Mother and Wolf

Translated by Rashid Khattak

I opened my eyes. The first voice I heard was my own cries. Then voices congratulating each other made a noise. The abundance of light forced me to close my eyes again. The noise of women subsided. Suddenly huge blasts, taking place one after another, frightened me.

The angel, who had come with me from the other world, placed his hand on my head. His hand was soft like the words of a kind mother. “Don’t worry. These are jubilant gunshots. Your father, grandfather and uncles are happy on your birth,” he told me.

“Why are they firing guns if they are happy,” I asked.

“You have been born in a nation that can’t help without guns. They include gun even in their merrymaking, but the gun always brings grief for them.”

I was astonished. “Why?”

The angel sighed and then replied. “Your nation has enmity. Here everyone has an enemy. They have enmity with other nations. They have disputes with their cousins. They quarrel with their brothers if they can’t find an enemy. See, your uncles are celebrating your birth with happiness, but they will quarrel with you on the inherited property when you grow up.”

I wanted to ask many questions. “Don’t bother yourself. Take a rest. You will understand everything gradually when you grow up,” the angel said.

The other day a lot of people gathered at our house. They were dancing to drumbeats, but my angel didn’t seem happy. He looked at me for few moments as if he felt sorry for me. “I am going,” he said.

“Where,” I asked.

“I am returning to the other world. It is the smell of blood here. They have butchered sheep in the backyard. Today your father has invited all villagers to a feast,” he said.

“But you had told me that you would live with me to protect me from dangers,” I asked him.

“Yes, I had told you, but I can’t live at a place where blood is shed. I hate blood. I can’t see bloodshed. But you will see a lot of bloodshed,” he said.

The angle kissed my face and flew towards the window.

“For whom are you leaving me?” I shouted after him.

“I am leaving you for your mother. Mothers are also angels. But do remember that there are some mothers who behave like wolves,” he said.

The angle left, and I forgot him completely after few days.
Years passed. I became a young man. We had a property dispute with our uncles for the last six months. They had laid claim to our land property. White-bearded elders would come on every Friday to hold a meeting for resolving the dispute between us. We would slaughter a sheep every Friday for the negotiators. We would also give them money. They suggested different ways for settling the dispute, but none of those solutions was acceptable to my uncle. My father had gone to Gulf States. I was alone while my uncle had five sons.

One day my aunt, the wife of my uncle, said something to my mother. “This bitch is proud of her five sons. She taunted me that she had five sons while I had only one,” my mother told me with tearful eyes when she returned to home.

“So what, let her say anything she wants,” I said.

The weeping of my mother intensified. “God has blessed me with a lone son and he is also a coward,” she said.

I was listening to her attentively.

“Your father would have deprived this bitch of her five sons if he was here. You are here, but you have no courage,” she added.

I lost my temper. “How does the question of courage arise here,” I asked her.

“How not? When will you show courage if you can’t show it for the sake of your mother,” she replied.

“Okay, tell me what I should do?” I got up.

“Take the gun if you have courage, and kill all of her sons to cool down my anger,” she said, staring at me with her red eyes.

I did what she said. All of them were making ablution on the bank of the canal when I reached there, having my bolt action rifle with me. I gunned down all of them and mounted my horse to flee. I reached the house of my maternal uncle at midnight. The next morning I was in Waziristan. After few days my mother also came to Waziristan along with my maternal uncle. She held me tight in her arms and kissed my forehead as soon as she saw me. “Well done my son,” she said.

Then the country underwent a revolution. My other countrymen also migrated to Waziristan. They waged jihad, the holy war.

“Motherland is like a mother. You have restored my honor but now you should protect the honor of the motherland,” my mother told me.

I killed numerous people. Some of them were shot dead by me while some others were slaughtered. I perished some others in bomb blasts. I spared neither a prisoner nor a surrendered combatant.

It was the tenth year of the jihad when I was killed. I saw my angel during my funeral prayers. I recognized him. He was the same angel, but his face had developed wrinkles and he seemed upset. His hair had also become grey like that of Zulekha, who spent her youth waiting for Yusuf. His eyes were no more carrying the kind look, which I had seen in my childhood.

“How nice it is. For my entire life I was thinking that I had lost some thing but I couldn’t ascertain as to what thing it was. Now as I saw you, I realized that I had lost you,” I smiled.

The angel was looking at me silently with icy eyes as a blind man looks at the direction of a voice without saying anything.

I hoped that the angel would take care of me as he was passionate to me in the other world. But he neither placed his hand on my head nor smiled.

My funeral prayers were offered, and I was buried in the grave. The angel came to the pitch darkness of the grave with a lamp in his hand. The angel was accompanied by a woman, made of earth. The face and forehead of the earthen woman were also wrinkled like that of the angel.

“Who is she,” I asked the angel.

“She is motherland,” he replied.

I thought that she would shower me with affections as I had killed a lot of people for her. Even I had sacrificed my life for her. I hoped that I would see the fruits of my sacrifices.

The motherland was also grieved and upset like the angel. She was neither talking nor smiling.

I lost my patience. “Mother! Why are you unhappy? Look at me, I have shed a lot of blood for you. You know how many people I have killed for you? Are you still unhappy,” I asked her.

Two tears rolled down from the eyes of motherland but disappeared in the wrinkles of her face as if raindrops disappear in the sandy land, which has not seen a downpour for years.

“Mother, why are you so dry? I have shed a lot of blood for you,” I said again.

“My son, I am a mother, not a wolf,” said the earthen mother in a calm voice, opening her mouth slowly.