Dedicated to Faiza Khan…
This is the story of Grace, Will and his Widow.
She had been waiting for him. While she thought people do not always get a second chance, fate had other plans in mind for her. She thought to herself that she would do her best to convince him by all means necessary for it was only her who knew how essential it was for her to do so. She had become but a mere shadow in this world, an ignored, old piece of crockery that is placed on the mantelpiece and people just boast about and show it off to their guests but never use it themselves. She had hated this feeling throughout her life and had decided that she will make a change and shall bring about a new life for her. She aspired for a change, for a new life.
And so she had been waiting for the man who had proposed her yesterday. But his proposal was conditional and not absolute. He had told her to seek an audience with him in private on the eastern mountains so that he could interview her and then he was to decide about marrying her. She thought it fair to be like that given that she had been a widow for quite some time and he had his right to inquire about her from her to his satisfaction.
‘This is my only chance,’ she murmured to herself.
She was staring at this strange place, which in all its strangeness, seemed so familiar to her. It was dark and cold wind was blowing and whistling to her a romantic tune that she thought she had heard before. There was a touch of an unknown warmth in this cold and she could smell something that she had always known. What was it? she had no idea at all. Then she heard footsteps coming from the complete darkness in front of her. Then her man appeared from the dark, carrying a lit torch in his left hand. And there he was standing in front of her. Handsome and charming. His personality was such, she thought, that one is destined to fall in love with him as soon as one sets one’s eyes upon him. He was a good-looking tall man. And there was something special about his eyes. He had dark green piercing eyes, the gaze of which, had the power to make anyone fall for him. She finally broke the silence and her voice whispered in cold and empty highs of the dark mountains:
‘So… will you marry me?’ she said wiping her tears off her face.
‘Well I am not sure really’ he said, unmoved by her sudden emotional outburst. ‘Who are you?’ he asked.
‘I am a widow’ she replied. ‘My husband died years ago.’
‘Well I did not ask how are you, I asked who are you.’ he stared at her coldly.
‘So you will not marry me?’ she asked slowly, and sighed hopelessly.
‘Well I did not really say that. I do want to marry you but I need to know more about you.’ He said in a calm plain voice. ‘You should not expect me to marry you just like that. For I have seen many people who hide dark secrets in their smiles and charms. I have been hurt many times in this abode. And hence I am living a difficult life these days, a life of shame, a life in search of greatness,’ he continued to talk in his solemn voice that echoed against the mountains without paying much attention to her.
Then she started to tell him her little story. She said that she used to live in this land Pakistan and thought she would have a happy contended life here. As there was darkness around her, she thought if she was still in Pakistan. Anyway, she told him that she had had dreams of a life where there is no conflict and no confusion. When she used to see the beauty of this land, she was sure that she was made to live here. To grow in this land and see others grow along side her and have a noble position in life that everyone dreams of. She said to him that she got married at a tender age to the man of her dreams. He was a young man too who aspired to marry her as he loved her. He really adored her and used to say to her that he is not complete without her and that she means everything to him. The early days of marriage were the best when there was romance in the air and he made her forget everything. She only knew one thing, that he loved her and wanted to grow old with her. While she thought this was it and that she would continue to live like that, like a queen of her king but perhaps there was more that fate had in stall for her.
Little that she knew, she said to the charming green-eyed man in front of her, that her husband’s evil twin brother had other plans. He could not see her happy like that and started getting jealous of her. She was not sure however if he was jealous of her or his brother; her husband. Or both of them maybe, who knows. Whoever it was, he conspired against her and killed her husband ruthlessly. she continued by saying that her husband was killed because his brother did not like him being married to her and he always used to say that his brother made a mistake.
‘What was your husband’s name?’ he asked her.
‘His name was Will’ she said as she sobbed.
‘OK what happened then?’ he was completely engaged in her story by now.
She then told him that she saw a great future with Will and thought that she would grow old with him always and that they will continue to live in this beautiful romantic place called Pakistan. However, fate had other plans as her husband was totally under the influence of his brother and so he started to believe in him. He once tried to divorce her but she pleaded that he used to say that he will never be complete without her. He did refrain from divorcing her and they continued to live however true happiness was gone from her life because of his evil brother. And then one day, they both had an argument over her. She added that her husband kept persuading his brother that she is really a good person but his brother just would not listen to him. He insisted that he is his elder brother and that he must always listen to him rather than his wife. They quarreled and out of sheer anger his evil brother finally stabbed him in the back.
She broke in tears again.
‘I cannot say if I really want to marry you for you see I am crippled myself’ and he showed her his amputated right hand.
‘It does not matter to me if your right hand has been cut off.’ she said with a faint smile ‘I know that we will be able to start over again and live happily and I can assure you that after marrying me I will care for you so much that you won’t need your right hand. I shall be your right hand’ she seemed determined.
‘If you divorce me, I will move somewhere else’ she said.
‘Divorce you’ he inquired ‘but we are not married yet’
She smiled at him and said ‘you do not know darling but we got married the day I got widowed.’
‘But I do not understand it. You cannot force this upon me for I know we have never met before’ the green-eyed man looked a bit upset.
‘You do not understand’ she said calmly ‘you are my last hope and if you divorced me, I will go away from this land and never return back, ever.’ She added ‘My husband and I were happy together and in love but since the day he died, I have seen you in my dreams almost always. I know I am not delusional as you have those unmistakable green piercing eyes.’
‘OK you can say whatever you wish to. I find you rather attractive to a point that I can’t accept that you might not be telling the truth.’ He said that as if some force inside him made him utter these words. He said that also perhaps because he too was in search of greatness and wanted to abandon his life of shame.
‘I will be your right hand and together we shall turn this darkly place in to the land of light, which she has always deserved to be.’ She smiled at him. ‘If we unite, I assure you, that the spirit of my deceased husband may also come to life.’
‘You are scaring me’ he seemed completely confused.
‘Give me your word that you will not divorce me and send me to a land unknown for I belong here, I always have. I have been to the foreign lands and lived there after I became a widow but there is nothing left for me to do there. I was apparently happy there, but then, I got distressed in the end. There was this man called Mr Coin and everybody loved him there. Even I did at first but there was something strange about him. He was a soul collector and had the power of capturing and imprisoning souls in return for his love. I loved him too in the start, but then, he started to grow on me and I felt part of my soul being captured by him, slowly but consistently. Oh please accept what I am saying and never divorce me. I want to belong here.’
‘All right I will not divorce you’ he said ‘if I marry you, that is.’
‘Together we shall bring the light back. I know many here who need to see you who need to talk to you who need you to be with them. I shall introduce you to them when the time comes, trust me, Oh my love.’
‘But you have not even told me your name yet’ he inquired, ‘What is your name and what was the name of your husband and his evil brother. I need to know all that before I can decide on marrying you’
‘I told you before. His name was Will’ she said ‘Political Will.’
‘And my name is Political Wisdom. Together we were so complete. But his brother, Oh! That wretched man, he killed my husband’ she sighed ‘his name was Ego.’
Amazed and yet taken aback by her story, he smiled and replied ‘I will not divorce a widow’ saying this he turned away from her and his silhouette slowly dimmed in to total darkness and empty of the hollow where she thought she was stranded.
‘But what is your name’ she cried in hurry.
‘Grace’ came a faint sound from the darkness and the sound of his footsteps faded slowly in to complete silence; the silence like that of a grave.
I wanted to add commentary to this story in order to put some light on the backdrop but then, I thought, it will spoil it completely. I have presented here my political philosophy in Pakistan’s perspective through dramatised philosophical fiction and hence am letting the readers build upon it, think on it and decide for themselves. This perhaps also is what democracy demands of us anyways…!