It is the heat

Arshid Malik 
I love children and like to spend time with them. Whenever I am with children I try to look at things through their eyes, see the world the way they do even though my vision is blurred and sometimes blocked by the gauzy mass of prejudice and distrust that comes with age. But all the same each time I am with a child, my zest for life is renewed. The energy and enthusiasm of children for life, starting anew every moment, touches me, and like a whiff of animation turns me inside out, freeing the child inside me of civilizational bondage. It is simply great to be with kids and I must confess that I owe some of my most precious experiences and insights to times spent in the company of kids and the absolute rarity of their unadulterated and unkempt knowledge.
Recently, on a sulfurous Sunday afternoon I was bored to the point of going extinct when I heard my niece yell out in excitement. The yell bore a bewildering tone and drew me to the source of its origin, my niece. This 5-year-old girl, oblivious of the scorching heat of the sun, was sitting out building a house for her doll with every rag and stick she had managed to find around the lawn. The yell was the outcome of a few uninvited entrants into the newly constructed doll house. The tiny black ants that had unwittingly walked their way into my niece’s doll house were running around, frenzied, attempting to escape the instantaneous stomping of the agitated kid when I reached the scene of the incident. Soon after, life took on its busy tone for my niece as she attended to her deliberated chores. I pulled a chair and watched her at play. The kid was very attentive to the minutest of details. The doll house exhibited a garden, a garage and a multitude of other things that one would want with a house. I was awe struck.
Attempting to make sense of the arrangement of things around the doll house, I noticed something odd, something that did not seem to belong. It was an assemblage of rags and sticks with some camouflage. I could not make out the standing of the structure in the plot of things. I was forced to beseech the attention of my niece and with dwindling aptitude I asked her what the structure was. “It is an army bunker”, pat came the reply. The earth shook under my feet or so I felt. I stood up in stupor and retraced my steps to my room. I put on some music and slipped into a state of shock. The Azan for Asar woke me up. I performed ablution and a bleary-eyed me attended the afternoon prayers.
When the prayers were done I walked around the locality, my mind riddled by incessant questions. I was shaken out of my stupor when a friend met me and quizzically informed me about the moistness in my eyes. I excused myself telling him, “It is the heat”.


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