A past dream !
I was just laying in the rubble of discarded stuff when he picked me up. I was covered in dirt and mist of 1970 and God knows how many decades and nations rubbed their history over me.
He cleaned me by rubbing me on his chest and I nearly squinted my eyes, under sun rays, peeping through the tattered cloth which hardly covered the shop from scorching sun heat. It is me, in my wedding gown, face covered behind a white veil I received in my trousseau. It was the year 1930 when MJ and I got married. I was 16 years old and MJ was a year older than me.
“Saleh, come out now”
I heard a woman calling out to the boy whose hands dropped me in a plastic bag and now we are moving; I more than him. Saleh is a 13-year-old boy, taking all the abandoned and antique things from a thrip shop and store in his house where everyone shows disgust for him being so odd one out of all the siblings.
My name was Marielle when I was alive and now I am “a useless photo in a faded frame” as Saleh’s family pointed me out to him and later Saleh dabbed my face with a wet cloth and settled me against the spine of his books.
Wow, what a relief to care like this Marielle, you feel so alive which you never felt after you were dead. “Wow, so beautiful and …. ” Saleh whispered to himself before bringing Marielle to his world. All the old and abandoned things fascinated him. Like old people, he saw in the parks who were gazing out with empty eyes and longing heart for their childhood homes.
How old people think of life without any rewind button. He always wondered if they feel any regret when the time has passed, youth sags, and all the memories are just in their heart but unable to live or touch them with their wrinkled hands.
And he was thankful to be born in the 21st century where he has a camera to save portraits and voice recorders. He wanted to challenge time and youth and it’s all bounties which he will never want to miss when he will be 70 or 80-year-old. He would have a rewind button, photos to touch and voice of everyone to soothe his ears with, wherever he will feel like going back to his past.
Marielle saw Saleh sitting along his bookshelf, reading and sometimes sighing with relief and most of the time weeping silently after closing a book. ‘How sad this boy wants to be while everyone around him is happy and living in the present. Does he understand the pain of others when he read stories? Mostly of war victims? Should I also tell him my story? Will he be scared and throw me out like they did 3 decades before, and occupied my home?
It was midnight, Saleh was sitting in a Veranda, welcoming any cool breeze which was rare in this summer. A chilled water bottle was in his hand to cope with the hot weather and a book was in the hand to keep his life going.
After finishing the book which took him 10 hours, he came back to his room, placed the book upside down, and pressed on it harder than needed. Maybe he wanted to squeeze the characters out of it, so he continued their story or maybe he was making sure that it was just a story of past and nothing else.
“Loss is grave lesson life teaches us. Without us willing to enroll for it”, I heard my voice and terror lingers in the echo of my voice, but it was done already.
Saleh stiffened where he stood not sure if he heard something and wanted to acknowledge it.
“Don’t be so sad Saleh. It’s life and we are the survivors fighting to live just one more day.” This time I said with more weight in my voice. // A past dream
Now, Saleh turned his back to the books and that portrait he brought which was looking livelier than ever before. Saleh knew it was not a midnight dream but a rare possibility after all he believed in it. This is what he likes in his stories; magic, strangers becoming friends and family.
He took the frame; Marielle inside it, and said,
‘I am not surprised to see you talking, it was what I always wanted from you.’
And i was taken aback but was felt content to be somewhere I belong.
‘I am Marielle, also a survivor and later a victim of what you read in your stories. The world has never changed since I died. Power is still what states want to acquire and freedom is cherished more than happiness”
'And I want none but the remembrance.
To be always present in someone's memory.
So, I kept you, feeling that you wanted same.
Or maybe you chose me to keep you."
“Saleh, it’s not an achievement to be alive in memories unless you are remembered for your
goodness. People remember Hitler still, but you know it was for what he did, burning thousands of Jews in a furnace. Even your Islam never encouraged this practice.”
“I don’t know for what reason people want to remember me. Neither have I had hope with people who live with me.” Saleh replied, with heaviness in voice and his body weighs more on the bed where he fell asleep placing the frame over his chest hoping to wake up in the morning and will make sure it was not just his any same old dream of past.
Writer: Fariha Narjis
// A past dream