The valedictory speech was due in two hours. Safa went through in her closet frantically for 4th time but in vain. The tiara she was going to wear was nowhere in sight.
She walked to the couch and dropped there,her eyes searching the pile of stuffs. Suddenly a pink cloth caught her attention. She picked it up and stared at it for a long time, her mind wandering in the past and eyes filling with tears.
Safa was a healthy,beautiful baby who screamed the moment she was taken out of her mother’s womb as if to complain against all the injustice and cruelty that the Earth and it’s people were going to do to her. This is a common saying that a child’s first cry is the most beautiful sound to parents’ but safa wasn’t born with so much luck. On hearing that his wife gave birth to a daughter, Safa’s father,Ahmed Ali, started swearing and cursing in the small,dirty waiting room of the central hospital of a village in west Pakistan.
When Safa was grown up enough to comprehend her surroundings, she saw in her horror how her mother was beaten to unconsciousness every night by her alcoholic father; how melancholic her mother’s smile looked with toothless gums. The teeth were extracted by Ahmad Ali as a punishment the very night Safa was born.
All these sights were being carved in little Safa’s mind. She wanted to escape, erase her mother’s melancholy and see her smile with happiness.
When Safa was 10, a cousin of her father came to visit them. He stared at Safa’s blossoming feminine body for a good deal of time and went to her father to seek permission of taking her to the city. He promised Safa that she would be given pretty clothes and would be going to school.
Safa took the offer as an answer to her prayers. She clasped her mother’s hands and whispered “the time had come mother! Have patience for a little longer! Then we will be free!” The following morning Safa left with her uncle, clutching her one and only pink doll and a triumphant smile on her face.
She was kept in a dark room for two days then transferred to a dirty, shabby building where she was prisoned in a room. Different men would come to her room every night,beat her and tear her clothes,do some things that the little girl didn’t understand. She would feel every flesh and nerve of her body screaming from pain. Each and every night they left her unconscious and bleeding.
Safa would always remember the night when some police came to the building,arrested the man in her room and freed her.
By this time Ahmad Ali was dead from liver cirrhosis. Safa’s mother requested the police to put her in an orphanage as long as she wasn’t able to afford food and shelter for two people.
That was the orphanage where Emma Kloe, a widowed,childless Canadian lady came and took Safa with her to Canada and treated her as her own daughter. She took good care of Safa’s mother in Pakistan as she refused to let Safa get back to her mother till she was financially independent. Emma Kloe became Safa’s 2nd mother and the 2nd person after her mother who she adored and believed in.
The blow came when Emma Kloe suffered from a major heart brain stroke. The two main veins of the brain were torn; doctors spent the whole night in the operation theater,trying to fix her but Alas! Safa received the death news of her second mother the following morning.
She locked herself in her room and cried and wept and screamed Emma Kloe’s name because she needed her,she needed her very badly.
1 month later she received a letter from her old mother,requesting not to let the loss rule over her life. She reminded her that Emma Kloe was watching her and waiting for her to reach the point where she wanted her to be. She pleaded Safa to make her wish come true.
Safa started to burn the midnight oil to make the wish of her mothers come true. She didn’t spend her time in clubs and parties as the other girls of her age did but in libraries and educational seminars where she learnt and became more ambitious and determined.
She was invited to Harvard Medical school a year later with the highest mark in admission test and continued being the topper till the last day in the school.
Today was the day of graduation ceremony of Harvard and she was honored with the opportunity of giving the valedictory speech.
The ringing of door bell brought her back to present. She dropped the pink doll and hurried to the door where she was greeted by a letter lying on the rug. She carried it back to the couch,read it,dropped it and sat there; mute ,motionless.
8km away,in the campus of Harvard ,Safa’s classmates,teachers and thousand other people were waiting for her while she sat in a couch in her apartment, the letter carrying her own mother’s death news in front of her. The person for who she fought every obstacle and dreamed and worked hardest; and now she was gone, leaving the life to become meaningless to her daughter. How would she face the death of her mother? Would she let the agony eat her away? Would she ever be able to become a normal human being again? Or would she turn around and come up afresh? Would the history repeat itself?
No one knew.
Written by: Asma Rahman