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      /  Literature   /  Patrimony


    Written by Naimatullah Gichki

    Translation by Hooras Sabzal

    Uffff… Dear God, what shall I do? How did I become so helpless! I have strength, yet I’m helpless. I have relatives, yet I’m desolate. Ufffff… My throat is dry. No one gives me as much as a drop of water. My body is entirely worn out. Ufff… there’s no one to rub my feet, but why should a stranger do it for me? Human love is lost. My child! Strangers are strangers, relatives are a person’s heart and soul, but rel- atives? May dust fill my mouth if I say I have no relatives. God has blessed me with sons, they are a treasure. So how can I say I have no strength, that I have no one? Ah! I would die for you, my sons! But… O my God! What have I done wrong? I have kin and yet my mouth is swamped with flies.

    I know! My ill-fortune struck me on the day that Mazar died before me, otherwise I would not be in this condition. But I don’t say he has died. For the sake of what days did I feed him my sweet milk? For the sake of what times did I sing him soothing lullabies during the midnight watch? He’s alive. I sang wedding songs for him instead of elegies. People mocked me. I smeared his pure blood on my hands like henna. My heart is boiling, but his death appeased the hearts of the enemies. He is immortal. As long as the red tulips blossom and the red roses flourish, my lion-hearted Mazar is alive.

    Uffff… Gamdar! I would die for you. May the enemies burn. May they be immersed in constant turmoil, now that they have made me helpless and left me with no kin! May the teeth of the adversaries spill out, those who say you’ve become a coward. Child! Your exile pains me, but I know in my heart that revenge is fire. It has not been extinguished, it never will be. It is my heart’s desire that the scorching wind may never blow over you and the morning clouds may bring rain upon you.

    But Jangian, why are you so cold-hearted? Uffff… my heart leaves my body. I don’t say it, the enemies say that you are cold-hearted. I am certain that you are the same person. Your blood-red eyes are not unaf- fectionate. In the scorching heat, through the passes and canyons, your dry lips place a burning coal on my heart. The memory of your bare body in the freezing cold is a knife stabbing me in the heart, but don’t worry, my head is high. I’m helpless but my eyes are not cast down. Even if you are not a master of a palace or a fortress, at least you are not the captive of any ruler.

    Nasib! You blinded my eyes. I am ill-fated that Nasib is imprisoned. I know you growl like a lion. I know the silent groans of your heart will shake palaces and fortresses. The day will come, for sure. But only fate knows when. Uffff… is there anyone who can put some water in my mouth? Is there anyone who can lift my head a little? I’m so tired.

    O Sardu! Sardu! You languid one! I’m gasping for breath. O my son! My breath! Sardu, are you asleep? Poor you! Wake up for a moment. My dress … Let my thirst kill me, but may I not be disgraced. Strangers are looking at me. Look there. They have all fixed their gaze on me. My God, let me die. O my good Lord, I don’t know what to do! O Sardu! Damn you, may you die or may I. But you, O you, the soul of my life! I shall die for you, my son. Mazar Jan, where are you? Jangian, beware of the leopards. Gamwar, may you stand together with your brothers!

    It was Granaz, talking randomly to herself, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. Granaz was in this condition for seven days and nights, lying there all alone.

    In her happy days, fortune and luck followed her. She was a finicky woman. She did not even feel her widowhood. She had her precious and invaluable sons before her. They were happy and content. But fear was always in her heart. She knew she would face days like this. Headstrong and powerful foes had seized their legacy. She knew that when her sons grew up, they would want to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. When they were children, the legacy of their father was seized by the powerful. Who willingly gives away their property while alive?

    When they grew up and understood, they tried to claim it. This dis- pleased the expropriators. Might won over weakness and innocence. When her sons mentioned the issue, the fears in Granaz’s heart came true. The blood of one of her sons was spilled, another son went into exile, a third headed to the mountains and caves, and another ended up in prison. All she had now was a useless wimp of a son who was good for nothing. He had neither vigour nor any excellence. God had given him life, nothing more.

    Granaz was a poor and peaceable woman. She earned her living with her own hands. Now she had been unable to do anything for a full six months. Before, she had taken pride in her health and paid no attention to any illness. But now her health was gone. She could neither stand on her feet nor work with her hands. She was entirely destitute. She was so poor that she didn’t even have a second set of clothes. Her body was dirty and bruised, and she stank.

    Before, the neighbours would sometimes ask how she was doing, but now out of politeness no one asked. Now, everyone was waiting to hear the news of her death so that they could mourn without a single tear. At this time, the one who “took care” of her in her destitution was her in- capable son. He had neither ability nor aptitude. God had given him a soul and nothing more.

    Among all her fruitless endeavours, she now tried amulets and talis- mans, but in vain. People said she hadn’t made the necessary offering, and that’s why the spell didn’t work. She had even sought help from every shrine and fakir. But they won’t do anything out of charity. Wealth is a gift from God. And as for herbal treatments and decoctions, she had knocked on every door to get this stuff, but there was no way for her to restore her health.

    This night was grim for Granaz. She had been groaning and wailing and now she was half unconscious. At the moment, she was so weak that she couldn’t make a sound. Sardu raised her head and poured some drops of water in her mouth. He saw that her eyes were fixed high up, at the roof. Sardu’s body began to tremble. He tried to wake his mother up, but she did not respond. Sardu’s throat became all dry. His eyes were filled with tears.

    Granaz was breathing with great difficulty. Grandma Telyan came running.

    “Congratulations madam! Soba’s wife has given birth to a baby boy.”

    Granaz opened her eyes a bit and looked at the sky. She had a death rattle. Her eyes became glassy. With the second death rattle, her soul was set free.

    Source: Unheard Voices