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Amanat, My Guardian Angel

Amanat, My Guardian Angel

Walking back home, I recalled the last night’s dream. He was consoling me, saying, “Doud tchu tchaalun!” (We must endure the pain).


When my friend’s fiancé became one of those summer slain, I couldn’t help thinking: What if, mine too?

Outside on the streets, they were raining nails. I saw bodies getting bored around me. I tried to shield my granny, my aged rebellion, but ended up scarring myself.

It was the same classic combat engaging us with trespassers since the Mughal Durbar dominated us. But in that searing summer, the cathartic shrill had echoed — loud and clear — driving out all and sundry for the pending promise.

But when that signature struggle restarted, silence suddenly became scandalous. Hardly anyone could stay indoors and neutral. Even my septuagenarian granny came out “for one last time”.

I saw women hitting streets, going medieval with enforcers. I joined the fairer troupe on the fierce offensive.

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Shall I say, it was surreal? No, it was only realistic.

Such street sojourns never ended that year. In my hamlet, when they denied doctor, that gawky blacksmith became our default surgeon. But we girls had to be our own help.

By then, they had plunged us into darkness. So we sat in those dark rooms lit by candles and tried to be our own patients, nurses, surgeons. But some needles were too deep and dogged to set us free. They continue to hurt us.

To light up our grim moments, I tried to become a jester. But the mood stayed militant. Instead of smiles, I could only evoke scoffs. Perhaps defiant times are devoid of even dark humour.

But in those conflict times, his thoughts consoled my rebel heart.

I had last seen him when he paid me a surprise visit. He was wearing a smiling face when told me, “I am ready to take you home!”

“Does that mean you have a job now?”

“You bet!”

We were in love for the last eight years and eagerly awaited the day he would complete his studies and start earning. Our cherished moment finally came early that summer.

Time passed. Defiance continued. Crackdown intensified. And then, one day, came the news: “Something hit his heart…”

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“Whose heart?”

“Your Amanat’s!”

For the first time, that name sounded strange. I tried to tell myself, “Look! It can’t be your Amanat, for he’s the guardian angel of your love.”

But then, truth was, I lost him in the storm that consumed many Amanats of the vale that summer.

Wearing those destitute shoes felt terrible. A part of me was gone, forever ripped off.

No consoling worked. No cheer up trick charmed. Sometimes in my silent mourning, I would become mad, questioning this ritualistic routine of consoling and comforting each other in the face of the constant carnage around.

So, when those women were trying to console me, I told them, “Our fallen deserve better farewell than these tearful eyes!”

But despite feeling it—and feeling it quite badly, I couldn’t even utter a single word. Perhaps, now, the loss was deeply personal.

Weeks later when they saw me singing dirges for my beloved, they mistook me for some mad mystic. But amid atrocity, my family lost track of me, until something else happened.

Some 40 days later, a neighbourhood was hosting a simple marriage party. I was there with my mother who somehow wanted to cheer me up. Folksongs fuelled the festivity. Everything was going fine, until I started my unwitting utterances.

I was shrill enough to silence the merrymaking. Hearing me singing, the young boys demanded emancipation at the altars of the wedlock. And those vociferous women only made our marriages a defiantly auspicious occasion.

Days later, I was walking through my hometown bazar briefly opened on the resistance call. Despite everything being the same—the streets, the shops, the shoppers, the signs—something was missing. What was it? I had no idea. But I knew I wasn’t alone feeling that way.

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When that gentleman grocer was killed in our neighbourhood, his wife and two toddlers suddenly became an anchorless boat. But then, I saw his daughter standing firm in the face of torment. “My Papa is with angles now!”

We both cried in each other’s arms. That kid’s tender spine motivated me to at least fake normalcy—however, it never worked.

At times, my woebegone heart failed me. It failed me again that day in the market when I saw a glimpse of my departed beloved.

That man driving a cab had a stark resemblance with Amanat. I tried to stop him raising both my hand and pitch, “Am’maaanat!” But he swiftly departed, leaving me in tears and torn apart.

My resurgent grief gathered the people around me. They were familiar with me, and perhaps, with my sorrow, too.

I tried to tell them, “I just saw him!”

But they wouldn’t listen.

“Go home, Gobur!

“But…”

“Just go home, please!”

Walking back home, I recalled the last night’s dream. He was consoling me, saying, “Doud tchu tchaalun!” (We must endure the pain).

I saw no bleeding hole on his affable heart. He was wearing that calm face and sounded quite reassuring.

“Nothing lasts forever,” he told me, “not even that coercion and this grief. But till me meet again, ‘Doud tchu tchaalun’.”


(This Short Story appeared in the January 2021 print issue of the Mountain Ink.)

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