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Kinship Knows No Boundaries - contd

by Suneet Paul
(Faridabad, India)

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When he spotted his home in the distant, he energetically ran in the empty lane, and banged the door chain with full strength on the wooden door. It produced a loud clang. He waited anxiously. There was no response. Was everybody sleeping? He looked at his watch. The time was three-thirty in the afternoon. Ammi should be getting ready to milk the cow. He stretched his hand to knock again. And again, there was no response. He then pushed the door hard, and to his surprise, found it open.

The courtyard was as he had left it with the old mango tree in the center. A cow- the same cow? No, it was Janaki’s calf, grown up now. Lakhi! He called out to her. Lakhi looked at him with wide sleepy eyes. “Ammi!”- Amir called out to his mother. “Where are you, Ammi? - Asghar!”

Lakhi had fixed her gaze at him. He threw the suitcase on the cow-dung matted floor and rushed inside.

Ammi was lying on the bed, facing the wall. She occupied only a small section of the bed.
“Ammi!” He drew closer to her and spoke to attract his mother’s attention, his voice quivering. “Ammi, it’s me. Ammi-Ammi?”

Ammi slowly turned around mumbling, “Who is it? Asghar?” She was silent for a little while and stared at him. Her hand went to the side of the bed to pick up the spectacles. Amir just stood there, watching her. Life gradually poured into her. “Allah be praised, it’s Amir. Oh, my child!” Her arms opened up for him.

Amir jumped and hugged her. “Ammi!” She said nothing but clutched him harder. “I can’t tell you, Ammi, how happy I am to be back,” Amir went on lovingly.

His mother was silent. A haunted look dwelt on her face. She was trying to stop her tears from rolling down. He took her face in his hands and said protectively, “I am back, Ammi. Aren’t you happy? And where is Asghar?” He glanced towards the adjoining room.

It was unbearable for her now. She gave out a long cry of pain. “Amir, we are ruined, my boy! - ruined!”
Amir was fearfully puzzled, “What has happened, Ammi?”
Ammi was not yet herself. She could hardly speak, “Asghar - Asghar-”
Amir felt flustered. He stood up, “Tell me, Ammi, what about Asghar?”
“Oh Amir, God be with him. Asghar is no longer with us.”
“Why? Has he left the village?”
Ammi’s voice was a sobbing whisper, “No, my child. Allah looks after him now. He’s left this world.” She raised her arms and said a silent prayer.
“You mean- you mean, he’s dead?” Amir stood paralyzed.

Ammi continued, “It all happened four days ago. There was fight in the village. It turned into a communal riot.” She slowly released her breath, “Asghar was at the chowk when it started. He got caught in the stone throwing – and, and got hit hard by one. He was immediately on the ground, and didn’t get up after that.” She became dead silent.

Amir’s voice was slow and heavy, “Allah! But why my brother out of all the people?”
The shock slowly seeped into him and he became part of the surrounding gloom.

Ammi gradually regained her voice. “And do you

know what his last words
were?” -- Forgive them, Allah! He asked forgiveness for his killers, Amir.”

Amir hid his face in the lap of his mother and wept like a child.

Ammi continued pensively, “Things are calm now but tense. I had sent you a message immediately.”

Gathering himself, he clung to her, “I didn’t receive it. My trip here was a last-minute decision. I didn’t inform you as I wanted to surprise you.” He cleared his throat, and spoke gravely, “So that explains why there is nobody on the streets.”

Just then, there was a furor in the lane. He turned his stare towards the door.

Ammi was terrified. “Had they come to know of Amir’s return?” She caught him in a tight hug.
The shouting in the lane increased. Amir pulled away from his mother and ran to the door, with her calling out, “Don’t! Don’t open the door! They won’t spare you!”

He half opened the door. There was a crowd of thirty to forty people passing. Amir caught a glimpse of Kartara, his dear old darling Kartara. Their eyes met and Kartara spontaneously raised his hand in greeting.

Amir had been spotted by someone else also in the meanwhile. The man cried out amidst the noise, “Catch hold of him. Pull him down.”

Kartara, immediately sensing the gravity of the situation, without a thought rushed forward and jumped in-between Amir and the crowd, shouting, “No, no, don’t do it!”

The man nearest to Amir was taken in by surprise by Kartara’s swift movement. The man’s dagger-thrust, meant for Amir, pierced Kartara in the stomach.

Kartara cried out in pain, and fell into the bewildered Amir’s extended arms. A wave of silence swept over the crowd.

Amir slowly lowered Kartara on the ground, with his beloved friend’s head in his arms. He yelled out frantically, “Please, someone call the doctor! Kartara is still alive.”

There was a movement in the crowd. A young boy followed by an elder, broke loose from the crowed and ran towards the main street.

Kartara appeared to be trying to say something but the gush of blood from his mouth choked his words.

They were now surrounded by the crowd which had been overcome by the initial shock of the event. Confused shouts could be heard from all quarters. “Bring some water ---. Tie a cloth on the wound---.”

Amidst the chaos, Amir helped by a couple of hands, slowly lifted Kartara into the house and tenderly made him lie down on the cot in the courtyard.

More blood gushed from his mouth. Amir’s and Kartara’s eyes met for a second, communicating endlessly, oblivious of everybody.

Kartara, now not in control of himself and fighting the pain and spouts of blood, stammered, “Please - don’t - hurt him. He--.” And then a stillness suddenly took over his body. His hand clutching Amir’s arm fell- lifeless.

The stillness passed on to the stunned crowd. In desperation Amir jerked the still body, tears rushing down his cheeks.

“Kartara, I will never forget you, my friend,” he whispered in his ear while the others were busy gathering up Kartara’s lifeless form.

The commotion and the shouts had also brought the policemen into the house, trying to bring in order and asking the crowd to move out.

chowk*= square,
maulavi*= a learned Muslim cleric,
kurta-pajama*= a traditional Indian attire

Comments for Kinship Knows No Boundaries - contd

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Jan 11, 2018
Draws the reader in
by: Your Name: Mark Harvey

This short story is sensitively written in such a way as to draw the reader into the mind of the protagonist, with his childhood memories clashing with the grim reality of the present.
Suneet adeptly captures the myriad details of village life, seamlessly blending past and present as Amir discovers all is not well in his beloved village.
A refreshing introduction to Suneet Paul's work, I look forward to more from this author!

Nov 12, 2017

Sad but the painful truth. Humanity divided by religion and caste. There is only one religion. Humanism

Nov 05, 2017
Waah hi waah
by: Rajiv Sahai

Waah hi waah.. wonderful..keep it up.

Nov 05, 2017
Four stars
by: Rajnish Wattas

The story flows with the ease of a literary stream, gently leading into the tragic climax. The sensitively caught nuances of village life and atmospheric details are very graphic. And most significant is the state of reverie and reminisce of Amir’s mind.
The social message is direct— the futility of violence as blood has the same colour.
Though I would have wished for a little more subtle climax, as this was too direct, SuneetPaul is a natural storyteller and keen observer of societal fractures

Nov 04, 2017
Interesting Read!
by: Ar. Prem Nath

An excellent piece of short stories - true to its core in current times! It is indeed an interesting read of how a small town boy turned young urban is taken by shock of what "communal differences" has done to his good old village

Nov 03, 2017
by: Balvinder Saini

Very well expressed, touching the emotional chord and very relevant to the present times.

Nov 02, 2017
Really enjoyed reading the story
by: Your Name: Namita Harvey

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. It was a stark reminder of the human story that gets hidden behind the communal acts. The emotions were captured so beautifully... I felt the pain and shock as I read the story.

The detailed description of the village setting makes It all very real. I usually struggle to enjoy short stories but this one had my attention all the way.

Nov 02, 2017
Relevant Reminder
by: Your Name:Vivek Sabherwal

A moving story! Very relevant till date and a good reminder of our all-encompassing, tolerant traditions, which need to be safeguarded.

Oct 31, 2017
Humanity prevails

An intriguing story that engrosses you and takes you on a trail with the protagonist through a picturesque description of the village. It is only in the climax, we realise that indeed " people had gone narrower." The mob violence is in contrast to the glimmer of humanity portrayed through the characters of Asghar and Kartara. The story will restore your faith in humanity and unbounded kinship.

Oct 31, 2017
Sensible writing
by: Your Name:Bipin Kumar

I never read any stories in one go, but the contents of this story is fantastic. The way writer Suneet Paul has written this short story is phenomenal

Oct 30, 2017
Kinship knows no boundaries
by: Ranjana Joshi

Poignant story about how times have changed . Beautifully expressed ! You yourself imagine yourself as Amir and flow with the story ... as you have experienced the same emotions when you returned to your village after a long life in an urban city .. the path .. the trees ... nature beckons you and your romantic interlude with the past surfaces .... but the present is different situations have altered the landscape of life . The reunion of old friendships again surfaces and the beautiful old kinship ... adds hope to an otherwise bleak scenario ! Kudos for the human spirit Suneet Paul ! Loved it so much . Waiting for more !!!👏👏👏👏

Oct 30, 2017
Kinship Knows no Boundaries
by: Your Name: A k Joshi

Beautiful story. Description of village surrounding and railway station Takes you back to your younger days. Well done.Looking forward to next instalment.

Oct 30, 2017
Inner voice
by: Sreedevi Haridas

A nNice heartwarming story in the context of the current communal flare up in some parts of India.Yet there is a silver lining of communal harmony and sacrifice that existed beforehand between the warring factions.

Oct 30, 2017
Lovingly yours!
by: Sarita Chawla

A very well written drama piece, it describes each emotion so well. I could almost see the story - event unfolding in front of me. Title is aptly given. Enjoyed reading it.

Oct 30, 2017
Very apt title
by: Your Name: Sangita Tulsi

Beautifully written story.Depicting the present day scenario of our country, general mistrust.The end is heart touching.Justifies that kinship knows no boundaries.Human emotions have been written about in a very innocent and fresh way. The beginning is interesting, anyone who has not visited his roots since long can totally relate to it. Simple,lucid and a moving story.

Oct 30, 2017
A poignant story
by: Ambareen Farooquee

A very poignant story written straight from the heart.It is indeed a moving account of how innocence of childhood knows no man made boundaries. The communities that have co-existed down the ages have been a part of us as we have have grown up. This story subtlely reminds us of the social fabric of India which is woven into each one of us and we can't tear ourselves away from it.

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