My father disappeared in Ramazan and only I know the truth
Abu’s Jinns returns to narrate the horrific tale of a young man witnessing what truly happened to his father during Ramazan, being the only one who knows.
I know what happened to aba jaan. Only I know about my father disappearing that fateful Ramazan, in the whole wide world.
When we were young – Saad was perhaps two, and I was nine – we were told that aba was dead. “He is in heaven,” nano would say and ama would wipe the tears with the edge of her dupatta. I didn’t know why my mother was unhappy. After all, aba was safe with Allah – swimming in rivers of honey and spending time with nana abu.
When I turned fifteen – an age where I was termed awara by family, for not being home on time, and titled lucky by my friends because I had no strict father to govern me – I felt like the man of the house. However, during one such scolding for missing the curfew, I was told that aba had gone to fetch milk and he had never come back.
Yes, my father disappeared in Ramazan. ‘We never had a funeral,’ my ama sobbed
‘Because we still don’t know if he’s dead’, she said, ‘And you’ll leave like him and never come back.’
I had hugged my ami and had stayed unexpectedly quiet, which to her was alarming, for she had just told her son that his father might be alive. But you see, like her, I too did not know if he was alive or not, but I knew what had happened to him.
I knew what had happened that day, and somehow, between me and the thunderous wind, and the angry sky on the first day of Ramazan, it remained a secret.
I sat on the uncomfortable purple sofa, sandwiched between a pile of unfolded clothes and cushions whose tassels were unnecessarily long. Aba sat across me on his bed with his legs crossed. His feet were large and swollen. They’d always been the size of melons, probably because of diabetes. His stomach plopped open his shirt, under which he wore a grayish-white shalwar.
Even as a child, I had a great observation, or maybe I recalled that one day long enough to have it plastered in my mind, like one of those vibrant Smash posters I used to collect as a preteen. I don’t know where ama was us din, but it was almost sehri time, for the clock was striking two.
I had forced myself to stay awake because I wanted to keep my first roza and though aba was against it, and had called me his sukhi mirch, he had smiled at my determination. But now that I think of it, maybe it was a goodbye smile – the kind that older people give on their deathbed when they’ve seen a glimpse of heaven.
‘You’re such a weakling,’ my father would laugh before that fateful Ramazan. ‘One day, a strong wind will come and blow you away.’
He was asking me about my homework, or about whether I had fed Tipu, our cat – it was one of the two, when ama walked in and told him that we were out of milk. Aba said that he’ll go get it, but he remained sitting on the bed, legs crossed and all, talking to me, with not a care in the world. All I could think was about milk, calculating the time aba would take to wear his slippers on those large feet, and then go downstairs, and then out the door, get milk and then come back. There was also the possibility of him forgetting his wallet, which he often did.
‘Aba doodh,’ I reminded him and he looked at me, with the wut, on his forehead as ama termed them, completely erased.
‘Aa jaye ga doodh bhi,’ he replied and asked me to go help my mother. ‘Close the door behind you,’ he added.
Obediently, I got up and went outside. Halfway through the walk down the corridor, I recalled that I had forgotten to close the door, so I rushed back, to do so. Aba wasn’t strict or anything, but what he said, went, and so we had never known the consequences of upsetting him. As I turned the knob and pulled the door toward me, I saw the eeriest thing.
The small terrace that we climbed on to – to fly kites in early February, opened through ama aba’s bedroom. The door was always locked, and we used the one upstairs. That day, aba had jolted open that gate. The weather was harsh – I could hear aba stepping out, and I could hear the rain, and the rustling of the leaves.
Instead of closing the door, I chose to disobey – step in and see him. There wasn’t a particular reason I did that- shaid I didn’t want to help ama. For a few seconds, aba stood still, but then he spread his hands in the air, as if he was praying or calling out, and with the light from inside the room outlining his reflection, I could see him getting drenched.
The droplets had just started to attack him, when he leaned down and to my horror, let himself fall off the railing
I ran after him, as fast as my tiny legs could carry me – with my voice stuck in my throat. And when I leaned down myself, I saw that aba was on a horse – a literal ghora with wings, brown and black with smelly hair – there was nothing majestic about it. Before I could understand what it was, or how it worked, aba flew away.
Right in front of my eyes, I saw him sit on a horse with wings and disappear into the light blue sky.
We didn’t have any lassi for sehri that day, because aba had gotten late ‘fetching the milk’. Ama said that he would be back any second, and that I should hurry up and go offer the namaz in ‘awal waqt,’ but I knew better.
The wind had come and had blown aba away. I thought I wouldn’t sleep, but I had been too tired staying awake for the first roza that I slept very peacefully. I dreamt of horses, but not the particular kind that I had seen.
The next day, I saw aba’s Bata shoe in the garage. ‘Must have fallen off,’ I thought. Him and his large feet.
Cover image via shutterstock.com