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Monday Morning Short Story)

Discussion in 'English Story' started by Wajahat, Jul 26, 2017.

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  1. Wajahat
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    Wajahat VIP Member Staff Member
    • 28/33

    Monday Morning

    “I want to piss,” the boy said in their language. He held his mother’s hand as they walked, but his feet skipped to and fro.

    The mother scanned the area, but she could not find a place for her son; there were too many people beside the trees, talking, laughing. “Take the boy to the edge of the water so he can piss,” she said to her husband.

    The boy and his father hurried towards the lake. The father was glad to see that his son could find relief. They did not notice how people looked at them with their mouths turned down. Sour. The eyes narrowed to slits.

    The breeze blew and the ducks and swans floated past. The boy was afraid of them, but his need to evacuate was urgent. Steam rose from the stream that emerged from him as it fell into the water, and he marvelled at this. There was so much that was new to understand here. He had seen on the television at the hostel how water could become hard like glass, but the lake was not like that. The swans pushed their powerful legs and the ducks dipped their heads beneath the surface. The father held on to his son’s jacket so he would not fall in. There were bits of flotsam at the bank where the water rippled. The boy looked away, a little disgusted, and gazed into the clean centre of the lake.

    They came away from the water’s edge and joined the mother and the boy’s brother, and the boy from the hostel whose name was Emmanuel. The father looked at his wife and the children. He wondered at how beautiful everything was in this place with the whispering leaves and the green grass like a perfect carpet and the people so fine in their Sunday clothes. He thought, With God’s help it can surely happen. You are distraught, time passes and you are away from it. You can begin to reflect and observe. It was difficult now, to think of artillery and soldiers and flies feeding on abandoned corpses.The little one laughed and said, “My piss made fire in the water,” but the mother slapped his shoulder. “It’s enough,” she said.

    They joined the people on the path as they strolled through Regent’s Park. Only Emmanuel wanted to walk on the grass, but he did not dare because the father had forbidden it. He was a feeble man, Emmanuel thought, so timid in this new place, but his sons were different. Bolder. They had already grasped some of the new language.

    A breeze gathered up leaves and pushed the crowds along. A clump of clouds dragged across the sun. People pulled their clothes tight around themselves. The mother adjusted her scarf so there were no spaces for the wind to enter. She reached across with her good hand to secure her husband’s baseball cap. The area in the centre of his scalp was smooth as marble and he felt the cold easily. She shoved her mittened hand back into her coat pocket and watched the children as they drifted further away. After a moment she called, “Ernesto, come away from there,” to her eldest boy. They had wandered towards an area where people were playing a game with a ball and a piece of wood, and she did not want there to be any trouble. Not today, not on Sunday. She knew his friend was leading him to places he would not have ventured on his own and she feared there would be difficulties ahead. The youngest boy skipped between them: the mother and father, his brother, the brother’s best friend. He was her little one and she would hold on to him for as long as she was able.

    The father sighed and called out to his children. The cold was setting in again and their walk was too leisurely. They would have to return to the hostel before the sun disappeared. He called to Ernesto, “Come, it is time for us to go. Tell your brother.” It would take at least half an hour for them to walk back.

    Ernesto turned to Alfredo, the little one, who giggled as they played a game among themselves – Kill the Baron. The friend, Emmanuel, ran about them, laughing, until the father called again. “We are going back, you hear me? Ernesto, hold your brother! We go!”

    Emmanuel looked at him. He did not speak their language, but regardless, he thought the father was a stupid man – too fat, too quiet. The boy had lost his own father in his own country in his own village home. Now he could only see the faults in them, the other fathers, their weaknesses, what they did not understand. He had thought his father remarkable at one time, but with his own eyes, he had seen him cut down, destroyed. They were all foolish and clumsy, despite their arrogance. He would never become such a man himself.

    The children trailed behind the mother and father as they navigated paths that took them to the edge of the park. As they came to the road, Alfredo raced to walk beside his mother, and a passing car screeched to a halt.

    “Keep ’em off the road, for fuck’s sake!” the driver shouted.

    The mother held her son, and the father looked at the driver without expression. The boy had not run across the road, but the driver had made an assumption, and now he did not want to lose face.

    “Keep the buggers off the road!” he shouted again and shook his head when there was no response.

    The father glanced at the mother who only shrugged and held her boy. Emmanuel turned to the driver and waved an apology on behalf of the father, grinning to indicate he understood. But he did not know the appropriate words, and the driver failed to notice or did not care for the gesture. He sped away, complaining bitterly to his passenger. There were people on the pavement who had seen the incident, who now stood watching. The mother and father did not understand the signs and gestures the people used. They did not feel the indignation. They knew only that they were scrutinized and they were sometimes puzzled by this, but they were not overwhelmed.

    They trudged along the main road near the building where the books lived. The huge railway stations teemed with people. In the mornings sometimes, the father walked in the vicinity of the stations. At night the area was forsaken, but during the day, workers emerged in their thousands. Often he looked at them and it seemed impossible that he could ever be a part of this. The people moved as if they were all one river, and they flowed and they did not stop.

    “Here is the one!” Alfredo squealed to Emmanuel when they came to the glass hotel. “I will live here!”

    “You’re crazy,” Emmanuel said to the boy. But he could not fail to notice the guests in the lobby, the people sipping tea in the café, the lights warm, the atmosphere congenial.

    The sign at the building read Hotel Excelsior, but this was not a hotel. The orange carpet was threadbare, the linen was stained with the memory of previous guests, the rooms sang with the clamour of too many people. When they had arrived, the mother knew it was not a place to become used to. They had their room, the four of them, and it was enough: the bed, the two narrow cots. There was warmth even though the smell of the damp walls never left them. They could not block out the chatter and groans of other occupants. In the mornings the boys feasted on hot breakfasts in the basement dining room where there was a strange hum of silence as people ate. They were gathering strength after years of turmoil in other places. This was the best part of the day.As they approached the hostel the sky was already turning even though it was still afternoon. Men and women walked up and down the road, but they did not have a destination. They glanced at the family with eyes like angry wounds. A woman knelt on the pavement with her head upturned, swaying, and when the family passed, Alfredo could see that she was dazed. The mother cupped her hand against his face so he could no longer look at her. Another man guided a woman in a miniskirt hurriedly by the elbow. He was shouting at her. He crossed the road so he would not have to meet the family and then re-crossed it after they had passed. Every day they saw these people, the lost ones, who seemed to hurt for the things they were looking for but could not find. The mother wondered sometimes, Have they never been young like my boys? Where does innocence flee? She wanted to be away from this place, away from the Excelsior. She wanted her family’s new life to begin.

    The father had begun to work. He could not wait for any bureaucratic decision when there were people who relied on him for food and shelter, for simple things: his mother, his sister and her family, his wife’s people. It had begun easily enough. A man at the hostel had told him there was work on a construction site in the south of the city. They did not ask for your papers there, he said. It was a way to help yourself, and if it ended, well, there were other places to work. It was important not to be defeated, he warned, even though you were disregarding the rules. The man had been an architect in his own country, but now he did the slightest thing in order to help himself. He was ebullient, and when the father looked at him and listened, he was filled with hope.

    Four of them journeyed from the Excelsior to the building site in the south. Every day they took their breakfast early and joined the people who became a river on their way to work. The job was not complex, but one could easily become disheartened by the cold and the routine. The father dreamed of the day when he could return to his own occupation, to the kitchen where he handled meat and vegetables and the spices he loved so much. He had not touched any ingredients for many months now and sometimes he was afraid he would forget what he had learned. But already it was ingrained in him and he could not lose it, this knowledge, but he did not realise it yet.

    He moved building materials from one place to another, and when they needed a group of men to complete a task, he became essential. But he did not know the English words. Most of the others did, but there was no one from his country here. Sometimes they would slowly explain to him the more difficult tasks, and every day, it seemed, the work became more intricate. The father moved his head so they would think he had understood, but he did not understand one word. He began to sense that words were not necessary; he could learn by observation and then repeat what he saw. In his own country he had not been an expressive man. Even as a child he had only used words when absolutely necessary. People often thought he was mute or he was from another country or his mind was dull. But all of that did not matter; he had learned to cook and he had discovered the love of a woman who did not need him to be someone he was not.

    The woman touched the man at the meat of his shoulder and when he felt her, his body relaxed. It was not like coming home when they returned to the Excelsior; the strangeness of the place and the noise of the people there discomfited them. A woman was crying behind the door of the room opposite theirs and they wondered, Has she received some terrible news? Will she be returning to the place she has run away from? The hostel was a sanctuary, but it was also a place of sadness for many, and often it was only the children who gave it life.

    “Tomorrow,” Emmanuel said to Ernesto, and he touched him lightly on the back and then ran to another floor of the building where he and his mother lived. He did not acknowledge the father and the mother. Alfredo turned so he could say goodbye to his brother’s friend, but the boy was already gone. He could not understand how Emmanuel had spent the day with them and could then disappear without a word to him. He too wanted a friend, like the children he had played with in his own country.

    “Why does he go so fast?” he asked. He felt the smart of Emmanuel’s abruptness in his chest.

    “He has his own mother,” the woman replied. “Maybe he feels bad for leaving her all day.”

    Alfredo thought about this, about how he would feel if he had left his mother alone in the hostel, and he understood his mother’s words. He said, “We will… When… When will we go to the glass hotel?” The words emerged so quickly from him in his agitation they fell over one another.

    “We will go one day,” the father said as they entered the room. “You will see.” It was his secret plan to take his family to the hotel one weekend, when a person could eat a two-course meal at a special rate. He would work on the construction site until he was able to pay for the things they needed, for the money he would send back home. Then they would all spend the day at the glass hotel. Perhaps there would be a swimming pool for his sons. He touched the boy on his head so he would not feel bad about the place they were in, the unfriendly Emmanuel, the people they had left behind.

    At night the father dreamed he was in his old kitchen, with the heat and flies and the cries of chickens outside. The mother flew to the beach on their coast and noticed how the moonlight glinted off the waves. Ernesto dreamed of his school friends before they had been forced to scatter, before the fighting had begun. Only Alfredo remained in the new country in his sleep; he was in the glass hotel, in his own room.
    *The night moved on and then other dreams began, the ones of violence, of rebels and rape and cutlasses arcing through the air. The father began to shudder in his sleep, and then his wife woke. When she realised it was happening again, she reached out and petted him with her club, her smooth paw. She did not know she was doing so; it was instinctive. Ordinarily she concealed the damaged limb. They had severed her hand in the conflict, but she could still feel the life of her fingers as she comforted her man. In the new country, they had offered her a place to go, for the trauma, but she did not want that; she had her boys, her quiet husband. There was a way to function in the world when the world was devastating, everyone careless of each other and of themselves. She knew that now. She had been forced to learn. In a moment her husband was still again and she lay back with her eyes closed, but she did not sleep.

    It was a simple thing, a misunderstanding, that caused the confusion the next day. The father travelled to the south to the construction site. By the end of the week he was certain he would have earned enough to send several packages home. But mid-morning the inspectors arrived.

    A foreman took him aside. “You have the correct papers?” he asked.

    The father looked at him and nodded. He did not understand what was happening. He continued to work as the inspectors spread out. He could not see the other men from the hostel, but he would look for them soon so they could take their lunch break. It was colder today, but he had been working so hard he had been forced to remove his sweater.

    They came up the scaffolding, two men with their briefcases and the foreman beside them. From the corner of his eye the father could see the men from the hostel across the road. They were waving to him frantically. The inspectors approached another man and talked quietly with him. They stood where the ladder was situated. The father could not see another way down. He thought, I am in a place I do not understand. The ground is vanishing beneath me. He pictured the boy, his youngest, and he pushed away the fear. He ran to the edge of the platform and grasped the metal pole. He did not look down in case he faltered. He held the pole and allowed gravity to carry him, not knowing how it would end. His hands were cut and then his torso rubbed hard against the brackets. He remembered his sweater lying on the platform. He did not have the strength to manage a smooth descent and his shirt and trousers were torn, but he did not notice these things. His mind was on his folly. If he were caught he would jeopardise everything for his family and he did not know if he could live with himself after that.

    He hobbled across the road where the others were waiting for him. He looked behind once to see if he was being followed, but no one was there.

    “That was close,” one of the men called and clapped him on the shoulder. They all laughed, but he did not laugh with them. He only smiled. His hands and arms were throbbing and the blood had soiled his clothes.

    When the mother saw him, she became very quiet. No one spoke. They only fussed around the wounds and the blood and the torn clothing. Their fear was like a fist of bread they could not swallow. The youngest boy began to cry. His brother, Ernesto, was frightened, but excited too. He went and told his friend what had happened. It was like an adventure for him; the blood, the daring escape.

    Emmanuel smirked; it only confirmed his thoughts. He said, “He is stupid, your father.” He could not help himself. It was the way he was now. Angry. He did not know that he blamed his own father for dying, that it was a wound inside himself that would fail to heal.

    Ernesto looked at him, disbelieving, and then he walked away. It was too much, the injured father, the distraught brother, the hurtful friend. Too many things were happening at once and he could make no sense of it. When he returned to the room, his father was resting on his brother’s cot. He saw him there, a man who was not slender, a man who hardly spoke. He began to wonder about Emmanuel’s words. Was there any truth in them? A seed had been planted now.

    Alfredo sat beside his father looking from the carpet to his mother, back to the carpet again. The mother’s silence disturbed them all. She tidied the room and soaked the soiled clothes in the bath and seemed not to care about what had happened. Even the father eyed her cautiously, but he did not speak.

    “God will help us,” the father whispered, so that only the youngest heard.

    The boy remained silent. At length he asked, “Where is God, Papa?”

    The father sighed and looked at his son. “He is in the room. He is here with us. All around.” He lifted his arms and waved his fat fingers to illustrate.

    The boy looked around the room, but he did not understand. Ernesto followed his gaze, but he did not know what they were looking at.

    “You are a chef, you are not a labourer!” the mother shouted. “You cannot cook with your hands torn like this! Do you understand?” She had gone from silence to blind rage in an instant. She shook her fist, but held the arm where her hand had been severed tight against her stomach. She did not care if other people heard through the thin walls. She was tired of holding everything in. “How can we make a new life if you cannot work because you are injured? Did you think what would happen if they caught you with no papers, what would happen to us, the boys? We cannot go back to that place where they are killing us! Soon they will allow us to stay and you can do whatever job you like. But still you cannot wait! You are ready to risk everything.”

    The boys looked from their wounded father to their mother as she stood over him. They took in the damp walls, the orange carpet with the kink by the bathroom door, the window that overlooked the street where the girls walked at night and people roared sometimes in their misery.
    *“I am going to see Emmanuel,” Alfredo said after no one had spoken in minutes. He closed the door quietly and ran along the corridor and down the stairs. He did not stop running when he came to the street or to the busy road where the cars and buses clamoured. A tall man, wrapped in a soiled duvet, strode along the street peering into rubbish bins. Shrieking. Alfredo continued to run. He mingled with people as they waited for permission to cross the road. A woman moved away from him as if he were a street urchin. When he reached the other side he began to run again. He did not look behind for fear of seeing his father or his mother or anyone from the hostel. He ran and ran until he arrived at the hotel and when he was through its glass doors he stood still and breathed deeply.

    He said he had been going to see Emmanuel, but ten minutes later, the friend knocked at the door looking for Ernesto. All the anger in the room vanished. They searched the lounge where the television was, and the breakfast room, and the reception, but they could not find him. No one had seen him disappear. The mother was shaking now and the other son was mute with anxiety.

    “We must look outside. Alfredo!” the father called. “He cannot go far from here. Where can he go? Alfredo!” He was bellowing now. He was not aware of the strength of his own voice. Ernesto looked at him, his eyes wide with trepidation.

    The man at the reception desk said the staff would scour the hostel to ensure Alfredo was not hiding anywhere. “Where could a little boy go?” he asked.

    Emmanuel thought suddenly he knew where he was. He said in English, “Maybe he goes to the hotel,” and he pointed.

    They did not know the boy was already in the elevator of the glass hotel, rising above the street, looking out at the city they had recently arrived in. There seemed to be nothing between him and the world outside except a thin sheet of glass. When he peered down at the retreating traffic he found he was not afraid. He came out on the top floor and approached the long corridor. He began to try the handles of all the rooms he passed. He was looking for his own room, but he knew he needed a key. He did not know whom to ask. A man opened a door he had tried and squinted at him and closed it quickly. Otherwise it was quiet. He saw no people. He was anxious now and tired and he did not know what to do.

    A woman opened a door near the end of the corridor and a cloud of light fell across his path. She did not notice him. She removed some objects from a trolley and then re-entered the room. He came to the door and stood for a moment, waiting for her, but he was very tired now. He sat on the carpet in the corridor, trying to remain alert, but his head hung down.

    “Who are you?” the woman said to him.

    He jerked his head up. He was not sure whether he had fallen asleep, whether time had passed – had she simply come out as soon as he had sat down? He looked at her, but he could not understand all the words she spoke.

    “Are you lost?” she asked. “Are you looking for someone?” She did not seem angry, but he did not know how to make her understand.

    He said, “The room,” with all the English he could muster, but he knew it was not enough.

    The woman gazed at him and spoke some words in her own language and he was amazed he could understand her completely. He had thought his family were the only ones in this new place.

    “Come,” she said. She pushed open the door of the room she had been cleaning and showed him in: the wide bed so perfectly made, the large face of the television set, the gleaming marble in the bathroom. He walked to the window and knelt on a chair and looked out at the vast city. He could not hear the sounds of traffic far below, he could not see the river of people entering the railway stations, he could not see the lost ones shuffling to and fro on the street. He saw only rooftops and sunlight and all the space in the world between the earth and the sky that seemed like emptiness, that was untouched and beautiful. He turned and climbed on to the bed. He did not worry about the woman or his mother and father or when he should return to the hostel. He was too tired for any of that. The boy slept. Again, he did not have bad dreams. He did not even dream of his own country. He saw the green grass in the park that Sunday afternoon, his mother’s five fingers searching for his face, his father and brother, even the angry friend, Emmanuel, sitting on the bed in the hotel room, looking for the face of God.
     
    IQBAL HASSAN likes this.
  2. Admin
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    Admin Legend Staff Member
    • 63/65

    bhi English use na karin to meharbani ho gi
     
    PakArt likes this.
  3. PakArt
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    PakArt May Allah bless all Martyre of Pakistan
    • 83/98

    سپر ایڈمن صاحب کوئی بات نہی ہے۔انگلش میں بھی تحاریر اشتراک ہونی چاہئے۔تاکہ فورم پر دیگر غیر قومی اور دوسری زبانوں کو بھی کچھ پڑھنے کو ملے۔انگلش کیلئے ایک الگ سے تھریڈ ہے۔اس سٹوری کو وہاں ریموو کر دیتا ہوں۔شکریہ
    English literature-Poetry English Fun & Quiz
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  4. Wajahat
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    Wajahat VIP Member Staff Member
    • 28/33

  5. PakArt
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    PakArt May Allah bless all Martyre of Pakistan
    • 83/98

    Most welcome
     
  6. IQBAL HASSAN
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    IQBAL HASSAN Designer
    • 83/98

    وجاہت بھائی سٹوری تو اچھی ہے
    اصل میں انگلش ہماری کمزوری ہے
    جس کی وجہ سے سمجھنے میں دشواری ہوتی ہے
    ویسے اپ کا بہت شکریہ
     
  7. IronMan
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    IronMan My Name is Zain Khan from Islambad Staff Member
    • 28/33

    [​IMG]
    :AA3:
    :baph
    :BS:
    :Thumb up::Nicework::Thumb up:
    :Art sahring::Computer::Art sahring:
    آپکی مزید اچھی اچھی پوسٹ کا انتظارہے گا۔شکریہ
     

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