Warmth -Khadiza Binte Mostafiz

-Hey, Zaid!  How do you feel?”
-“I don’t know haha. But I guess I’m in a good mood because I’m starting a conversation with you”
-“Oi Oi are you saying that it’s wrong to talk to me, huh?”
-“Haha oh please do forgive me for my rudeness.”
-“Hummm apology accepted.”
-“Haha great!”
-“Today is a beautiful day, isn’t that right Zaid? The wind feels good. And the clouds look soft and happy. What a beautiful day!”
-“You forgot to say Subhan Allah!”
-“Subhan Allah!”
-“Haha good.”
-“But you know it would’ve been better if there was no traffic jam at this hour. Soon it’ll be time to break the fast.”
-“No. I don’t mind. Even now, I become excited when I see traffic jam. Can you see those street children?  Traffic Jam is really comfortable for them.”
-“Oh comfortable for those brats, huh? They are just here selling useless crap. Forcing us to buy those. This is one of those reasons why I hate traffic Jam.”
-“I see.”
-“Eh why do you look so sad?”
-“Sad? Oh no.  I’m not sad. It’s just that I remembered a book I once read long ago.”
-“What was it about, Zaid?”
-“It was about a small boy. Who had no one. He knew a women, whom he used to call mother. But that was a monster in disguise of a women. She used to beat that young boy every day.”
-“Oh my god! What a sad story. How can a mother be so cruel to his own son!”
-“Yes, she was cruel. There was another person, you see. That monster used to call him Hanif. That little boy thought that “Hanif” meant devil. And whenever he used to meet a devilish guy, he used to call them Hanif.”
-“Wait why?”
-“Because Hanif used to torture that boy’s mother. Hanif was her husband.”
-“Hey that means Hanif is his dad, right?”
-“No. Hanif wasn’t his dad. That woman was a prostitute, you see. Her father sold her off to a brothel. When she got pregnant, she ran away from there to save her child. No matter who is the father, she is surely the mother. So, she ran away and married that man named Hanif. But Hanif never gave her any peace.  She was tortured mentally and physically. Every time after the man finished beating her, she used to beat that young boy. Because it used to help her remove stress.”
-“Oh my! I feel so sorry for that young boy.”
-“But you know, one day Hanif started beating that young boy. And that monster woman shielded that young boy. For the first time ever, she started fighting against Hanif. She Started screaming, crying and begging.  And Hanif stopped beating that young boy, instead he started beating that monster. The monster started crying in pain and she started smiling in happiness. She looked at the young boy with the most loving smile and told him to run away. That night, that young boy cried and cried.  Because that monster woman was no more. She will never bring any food for him ever again. She will never pat his head ever again. That young boy understood that he will never again feel the warmth of her hug on cold nights.”
-“Hanif beat her to death?”
-“Was he arrested by the police?”
-“Hahaha hahahhha haha”
-“What the hell,  dude!! What’s so funny??”
-“He wasn’t arrested. Justice and peace don’t exist in places like those.”
-“And then?”
-“Then what?”
-“I’m talking about that young boy. What happened to him after that?”
-“Then that young boy started to live in the streets. He started to sort out dump with some other street children.  He met a boy named Selim. Selim was an energetic boy. He helped that young boy in lots of ways. Selim even let him sleep with him under the same blanket. And soon Selim and that young boy became good friends. But one day, while they were sorting dump, Selim fell into a open manhole and died.”
-“After that, the young boy was alone again. He started doing many things in order to get by. Shoe polishing, working in welding factory, selling icecreams etc. And soon after he started selling stuffs in roads when traffic jam took place. But only few people used to buy those. People were rude toward him. There were days, when he couldn’t sell even a single thing. There were days when he stole money from people’s pocket to buy food. But one day, he was caught and was beaten. He thought he was going to die. He begged to those people to let him live. And those people were kind enough to let him go after punching and kicking him severally.  A man even spitted on him before leaving.”
-“I can’t believe it. What happened after that, Zaid?”
-“While that boy was lying in the street with all those serious wounds,  a women came running toward him. That boy couldn’t remove his eyes from her. She was a beautiful middle-aged woman. Her hair was covered with a pink scarf. Her eyes were filled with tears. She was crying non stop. And she started patting him in the head.  She picked him up and hugged him. And that young boy felt her warmth. He started remembering that monster woman and started crying. That woman was crying too. Her tear drops seemed like shining pearls to that boy. And then that woman started raising him as her own son.  She was a childless widow. When she saw that young boy getting beaten she couldn’t hold herself still. So, she came running toward him. Her husband and son died in an accident.  When she saw that young boy lying in the street covered in blood, she remembered her son’s dead face. And she couldn’t hold herself any longer. She picked him up and gently kissed his forehead. And hugged him tightly.”
-“And then? What happened then, Zaid???”
-“Then she never let him go. She raised him like his son. She gave him love, care and affection. And more than anything, whenever he used to become sad, she used to hug him, and the boy felt the same warmth he felt back at the old cottage.”
-“Ah truly what a beautiful story. I feel so happy for that young boy. After so many hardships he finally found happiness.”
-“Yes”, said zaid
“Mister will you please buy these beautiful roses? They are really pretty”, said a little girl.
“Sure. I’ll take all of those”, said Hasan. “And here take this 1000 taka”
The little girls stared at him with confusion.
“Mister, I don’t have enough money to give you the change”, said the little girl.
“Change? There’s no need for that. Take that 1000 taka and hurry up. Cars will start moving now. You’ll get hurt. Now, hurry and go.”
“Thank you mister”
The girl ran with a smile. And Hasan stared at her with joy. Cars started moving as Hasan kept staring at her.
-“Say Zaid,  who is the author of that story? I’d like to read this story.”
-“What the hell, dude! What’s up with that laugh?”
-“Sorry. But I don’t remember the author’s name nor do I remember the story’s name. But I remember the story as if it is a tale from my past.”
-“Sigh. You are such a forgetful guy! Anyway have iftar at my place once.”
-“Sure, In shaa Allah. I’ll take my leave now. Allah hafez.”
-“Hum See you tomorrow at office.”
Zaid waved at Hasan as the Taxi kept moving.

-“Daaaad! Dad! You are so late!”
-“Sorry Zahra! There was a traffic jam”
-“Come on Zahra, let your father relax. He is tired”, his wife said with a smile.
-“Assalaamu alaikum. Sorry I’m late.  I wished to help you with the preparation for Iftar.”
-“Wa alaikum assalaam. It’s okay, you are tired enough, dear. Get fresh, much time isn’t left. Besides, we have a surprise for you.”
-“Yes Dad! A surprise!  Grandma came to visit!!!”, Zahra exclaimed with excitement.
And then Zaid gently held Salma’s hand and kissed it. She is smiling.  20 years ago, this hand saved him. This hand patted his head. And this woman picked him up and hugged him, like his mad mother used to do. n

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