By Mushtaque B. Barq
PROBE He was looking at the micro screen of his cell phone. Occasionally a faint smile like a guest from remotes and frequently a sigh like an excruciating gust after hitting the frozen peaks were pulling his dull cheeks. His eyes like his face were clasped between stares and blinks to amplify his agony which was like a polished mirror reflecting even the feeblest ray. His wrinkled forehead like a rejected canvas of an artist looked dull. His pale face melted waxy hills of my endurance. I stepped into his gloom and found he was probing an old photo of wife.
SCHOOL BAG She was arguing with a vegetable vendor when our school bus stopped at Alamgeer Bazar. Something made her run away. I shouted "stop", but she was not meant to listen to anything, at least that time. Why on earth our school bus had compelled her to run away like a thief. I stopped when a bag slipped out of her hands which she tried to hide before being recognized by my colleagues. A tremor of worry branched over my body when she whispered into my ears: "I was carrying your school bag to cart vegetables, when abruptly your school bus stopped."
SURPRISE Ahmad never invited us for a cup of tea. And we often discussed it whenever he was not around. It was raining heavily for last two days and Ahmad had missed his classes. We decided to give him a 'surprise'. After struggling for an hour to find his house, we knocked the door gently. An old man greeted us after we introduced ourselves as friends of Ahmad. He pushed the door of a room where a basket, a cane and a tin copious with rain water greeted us. We realized why Ahmad never invited us for a cup of tea.
"You stitch well", praised Naseem. Tailor master sensing the current behind admiration. "Thank you", he responded. "I need you to stitch my shirt like you stitched Roshan's", she hesitantly requested. "That is not possible", tailor master reacted. "But why, I liked the way you had stitched the neck area", she asked. Nazir only knew under what circumstances he had crafted that piece when his assistant had spoiled the neck of that shirt by placing hot iron on it. "For that you need to take help of my assistant", Nazir informed. She looked at his assistant smilingly. He lowered his gaze.
She boarded the already overcrowded mini-bus with a hen under her Pheran. Farooq attuned his bulky frame to let her feel a bit comfortable. She straight away responded by showering blessings to him. The hen suddenly started to stir. Farooq innocently requested the old lady to hold the hen properly. "Don't worry, my gentle hen won't spoil your clothes", the old lady informed. "I am not at all worried about my clothes, but....." he responded. "But what", old lady asked. Farooq looked around, and then whispered into her ear,
"I hope your gentle hen shall spare all my delicacies."
AND HE ASKED
Prakash Ram was alone in the bunker when a nine year old boy stood before him. Through that little outlet he tried to address the boy, but failed. "Uncle, can you come out of bunker", the boy asked. The man from the bunker immediately came out to deal with the boy. "What do you need?" he asked. The boy only sighed. Prakash Ram lowered his gun as a mark of respect for his innocence.
After being persuaded by the man in uniform, the boy opened his heart out. "Uncle, why don't you military men go back to your own country?" PHOTOGRAPH Rashid was watching his class fellows from the third floor where he was stationed by the head boy to monitor the proceedings in the ground. He slipped into his class room to fetch a suitable note book to copy notes. The pick of the bunch was Rizwan. His blood stopped running down his veins, his heart almost clogged, his hands trembled and his words dried when he found the photograph which was missing in their new family photo album. He picked the photograph and dumped into his own bag. At home, he found Rizwan's photograph in her sister's writing desk. DRAMA A wise man in the heart of city started hunger strike against atrocities. People from all political parties flocked around, but failed to convince him to break his fast. A wiser man sensing popularity from Delhi, joined in. After the exchange of views that night the two were seen on the table eating comfortably. Next morning the wise man was selected as Chief Minister of the state and the wiser one as Prime Minister of the country. Fools celebrated, simpletons chanted slogans and party workers danced. The only one who wept was the wisest who was ONLY sold for nothing.
Mushtaque B. Barq is a columnist besides a poet and short story writer. His earlier translation work: Mystic Voices of Kashmir was published by Jay Kay Books. His poetic collection is available on Poetry Soup and PoemHunter.com
He teaches English Literature and is associated with various literary clubs and forums. The author was awarded 'Editor's Choice Award' for outstanding achievement in poetry presented by Poetry.com and International Library of Poetry in 2007. In 2017, the author was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of his poetry being published in The Criterion: An International Journal in English in February 2017 and September 2018. The author's publications are available in New Age Islam, Shabnama.faiz-e-zabaan-org., Kashmir Lit (On line journal of Kashmir and Diaspora writing) and The Tibet Journal. The Author is a regular columnist for Daily Kashmir Images, his column 'Creative Beats' is a regular feature of his writing. His upcoming literary works include: A collection of short stories and 'Shades and Shadows', a novel and translated version of Sochkral, a Sufi poet of Kashmir, translated version of Veshi Syed's Urdu short stories, Kashmiri Wanwun translated in English, and Withered Pearls, an anthology of poems. The author has contributed a chapter: Location Tibet, Dalai Lama Lineage and Tibetan Muslims: A Brief Commentary in Tibetan Refugees in India. The author was awarded 'The Alamdar Award' for his translations.