Md Azmain Amin
“I promise I will return, mother. I promise by your love”
The last words of Shafkat reverberated in Shimul’s head. How long since she last saw her precious son, her sole reason for survival? How long since she tightly wrapped her arms around his small framed body? It had been too long to bear, too long to wait, that she knew. Every day, she kept staring at the long barren road in front of the house, hoping with all her might she would spot the shadow of an oncoming young man with a stubble, spotting her Shafkat.
The ongoing liberation war tore down her life and the lives of millions of others, a ruthless monster feeding on the despair of people, fueled by the hatred and the animality of human beings claiming they fight to establish peace. Peace…. a word without a meaning for Shimul. The meaning of her existence is thin, barely existing; the wind of Shafkat’s promise kept the flame of her life burning.
As Shimul woke up for her early morning prayer, she falteringly went to Shafkat’s desolate room. Her heart refused to beat as her eyes lay upon the empty made bed, and the book that he was reading before leaving for the war. Shimul hoped that it was all a nightmare; that she would wake up with the beautiful innocent face of her son tensely peering at her, his concern and love for her etched in his face when he would ask: “What’s wrong mother? Did you have a bad dream?”
The fantasy, the temporary bliss of her imagination, broke the dam of emotion, and the waters of her anguish flooded her. She started to cry heavily, her frail body heaving and threatening to quit. It was the same every day. She cried and cried, until her eyes had no more tears to give away, until she was too tired and dejected and the sun shone mockingly on her face from the window of Shafkat’s room.
But he said he would come! He promised! Surely, he wouldn’t dare to break a promise with his mother? He never broke a promise, Shafkat was the epitome of humanity, the best of God’ s creation to his mother.
But it was war. It doesn’t discriminate while killing, and doesn’t certainly choose to keep the good people alive. Will Shafkat’s promise and his love for his mother be enough to guarantee a safe passage to his mother’s arms? Shimul’s mind was numbed with these thoughts.
She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she missed to notice the swirl of dust on the road, and the sound of footsteps fast approaching.
A sharp rapping of the door jolted her from her oblivion, forcing her to come back to reality. She trudged towards the door, her mind refusing to focus on anything other than the framed picture of her little child, smiling, as if there was nothing wrong in the world.
But suddenly she stopped dead, rejecting to step forward, because a macabre thought sent a chill down her spine. The news of fallen soldiers on the battlefield are brought to their houses by a person. The person at the other side of the door might give Shimul the news she was dreading; the news that would put out the flickering flame of her life: the death of her son.
Mustering all her remaining strength and courage, she slowly twisted the door handle and began to pull the door open. It took her several seconds to get adjusted to the light of the dazzling sun, but once her eyes adjusted, her face became rigid. And she heard a familiar voice.
“Hello Ma, I have come to fulfill my promise.”