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Aaditya and Me by Aditya Joshi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Little Magician - Series 02

Zoheb did not remember seeing his dad ever. He always heard stories of him from Nasirmiyan, who lived in the Chenaabpur village. Zoheb used to live in the village too. They had a huge mansion back then. But after his father died, they had to move to this little hut. It was connected to village only through a long mud-paved road. The road that went to Zoheb's school. That was Zoheb's only contact with the village and the world apart from Fatima.

Zoheb would often ask Fatima, "Why did we leave the village?" Fatima would reply, "After your waalid saab died, there was a burglary at our place. We lost all the money we had. We had to sell the house and come here." Zoheb would nod.

Never did the thought touch him that if they had sold their house, why they had to live in such utter poverty here in this hut.

He was too innocent for all that. He would wake up before the sun dawned. Get ready for school and play around in the tiny space they had opposite their hut. In the afternoon, he would come back. The rest of the day he would be listening to stories from Fatima - the stories were mostly about his father.

Zoheb's father, Fatima had told him, was a bright man. Zaheer, Zoheb's father was a merchant of glassware and owned a sprawling shop in the bazaar. He would procure cutlery and exquisite articles that were the privilege and the topic of discussion of the elite in the village.

His father was six feet tall and had a beautiful black beard - the one every pious Muslim was supposed to have. He wore a Lucknowi kurta-pyjama and often a velvet jacket that he had purchased while on a tour in Kashmir. He would always greet his customers with a smile and a kind word or two. This, people said, was the secret of his increasing popularity among his customers.

Zoheb never believed Fatima's description though he would nod when she told him all this. He remembered his father - had faint images of him in his mind. He remembered his father running towards their house. He remembered how his father called out to him and asked him to go inside the house and shut the door.

He heard some voices and when the door was opened, his father lay dead.

He had suffered an heart attack.

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