Art & Literature

The Night Beyond the Window

By: Sharaf Shad

Translated from Balochi by : Fazal Baloch

The woman opened the upper window of her two-storied old bungalow and gazed down into the narrow lane.

It was silence all around. She turned back to clean and arrange the stuffs of her bedroom. It was quite a small room with not too many things. A giant mirror hung down the wall. An old fashioned bed, a threadbare carpet, a few books, a comb, a bottle of hair oil, a few photographs on the wall and a silver-patterned wooden box were all one could see there.

Other than a woman, nobody else was seen in the house. Sometimes she stitched clothes, sometimes read books and at times sat before the mirror and did her hair. She had long raven hair. She was a gorgeous woman with a perfect height in her mid-thirties. Though from the
window her eyes were not visible clearly, they looked wide opened and deserted. Many a time she stood at the window. Nobody saw her hanging her head out of the window. But the people passing through the lane would presume she was standing by the window. Boys would
raise their head once and look upward. Women enquired about her with a relatively loud voice and she would slightly stretch out her head through the window and respond to them.

During her absence, the window would remain closed. But in winter evenings and summer afternoons it would always remain opened. And at such times she would set a windowpane ajar, recline herself against the bed and intermittently gaze outside.

At that time a boy would walk through the streets. She would leave her chores and hang her head out of the window bars and wait for the boy to pass through. The boy would gently raise his head upward till he entered his house. The clip clop of his feet on the steps kept reverberating in woman’s ear for quite sometimes. The woman had never visited them but she knew the exact number of the steps of the floor. She poured out her heart to the clip clops
of the boy’s feet. She would know even without looking at that direction, that who opened the door and entered in. The boy placed his school bag aside, came to the window and looked at
the next-door window. The woman did not look at him but she knew the boy had his eyes fixed on her; the eyes she would always wait for. If someday, he happened to be late, she would want to ask his friends about him, “where is your friend today”? But she never asked them.

Time passed by.

The boy was 13 or 14. The desire to gaze into the front window was gaining momentum by
the day. One day he asked his mother: everyone visits our home but nobody comes from next-door. Her mother astonishingly looked at him for a while but did not respond. She did not have the answer. An aged woman with her widowed daughter lived next door. It was not long ago when they came and settled there. They made terms with nobody. Who were they?
Where did they come from? Nobody knew. She just learnt that the woman was a widow who had a daughter whom her husband had forced to live with him.

The woman was quite sombre and alone without her daughter.

On a winter night the woman lay stretched in her bed and the boy was asleep at his house.
She felt the heavy breathing of the boy. She sat on her bed and kept hearing the soft soulful breathing of the boy for quite sometimes. She wished that she could hang her head out of the
window and exchange a few words with the boy while he was on his way back home from school. If he happens to fall sick she could sit by his bed and press his head. She was not sure
if anything like that would happen ever. She thought to herself. “I think I would grow old in this closet. My hair would fall down. The boy would become an adult and who knows where he would go. I wonder if ever someone would pull that window open again and I’d get a chance to catch a glimpse of that handsome face. Then, heaven knows, who I would wait for
and pass the never ending days of my life”. With these thoughts as if someone stabbed a blunt knife through her heart. She jumped out of the bed and stood by the window.

It was a calm moonlit night. Through the window the moonbeams slanted across the boy’s face. He was in deep slumber and breathing heavily. A wave of pain seized woman’s heart.
She wondered how long the distance between the two houses was. She wished someone could build a bridge between the two windows so she could travel to the boy. She would not awake him. Just kiss him from afar and turn back home. But neither was the distance too short nor she had a heart as courageous as her longings. She returned and lay stretched in her
bed.

Heaven knows what time it was in the night. She was still brooding when she heard a rattling sound, as if someone was fishing through a bunch of keys and trying to open a lock. Then the window turned open. The woman rose to her feet and placed her ear against the window. She peered through the window and looked down in the street. She could not see anything in the darkness. Suddenly she sensed the familiar fragrance of the boy. She looked down the window. The boy was hanging down from the front-door window. The woman quickly stretched her out her hand and held boy’s hand and helped her out of the window. In the next
moment the boy was sitting on her bed. His hand was in woman’s hand.

“Why did you come here”?

The boy crouched. His head bowed lower.

“Tell me, why did you come here? What do you want?” The woman affectionately asked him in a soft tone.

“Madam,” the boy barely blurted out. The woman quickly held his hand against her bosom and said

, “Yes, come on my darling. Tell me.”

The boy could not say a word any further. He quickly rose to his fee and embraced the
woman. The woman too pressed him with love in her embrace. Tears trickled down her eyes.

The boy placed his soft lips on her forehead. The woman drifted off to a state of entranced ecstasy. She felt God had finally answered her midnight prayers.

Several moments passed by. Both were silent in each other’s arms. Suddenly the boy started caressing the woman’s bosom. The woman was taken aback. She separated the boys from herself and slapped him across his face and pushed him away from herself. The boy swirled aside and bumped his head against the bed. He held his head in his hands and lowered his gaze. The woman looked at him annoyingly. She saw the tears welled up in boy’s eyes and he
was pressing his head. The woman scurried to him and sat facing him.

“Did it hurt you?”

The boy’s faced had turned red out of pain.
“I think you have a headache, come I will help you relax,” the woman said affectionately.
Boiling with anger, the boy moved away from her. With an empty smile the woman pulled him back to herself and began pressing his head. The boy silently surrendered himself to the woman.

While pressing the boy’s head, she felt her hands turning limpid. The boy gently rested his head on her bosom. The woman brought him in the fold of her arms, closed her eyes and seized the flow of the time with herself.

The boy started caressing gently her bosom. The woman pulled herself a bit but she did not say anything. The boy shivered a bit and held his hand. After a pause, again his hands went wayward. Gradually, his caresses gained momentum. The woman gently put his hand aside.
The boy annoyed himself and broke from her away. She quickly went to him and stood
facing him. She held her hand.

“Don’t go far away. Come on my darling. Come into the fold of my arms,” said the woman in trance and ecstasy. The boy moved and stood away from the woman. She strolled ahead, held
his hand and pulled him back to herself. She brought him in the fold of her arms like a lion overtaking his prey. The entranced woman pressed him in her arms and slobbered him with kisses. Both were out of their mind. Both had sunk deep in trance of intimacy.

Her body lay collapsed like a tree uprooted by a flood and a wave of pain wrenched her heart. Tears kept falling on her cheeks like hailstones. She began sobbing incessantly. The flood of tears courses down from her eyes. She spent several hours in tears and sobs.

After quite a while, she managed to join the bits of her shattered being. She looked through the window. Even in the darkness the boy was clearly visible. He was looking towards her. With the sight of the boy her heart was again seized by a wave of pain. She ran back to her bed and soaked the pillow with tears.

In the morning, before leaving, the boy stood in front of the window. As usual the woman
was standing in front of her window looking at the boy. Her eyes appeared blood shot while her face looked pale and gloomy. Her long uncovered raven hair was playing with the wind and lay dishevelled across her face. The boy looked him and smiled triumphantly. In the very moment the pain wrenched her heart again and tears welled up in her eyes.

“Oh,” the boy blurted suddenly. No one was at the window. The boy rushed towards the
stairs.

The street was filled with a clamour. The woman’s dead body lay crumbled there. The boy straightened her hands and feet and brushed the dishevelled hair from her face. He sat at the head of the dead body. With tearful eyes he looked into the eyes of the dead woman. Her eyes still lay opened. The boy had never seen woman’s eyes like that before. Her eyes looked as bright as last night. But at that moment the sun had not risen in them as yet.

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