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Visit from the Afterworld
Life has taken such a dark turn for me. Everyday seems to be a struggle for me to breathe, for my oxygen has left my lungs, the blood has left my heart. My love has yet not seen the light of day. All these 3 years, I am waiting to the face, that o so divine face of my love, my Ishaat. People here say he’s dead and that he was shot in battle in Kandahar where the police happened to find him. But I don’t believe this. He comes to me every night. When I close my eyes and lay down, sleep deprived, he appears before me, embraces me, and whispers sweet nothings into my ear, just like how it was before he left. I would turn and twist in my bed, with him in my arms, But stupid Ammi (mother), she thinks I am mad. How will she know what it feels to be loved and then to be deprived of it for three whole years?
Insha Allah he’ll come back soon, I thought all this while. But today, he came back. And no, I am not dreaming. He came today to see me. At 12 am sharp, I saw him standing by the well where he had first proposed his love for me. You will not believe how unbelievably happy I was at the moment. I feel asphyxiated. I could not move. My eyes scanned his lovely, muscular figure, his lotus like eyes lined with black kohl, his stubble, dark straight hair and that subtle waiting smile. I saw him, finally, with his arms wide open, expecting me to fly into them and never leave him for eternity. I didn’t waste time thinking. I ran to him and held him tight.
Something was different though. Something felt new. He had an unusually heavenly glow now. He smelt like freshly bloomed roses..! He had a sort of divinity to him today. Was it because I was seeing him after three long years? Was it because of all the rumors of his death? Or was it just my love that was making me lose my mind? I held him close to myself, like I always did, so that I heard his fast heartbeat. But this time, I heard no heartbeat. This took me by surprise and I sprung out of his tight hug. I looked at him, the moonlight illuminating his handsome features. Instead of getting lost in his beauty, I just took one look behind him. There was no shadow.
The hair on my skin stood up. My eyes widened and my hands shivered in fear! “Who are you? Why do you look like my Ishaat? Are you trying to make fun of me, make fun of my love?” Tears rolled down my cheek as I said the above words. Confused and afraid I stood there. That’s when this being walked towards me, his gait, the same as Ishaat’s.
He came close to me, brushing away me tears he said “Mehul, This is me, your Ishaat. How can you not recognize me? Has my absence erased my form from your mind?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was Ishaat’s voice of course, but it had a certain sweetness which made me want to get lost in it. But then fear overruled every bit of attraction to him and I muttered, “Why doesn’t you heart beat anymore? Why don’t you have a shadow?” That’s when I realized that maybe the rumors I had heard about Ishaat were true, maybe he had met his...no..!!!!
Ishaat sensed the tension on my face. He held me by my shoulders and said “What you are thinking now is both true and false. I am dead for the world, but alive for you. My soul has left my earthly body. Look into my eyes and you will know everything.”
Not daring to disobey, I most willingly looked into his beautiful light brown eyes, but to my horror they soon turned red and in them I saw him, my love being shot at like a dummy by some people in kaki uniforms. I presumed that they were the police. I was sweating profusely and tears trickled from my eyes seeing Ishaat being shot at like that. I felt the urge to scream but when I opened my eyes, I couldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t move. The shock of the truth was too much to handle for me. I closed my eyes, not being able to look at a single drop of blood fall from his beautiful cadaver. But the noise of what this ghostly being was showing me made me open my eyes again. There I saw Ishaat falling in battle, his last word being ‘Mehul’. I felt a vibration go through me. I felt my insides twisting. Ishaat was dead… I couldn’t believe it. I closed my eyes and screamed for what seemed like a life time and I broke away from the man who held me and ran as fast as I could…
I could not sleep the whole of the night. I couldn’t open my eyes either because the fear of seeing that thing which looked like Ishaat still scared me! Ishaat… he was gone. He would never come back… I couldn’t believe this. My sight blurred due to the water filling up my eyes. Wasn’t there anything I could do to bring him back? Hadn’t I waited for him for three whole years? I couldn’t live with this truth. At that moment I knew what it felt like to want to die.
The next day, I didn’t violently wake Ammi up from her sleep. I freshened up and went on to do my chores. Every minute seemed like a year now. All I could see was Ishaat, everywhere, all the time. My heart beat very fast when I thought of what all I had seen and felt last night. I wanted to rip my insides off but I couldn’t… When Ammi woke up, she saw that all the work was done and that I was sitting near the door, calm and melancholic. She came next to me and checked if I had a fever and kept asking me if I was alright. But I couldn’t speak. For whenever I opened my mouth to say something, the truth that I had learnt about my life choked me!
Days were useless, nights were sleepless. Life was loveless. I felt lifeless without my Ishaat. All along I had lived with the hope of seeing him one day. But now that hope had been shattered to pieces. I looked up at the skies, cursing my fate. I closed my eyes. I felt broken within. With a huge sigh, I opened my eyes only to be staring into a sea of red. I wondered why the sky had changed color. But that’s when I realized what I was looking into. The ghost’s red eyes!!! Horror slowly sent chills down my spin. I tried moving. But I couldn’t. I didn’t want to look, but I couldn’t close my eyes. I didn’t want to hear those hooligans shooting down my Ishaat, but I couldn’t shut my ears. Paralyzed as I was at that moment, I wished to get out of that excruciating environment. The next thing I knew, I was lying on my bed at home.
Ammi, with worry written on her face, was pacing up and down the room. One look at my opened eyes and she sprang on to me, bombarding me with questions, “What happened to you? Why did you lose consciousness? You think just because I your step mother I don’t care about you...” I couldn’t catch the rest! All I could think was my Ishaat and there came the tears again. This perplexed Ammi even more! But I couldn’t do anything. His memory and that god forsaken ghost were haunting the life out of me.
Hakim saab (doctor) told Ammi that I was in some sort of shock and as a result of that, Ammi decided to send me to Bhaijaan’s (brother's) house for a few days so that I could relieve myself of any tension, if I had any. Bhaijaan was more than happy to have me over! When we were small, we used to spend most of the time together, playing, pulling each others’ hair, fighting for mangoes in Ramu chacha’s (uncle's) orchard. All that changed when Ishaat came around… oh my.. Ishaat, and there come the tears again. Why can’t I get passed him, why can’t my mind free itself of his memories? I went around silently, confused and sad, much to bhaijaan’s worry.
After dinner, he took me aside and looked curiously into my eyes, only to see them moist and tired. “What happened? Why do you look so? What happened to you Choti (little one)? Tell me”. I couldn’t keep myself shut; I flung into his arms and cried my heart out. He realized that my sorrow found roots in Ishaat’s death. He consoled me, speaking positively to me. Though I listened and reciprocated well to all that he said, my heart just kept asking how long these words would keep Ishaat out of my thoughts.
At bhai’s house, Ishaat didn’t trouble me. But when I came back home, the feeling of being lost came back all over again. Ishaat and his red eyes never let me sleep in peace. I soon became so Ishaat-phobic that I behaved insane many a time. Thoughts of his losing him, thoughts of that being all troubled me in measures too much for my heart to take! But then, I thought to myself. Why was I scared? What would be the worst thing that could happen to me? I would die. But then that’s nothing to be scared off. I would gladly accept death to be with my love, to be with Ishaat. After all at least if this ghost kept coming back, hen I would get to him, my love, in some form. I can cherish that memory forever. With this thought in mind, I would go and stand by the well on the night of every full moon expecting my Ishaat.
And he didn’t disappoint me. He came again, from the afterworld- to see me! This time, it was just love and no fright. I went and stood next to him. His eyes, ever so beautiful, and no longer red, looked straight into mine. I held out my hand to touch his well toned torso where a heart once used to beat frantically when I was nearby. From time to time, he looked sadly onto the tear-stained cheeks and sleep deprived eyes of mine. And then, I saw something that broke whatever bit of my heart was left. A tear made its way out of eye and onto his cheek, onto my hand. I tried wiping its pathway off his face. But it didn’t erase itself.
That’s when Ishaat said “Don’t even try, Mehul. It’s a tear which will not erase itself. I maybe dead. But my feelings for you still burn like a flame within my formless self. The days you used to get scared of me, those were the days I truly died because I expected nothing but love from you. I never wanted to hurt you. I loved you, I love you now, and I will love you forever and ever.” His hands slowly made their way into an embrace and he pulled me close to him. “The minute you decided to cherish this amorphous appearance of mine, that moment I realized how much you rally loved me. I am the luckiest man, or should I say ghost to have a woman love me even after I am dead.”
“Then why did..why did you leave me Ishaat? Couldn’t you…s.s.s..see how lost I was without you? Couldn’t you f.f..feel my agony?” I managed to say in between sobs. “Of course I did. Which is why I came today, to take you with me. I can’t be without you, whether I am man or a ghost. These eyes, those enchanting eye lashes, your beautifully shaped lips, that intoxicating voice, your filling love is all that I need, Mehul. Come with me and we can be together for all eternity.”
What happened after this is what truly pumped life into me. I left my earthly body behind to be with my Ishaat. But then, images of Ammi crying over my dead body flashed through my eyes… And so I left her a letter.
Please forgive this daughter for what she’s going to do now… Ammi I love Ishaat. And he has come to take me with him, into eternity where nothing, not even god can separate us. I must sound insane, Ammi. But this is the truth. Ishaat is not alive. But nevertheless his love for me, was and will always be. I am giving up my earthly body for love Ammi.. You aren’t my true mother. But I have always loved you like one. Please understand why I took this decision. Ammi, love is pure.. Love is a feeling that makes you feel secure, makes you feel like that one person is enough for you even if the rest of the world walks out on you... Love is worth it, provided its pure and involves the body and soul..! Love is worth every moment spent together if the feelings were true and from the heart... This is how I feel about Ishaat Ammi. I can’t live without him. And if giving up this lifetime is what it takes to be with him, then I am ready for it. Its only that one person who can give you what you truly are searching for. Love makes life - life! Love alone.! Its somewhat like happiness, where the journey is more beautiful than the destination! I want to be with Ishaat Ammi. But don’t worry. I am not leaving you. Just close your eyes and I’ll be there with you. I love you Ammi. Thanks and sorry for everything..