Connect with us


The Price of a Sigh



Photo by Markus Spiske
Markus Spiske

She opened her eyes before the break of dawn as it was her sheer routine from the day of her wedding. She was just fifteen when a man in his late forties sent his marriage proposal to her mother, ironically she didn’t even remember her father who passed away long before she could even talk.

Now, she was married for 25 years and the terrors of existence had long encompassed her life in every both sane & illogical ways. She lost 11 nascent babies repeatedly, as her husband used to put, “You are damned from the heavens.” The days after the marriage was the butterfly phenomenon for the hell of a storm to come.

Her husband lost his job as a gatekeeper for a landlord, his knees were making him unfit and in deep pain where he had to be on regular medication which has also become a catalyst to make him dizzy and intoxicated all the time. It was like a tradition for her to have a child and lose him/her in just a couple of days. Had her husband been just 5 more years younger than his actual age, his family would have managed to make another teenage girl’s life miserable.

Fortunately, after 25 long years of this ominous and tedious tradition, the heavens took mercy on her despair, she gave birth to a healthy Babyboy. This was her first sigh in 25 years, the most anticipated sigh after paying a staggering price of humiliation, sleepless nights, void mornings, experiencing exponentially the pain of giving birth & waiting for her progeny to die – she could only watch helplessly – and the Sisyphus’stone like days of labor.

Rabab jumped out of her bed, pushed herself up despite stone-heavy eyelids, she wanted to sleep but the baby started to cry out-load. She always said to herself – to give herself an excuse to wake up – “One day, I will sleep for eternity, but not now.” Luckily, the baby again went to sleep after some lullabies and cradling. She had neglected her body pleading to rest but she pushed it beyond its limits, as that was the only option.

Her husband was snoring loudly as he didn’t even give a *** about this phenomenon called life & its angsts. She prepared herself to offer the morning prayers, when she thought about God, his blessings, and his trials, Rabab always asked Him, “Why! …. why me God!” and there, as usual, was nothing could she hear back. When she was a child, her mother used to tell her, “God is always there to help; he is nearer than the heart, should any pain come to you, just ask Him to pitch in.”

She called Him over and over again to weigh in, not that she always complained about the pain, there was no other life she could compare to, where there were torrents of milk and honey. Rabab was just anxious about the life of her boy who was her everything to infinity and beyond. On Janamaz, her life was sailing, wandering and pinching her heart deep, anguish there was and all else was inexplicably abysmal void. Her tears were long to become dry, the sigh after that & sharing the existential suffering with someone beloved has long been squeezed and twisted in her throat.

Rabab’s daily drill as the sole breadwinner for the family was already, of course, a hell of a task, ironically some months ago her mother, a widow in her late 60s, was clinically pronounced paralyzed. She could not even straighten her arm on her own. Thus, Rabab had to be, simultaneously, a father to make a living, a mother to take care of her 2-month-old, and an obedient daughter to look after her mother.

She, after preparing breakfast and feeding a cow, went to a nearby school to clean the classes before the students’ arrival. After that, she gets to go and forth, to home and school to check on & feed her baby and husband too. Then at 2, she has to go to another school to do the same. In the evening she gets back home to prepare the next meal for her family. And then, the price to exist never fades away, Rabab had to go to her mother’s to feed and clean her.

She was fortunate enough to see her boy living; who were her only wish, dream, and hope…. obviously, hope is a dangerous thing that only prolongs the suffering. One day, out of nowhere her mother died, the irony, not the biggest perhaps, was that she didn’t even have any relatives or resources for her burial. The existence kept on demanding from her everything possible, not that only life was a pain but the society and its conventions.

The price of a single sigh kept on staggering at every crossroad. Rabab had to do all the things unwaveringly, she had not to be a person, a human, but a heartless and painless abstract living thing to attach all the strings of her life. After her mother, she had one task out of her daily basket, but her body exacerbated day by day, both the love of her mother, who was always there to hear her anguish and suffering, was not there to do that anymore and her worsening health, were pushing her to collapse, nevertheless, she waged the relentless unending war with her body.

That was the hottest day of the summer, Rabab was lost somewhere busy watering her vegetables. There was no shadow, alone under the scorching ruthless sun. She started to hallucinate…she dreamt herself in a desert desperate for a drop of water. She was wandering aimlessly, with every second the thirst is more severe, she had to find water, nothingness was all there and the ocean of sand.

She started to run, with that, her heartbeats freakishly, she is now on the top of a hill of sand, there is nothing in the millions of miles, suddenly the sand engulfs her… she fades away, her body is contracting and squeezing itself, she tried to find out what is happening but she couldn’t, she lost her consciousness and left alone under the firing sun, no one was around… She is going deep into the bottomless abyss, the breath, the closest friend forsakes her and she can not breathe……  she wants to have that last desperate sigh.

Popular in the Community
Load more...

Irfan Kazmi studies politics and sociology at Forman Christian College Lahore. Eternally fascinated about the national question of Gilgit-Baltistan, writing has been his way of thinking and resistance. He aspires to cover themes like poverty, patriarchy, absurdism, and politics.


Like us on Facebook