The car begins to move off the driveway and hits the main road, speedily taking my dad away from me.. That is when my brain tells me, ‘salim, he is gone for good now ‘ya habibi, please stop crying’ I nestle into my mum’s arms, as she holds me tight, burring my head into her chest as I subsidize the loud sobs, my mom rocks me back and forth while chanting words of hope that it will all be okay, but how can it be all right?
How could daddy just walk past me without even pausing to look at me, let alone talk to me? How could he forget his one and only son who loves him more than anything in this world? A son who never disobeyed him, a son like me, who never ever believed in what the gossip said ,that my daddy did t love me and mommy anymore and has another wife with another son.
No!! I scream between my sobs, my heart aching from sorrow, my brain numb with grief, I can’t do it anymore now! ‘Hush my precious ones’ my mum’s muffled voice soothes me slightly and finally the emotional and physical exhaustion takes over and I fall asleep In her strong and sure arms.
And so the days flip into months, and I’m still ploughing the fields, earning a few shillings a day, enough for only one meal daily, my tired body now accustomed to the pains, my heart still flickering with a ray of hope as my eyes watching young girls and boys walking to school every day happily chatting without any strenuous worries, their lives set, and their future secured..
Maybe one day,when Al shabab decides to leave my country in peace, when mummy will earn more money selling pots and when the entire world joins hands to help us from this severe drought and famine, and maybe when my daddy decides to come back to mummy and I..
Maybe one day.. Everything will be alright.