The Deep Exhale (Short Story)

She was staring at the photograph hanging on the wall for quite a while. After a couple of minutes, she took a deep exhale while looking at the photograph. An exhale as if she were traveling for a long in a desert and finally found an orchard to relax in its shadows.

Her eyes were wet and misty and one could easily recognize the smirk on her face. She heard the eco of the Tamboura (Musical Instrument) with lines of Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s poetry from inside;

 “Oh God! Don’t make me wiser, since wiser has to face the sorrows”

It was ten years before his father died today. During those ten years, she not only completed her studies but also took full responsibility for her three sisters i.e. their education and other expenses.

While staring at the photograph she started talking to it with a heavy heart, Hay Cousin! I never thought that you would end your life like this.

Her thoughts traveled years back and she recapped all the troubles brought to her by her cousin. She recalled, how her cousin came their home on the third day of her father’s death and announced that;

“Hay you all, you did whatever you desired during uncle’s life, but now I am your overseer and would take all decisions for you four, so better stay home, and learn stitching and cooking so that I can find a match for you”.

On that how she had retorted holding nerves that; “My Dear Cousin! Please keep distance, our father had always aspired for our education and we shall not withdraw it at any cost. I shall bag for myself and my sisters but shall not let you intervene in our matters”.

That was the day when our whole Bradri(family clan) left us alone because our cousin was a goon and quite influential among all elders of the clan, so no one showed sympathy towards us.

She evoked fiercely, that how her cousin’s shallow smile with deep piercing eyes and evil mind followed her gaze when he said,

“I shall see how you defy me, soon you shall come to my terms and then shall see you all”.

She turns her eyes off of the photograph, and sit on the corner of ChaarPaee, (wooden netting bed). She closed her eyes and all bygone events roved into her mind like a cinema reel.

Those tuitions she gave to neighborhood children, her job in private school, and late-night studies everything was roving in her mind.

She could not forget, how always she felt scared and dreadful while walking the streets of her area, fearing that her cousin may not harm her. The amount she cried out, the more she cried inside feeling the pain given by the siblings.

Today, after ten years when she heard that her cousin committed suicide so that to get rid of his disability, he received from a road accident, she could not stop herself and came straight to her cousin’s home.

She sat down with her sister in law (Cousin’s wife) and while offering commiseration said;

“Bhabi (Sister in Law) you don’t worry, I know you are the mother of three daughters but aren’t they too are my sisters too. Don’t be distressed, you are not alone, I’m still alive and would take all expenses of your daughters and shall not let you down”. She grabbed her sister in law into her arms and kissed her forehead.

Her sister-in-law raised her face, her eyes were full of tears, she took her name and said.

Sister Asiya! After years-long persecution by my husband, this sympathy is making me shallow and shabby from inside. Please, forgive my husband, please for my sake, she was continuously crying and pleading.

She hugged her sister in law and both of them cried for a while and more. Then she left her and walked towards the room where her cousin’s photograph was placed on the wall. She took a deep exhale while staring at the photo and said with a heavy heart,

“Hey! Cousin! I never thought that you would end your life like this”.


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