THE SPECIAL DAY
Translation by Sonia Ahmed
It was a cold merciless morning. The sky was cloudy. A cool wind was blowing. He was standing in the balcony of his rented house and was busy looking outside. The wind was carrying all the filthy stuff gathered on the footpaths and was throwing it in the air. Dust came right into his nostrils which annoyed him and he turned his face towards the silent houses across the road. These houses seemed to be deaf and dumb and the only sign of life was the seldom barking of some dog. The street was usually calm and silent.
Such silence was also prevailing in his room where he was standing. The closed windows of the room had blocked the fresh air and the temperature in the room was a bit warmer. The beds in the room were covered with recently washed bed sheets and smelled out the soap which was used for washing them. These bed sheets were used only on special occasions like today and reminded him of the public officers who are considered important only when they are invited as guests or chief guests at some occasion.
He closed the window and started pacing the room. He looked at the floor and saw ants making a zig zag line from floor to ceiling. Following this line he looked at the ceiling of the room but could not ascertain the starting point of the line as the two way traffic of the ants was confusing him. He was so busy in searching the starting point of the line that he did not know when his wife entered his room. She watched for a while and said:
“You have spent a lot of time in studying the ants…you know it is a special day today…the day comes after a year again…” Her voice was full of satire and rage.
His wife had cleaned the entire house for this special day and her mood was rotten. Such cleaning always made her mood very dangerous.
“Special day…after a year…every day comes again after a year, my dear…and is same for us…special day, festival, occasion…does it make any difference for us…?”He replied.
“Wait…wait…keep your philosophies with you…these ideas are better kept in your books that you read…she cried in a painful voice.
He looked down and started gazing at his feet. His toes were peeping through the holes of the socks he was wearing. This Eid day(a religious festive for Muslims) had come when he had consumed all his salary in buying the bare necessities of life and a few bucks were in his pocket, saved for the bus fare to go to the office. Drowned in his thoughts he lifted his head, went to the bookshelf and idly started placing and replacing the books already placed nicely. It looked as if he was searching for a particular book.
“These books are very dear to you…more than your children…haan…” The wife shouted again.
“No, no, I was just thinking to rearrange these books….” He replied calmly.
“Why these special days come every year…He thought, if it does not happen he would have been saved from agony, distress and unnecessary spending beyond his earnings. He looked at his wife who was now busy in repairing the clothes of the children so that they may wear them on this special day. Seeing her busy he stealthily left the room and went out of the house.
The outside was full of bustle and activity. People wearing nice and tidy dresses were looking happy. Children were wearing colorful dresses to celebrate the occasion. His eyes were filled with tears and with a heavy heart he started walking besides the foot path towards no defined destination. His feet took him far from his house and he found himself on a bus stand. The bus came and he boarded on the bus. He used to travel by this bus daily as this was the only affordable conveyance for him for his office. This bus had always been thickly populated and he never had a chance to get a seat and used to travel in standing position on the working days. Today, he was the sole passenger of the bus. He threw himself in a seat and it put a smile over his pale face.
He did not remember when and where he got out of the bus and after walking for an hour or so he found himself on the Mall road. This road is usually jam-packed with cars, buses, motorbikes and pedestrians. It was very difficult to even cross the road in working days. It was a holiday today and the busiest road of the city was deserted. An amazing thought crept into his mind and he started walking in the middle of the road as if he has invaded the place. He was walking in the middle, murmuring, muffing and grumbling when the screams of the tires of a car coming from behind and filthy language jolted him. He rushed to the footpath. A person with red eyes and a big face yelled:
“Are you blind—swine—-you were going to put us in great trouble on this special day….”
The young girls sitting in the back seat of the car laughed satirically and the car left with its engine roaring. A funny clown was hanging in the rear of the car, making clumsy faces with the movement of the car. It seemed that the funny clown was saying….”Special day….special day….”
This prick of the special day did not leave him even outside the house. He spat on the road with full vigour, kept on walking and reached near a cinema house. It was closed at that time. He started watching the posters of the movie and his mind was visualizing the performance of the actors only by seeing the posters. He was tired of walking. A public park was nearby and he sat on a cement bench in the park. The cool wind was blowing but the sunshine had a little warmth. There was much rush in the park. People were having fun on this special day. A beautiful couple, recently married came towards him. The boy, very nicely, requested him to leave the bench as he wanted to take a snap of his wife.
He left the bench and then left the park as well. While walking, he came near the zoo and thought what a fool he was. He could have taken his children to the park and the zoo on this special day. His pocket could bare this expense at least. Immediately he rushed to the nearby bus stand. He had no idea about the time he spent outside the house. The sun was setting when he entered his house.
“Oh..you have returned Sir, welcome back……had you told me you were coming, I would have arranged for a welcome ceremony…” his wife shouted in a cold voice.
Getting into his room, he threw himself in the chair. His wife was yelling nonstop but he was visualizing an untidy, filthy room where the tables were full of office files and registers, his colleagues were doing office work and gossiping as well. He was visualizing the main entrance of the office where the lift was installed. The office lift took him in his lap and he felt he was free like a bird…the special day had passed.