“A Dead Brother.” – A Short Story by Imaan Siddiq

(This story is sincerely dedicated to the Pakistan Army and for that matter, to all military men, women and personnel who incessantly put their lives on the line to give others another chance to breath in peace.)

A Dead Brother.

As the time that had once flowed ceaselessly through the infinite gullies of beauty, Khalid felt familiar to the anonymity. For his brother Arsalan had always said, “Anonymity is the mystery of life and every faction of its curiosity.” Khalid felt as if everything foreign called him home, a place of comfort but he had also apprehended that Arsalan’s death was an act of discomfort, of an outreach like an explosion in the unprecedented chaos.

As the jeep rattled along the muddy, rocky road en route to Minimarg in the northern beauty of Pakistan, Khalid could feel at home in this foreign locality. A land upon which he himself had never set foot upon but a land tainted with the blood of its people in the Siachen glacier disputed among India and Pakistan. He felt as if he could have never been any closer to his brother as Arsalan’s voice echoed in the empty cosmos.

However, before the thought could be further contemplated upon, he could clearly see the Pakistan Army Headquarters in Minimarg floating into view as the building gradually becomes distant from the horizon. Although, all materialistic distances had been covered on the day when Arsalan laid his life to give his blood for the veins of this land.

Before Khalid could process the initiation of his first military experience as a military doctor, he found himself seated in a gigantic reporting hall, sitting among those who live to protect and in the remembrance of those who lived up to their words. It was his first day and he was already biting off more than he could chew as he was miles away from the warmth of his family, in a land where every second could cost you the life of a brother, literally and metaphorically as well as the lives of countless others.

After finishing the day’s briefing, Khalid had the rest of the day to himself thus he wore his lab coat and made his way to the front yard as he reminisced Arsalan telling him, “I would often sit in the yard contemplating about home and you guys, with your letters clenched in my fist and feel as if I was disintegrating into a null void but it was always evident that this soil was my home, I just apprehended that I was thinking differently.” And even though Khalid did not possess that level of ambition in patriotism yet, he did feel lost without Arsalan as he clenched his fist around the edge of the lab coat and watched the soldiers marching out.

He remembered Arsalan telling him about his own first medical practice exam in which under the specific practical situation created, their convoy of troops was attacked and hijacked which led to him and his squadron sprinting to the conflicted zone with little to no medical apparatus. Thus while further medical assistance was en route, he didn’t have a choice but to utilize his lab coat to stop the excessive bleeding from a bullet wound of one of the injured men appointed to him. It is then when Arsalan stated, “I never realized how useful that item of clothing would be.” 

Afterwards, it was only a pair of goodbyes that were uttered from quivering lips and eyes full of longing as the river longs for the freedom of the sea. However, even moments of desperation can often become the departing echoes of a wandering soul in the ravines, as Arsalan traveled to the Isle of Martyrdom. And as the light did not remain the concluding difference, separating the horizon, Khalid remembered the words of Arsalan as if they were embedded in him.

He knew that this decision would be an outreach like Arsalan’s martyrdom but he also knew that only when a gun is hung on his shoulder could he forgive himself with its burden for how could a sea of silence carry to the shore, a boat of words.

 

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