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MDG Contest: Another Sky Falling Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Saad Javed, Pakistan May 22, 2005
Human Rights   Short Stories


4th Place Winner of the Millennium Development Goals writing Contest

She lay there, dying. In fact, she had been in the Intensive Care Unit for about an hour. Mutilated due to the burn scars, her face remained unrecognizable even to me, her sister. The over-all effect was an extra-ordinary fright, which oozed from her terrified eyes and crept through our hearts.

I peeped at Sarah, through the glass of the door. She turned in her bed to find a comfortable position and instantly regretted the attempt as she cried with pain. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she seemed to shrivel in agony. I vacillated between fantasy and reality. Disjointed pictures of the moments we had spent together flashed through my mind as my mother sobbed and my father sighed.

Sarah and I played and frolicked and skipped together. We were inseparable. Whenever I felt the sky falling, her motherly caress held it up for me. Both of us went through the same irritating lectures by mother about how submissive girls should be. She was ten years my senior and yet I shared every peck of my thoughts with her. She was more than a sister; she was my heart and my soul and so I loved her, and loved her for how she made tongue-tickling dishes even from scratch, for that was what we could afford.

The strong smell of tincture iodine brought me back to the reality. I hopelessly saw Sarah clenching her fists to muster more strength. I could swallow, as tears clogged my throat. How awful I felt when I compared her burn-scars with the brilliant shade of magenta I had witnessed when she was told that she was getting married. Her hearty laughter was suppressed somewhere beneath the numerous tubes protruding from her throat and mouth. A grotesque bald head had replaced her wavy chestnut hair.

Born to dirt-poor parents and being almost illiterate was her crime for which she was pushed into a burning hell. Her husband, twenty years her senior, and his vivacious family left no stone unturned to make sure that Sarah had to comply with a life that was thrust upon her, one shock after another. After enduring constant verbal and corporeal abuse from her in-laws for bearing them three daughters, Sarah was flamed to an agony-incarnate last night, when the ultra-sound reports declared that the fourth one would not be an exception.

Suddenly the door opened and a nurse came running. She handed us a list of life-saving medicines. Father watched us in dismay and we knew that there was nothing we could do now. We simply could not afford the antidotes that were supposed to cure Sarah. We could do nothing; we could not even wait, for one never waits and anticipates the death of one’s soul, one’s life.

The setting sun, from the hospital window gave a terrible yet spectacular feeling. The veil of darkness was spreading over the red remnants of a bright day. I sensed a hurricane ravaging through my veins. I had never felt so helpless and resurgent at the same time. I knew I had to fight. I knew I was not going to become another Sarah. I knew Sarah had helped me again and ironically she was one who needed the utmost help.
I heard heavy steps approaching behind the door. There was a sound of rattling chains and clanking of the iron-bed being moved. With a loud grating voice, the door swung open.

I stood there terrified and yet resolved not to shed tears. Sarah had shed them on my part. As her lifeless, body drifted across the corridor, I then knew what I had to do.

Sarah’s death meant the birth of a new “me”. I recognized that she had suffered because she was not armed with the strength of knowledge and enlightenment and poor girls in my part of the world never are. I decided to take up studies. I started sewing clothes for people and got myself admitted into an evening shift school without being a burden on my devastated parents.

I struggled not because I had to but because I wanted to. Five years have passed since then and today I’m a qualified Lady Health Visitor. I am an employee of the Government’s poverty alleviation program, being funded by the WHO.

My parents are dead but their wishes are not. Today, when I visit poor, miserable women, each one of them is a Sarah to me. I become obsessed with their well-being and this is not paranoia because women hold up half the sky and I cannot see another sky falling around me. I cannot see another pillar falling. I cannot see another Sarah burning!



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Writer Profile
Saad Javed

I write not because I can. I write because I have to. Good or bad, I have to keep the stream flowing. Words express a human's disposition, so better out than in!
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