Mistakes Half Fixed.
It was an average day. Hot, humid and seasoned with an electric outage. I was fresh that day I felt courage resonating from my thoughts, I felt I could conquer all my problems that day, I just had to wait for the power to come back. Heh, it was an absurd expectation, I knew I was procrastinating, cowering; Lying to myself that things would be different this time, that I would find the courage to escape this prison, I was addicted to these lies. Realization awoke feelings, bitter feelings of self loathing and frustration. I was frustrated with myself, I lagged too much, I was wasting – Time, I was lost.
I wasn’t done with myself yet that I heard a knock or one should say ‘banging’ at the main gate. My mind calculated who it could have been and my Instinct was certain who it was. It was an infamous character from a play, an actor; a director and even a producer. It was a beggar in the dramatic play that was called ‘Begging door to door’. I didn’t have to attend to this character, my little sister Lina was already on it or was rather ordered to do so. She gave the beggar a few coins and closed the door as I imagined from my seat, and I returned to my thoughts :
“When will I get out of this phase? Why can’t I bring myself to do things I want? — Stop thinking about that! …Haris you’re pathetic, You’ll never change. You can’t change, you don’t have it in you. Just look at you how long have you been hoping to do something? how many times have you ran away from it? People are right. you are not worth it” —
And I heard another knock at the gate, this time it was soft but was accompanied by wailing and a sorrowful woe, this noise was an absolute pain to my ears and it got worse, the soft knocks had turned to gunshots. And again my innocent baby sister who looked so adorable and as reluctant went to attend the door.
By now I was frustrated and anxious, I was facing internal struggle. My body with a mind of its own started to walk from door to door, sweating and lost in the remembrance of cruel memories. Before I could bring myself to think again another bang at the main gate thrust into my ears, I was loosing my nerve and as before, again my poor baby sister took out some coins and gave them to the beggar but the banging continued after the gate was closed; With each bang my distress grew and my patience thinned. and I snapped.
My breath got heavy, my forehead wrinkled, my teeth gritting and my body on fire. I walked out to the garage glaring my sister and I asked her if she had not given the money. She nodded weakly, her eyes quivering with fear were unable to keep her gaze steady into mine. I walked out the main gate and I saw a little toddler slumping against the wall and next to him was a girl, was she his mother or sister I did not know, her youth confused me… she seemed younger than me. I was enraged, blind and ignorant to the innocence my eyes beheld and I had no sympathy, I barked at her :
“What do you want?! Didn’t you get the money?! What is your problem?!”
“Please give me some food, the child is hungry” She was looking at me with wide eyes. Her eyes were round and big — Her eyes were beautiful. There was no fear in them but hope and her tone was gentle.
“Food?! Don’t you know it’s Ramadan?! There is no food! Don’t you have the money?! Go and buy food!“, I retorted mercilessly, my mouth pouring out flames and my eyes – hostility.
Her eyes had started to reflect, a soft light was shining out of her eyes. Tears must have gathered up in her eyes but they fainted too quickly to be accounted, it was like they were never there. her stare had turned more innocent and a faint smile was present on her face and she repeated :
“But the child… he is hungry please give me some food–”
“From where do we give you food? There is none! There is no food! How were we supposed to know he or you needed food?!“, I interrupted.
And she stared me with the same quivering eyes that my sister had a few moments ago, I couldn’t ascertain the look in her eyes. It was a mix of disbelief and sorrow trailed by slight traces of innocence, she remained quiet but her lips were curved up, It was a smile… the one that people make to hide their pain. My glare grew weak, my rage was dissipating, the smoke was clearing and my sight was coming back to me.
I retreated back in my home, no one was there to tell me how wrong I had been. I walked a few steps going back to where I once was, only to be stopped by my thoughts; The same whispers that taunted me earlier started to whisper again :
“You told yourself you will never mistreat anyone again – What have you done Haris? …did you look at her? Did you see how beautiful and innocent she was? Did you not see how wrong were you?“
I still had not felt anything, only the sense of right and wrong was beeping in me and I came to realize how wrong my actions were but there were no feelings yet.
“What if that child was Lina? Did you see how the kid was limping? How much more are you going to ruin yourself? Did you forget all the loved ones you lost like this?“
They were growing over me – the feelings, I was guilty and I knew it. My mind kept playing games with me shifting people I deeply cared for with the child and the beggar. It wanted me to feel and it succeeded, I felt my heart beat an ache. Shame was upon me as I heard her knocking at the neighbor’s door. Something inside kept telling me there would be no redemption if I did not fix it right then, my mind kept telling me what needed to be done and it wanted me to apologize… I wanted to apologize but I was scared.
I couldn’t bring myself to go out and tell her to wait so that I could make something for her, I kept having flashes of making her something but I couldn’t bring myself to make them real. My mind kept taunting me, showed me how big my ego was and how much of a coward I was behind it. I picked myself together and I realized I was back at the gate, somehow my body had dragged me there unconsciously. I knew this was the only way, my heart was racing and I had to stop thinking, I stepped out and searched for her and as she took me in her notice, my eyes could not meet hers but I mustered the courage to meet her eyes and asked in a guilt-ridden tone :
“Listen… Come back, We’ll fix you something to eat“
That was all I could mutter.
I was ready for retribution… I expected it because I always faced it in such a moment but to my surprise – There was none. I had never seen someone so humbly accept and forget the way she did. She smiled and took hold of the child’s hand and walked back to my home. It was her smile that caught me off guard… it was a beautiful smile, A smile so healing and contagious it could make anyone smile with joy but I was too strong for this expression or maybe I did not know how to express it but inside I had been set free.
She sat down on the porch and her face was bright… The child was confused the whole time, He must have wondered if I was crazy. From a fire-breathing dragon to a coward and sissy chef– I did what needed to be done, I made what I could with what I found and soon after she left.
My mother asked me why did I have this change of heart? I tried to hide my feelings, my ego was still strong, maybe I did not want to appear vulnerable :
“A child was with her.”
But in the truth It was her, her innocent eyes and her beautiful smile. It was the guilt of the past and remembrance of those I had lost. The long list of my mistakes and my flaws. It was my late sympathy and her desperation.
I realized late I never apologized to her. And she was gone.
And I had told myself I’ll write about it one day,
Because I didn’t want to forget her smile and my mistake.