Just Bliss

Old lady of Aleppo and Abdullah (part 3)

Posted on: January 13, 2018


He recalled a Friday when  people were offering Jumma prayer in ruined mosques when there was air raid on Eastern side of Aleppo. The whole city turned into debris of flesh, blood and dust within no time.Causalities of Rebellious Militant’s were less in number compared tocivilians.There was chaos everywhere.  Screams, sighs, whine and depression prevailed in the entire neighborhood. The excavation work started toremovebodies from the rubble.Even after two days, they kept pulling the bodies from the rubble.

It was  the second day after bombardment, and there wasmassive destruction on the Eastern side of Aleppo. They still had to count the dead bodies. They still had to calculate the damage and cost ofdestruction caused  by this attack. To Syrian Airforce raided the western side of Aleppo once again to provide support to the rebellion militants.Human bodies scattered all over the place as blood poured on the streets. It wassuch a horrid sight that one would not want to recall, but its difficult to forget it either.

Leaving his colleagues behind, he moved to western side in his ambulance. It was as if there was competition between two parties to kill.  They wanted tosee which force kills more residents, rather than havevictory over the territory. The rescue parties got exhausted digging out the corpses.  The dead were in colossal number  there seemed to be no end.. He was carrying the  body of a two year old child from the remains of a building and was running towards his ambulance, when he sawa storm of dust raising from another building.  While on the west, the flameswererising high with the wind, making the atmosphere ghastly and ghostly. Though for many years he had been working in Iraq and Syria with rescue teams or other rescue services but he had never seen such a deadly sight. Looking up at the sky then looking at the body of a child he felt desperate cursing the inhuman act. Then he caught sight of a building in flames just at a distance. An oldwoman drenched in blood was screaming for help from the second floor of the residential apartments.This lady reminded him of his mother, and he felt as if his mother was calling him for help.  He recalled when hismothercalled for help from the second floor of the building in Moti Bazaar mohalla in TejGunj, a city of previously East Pakistan and now Bangladesh.The MuktiBahini’s fanatical workers threw kerosene oil on the burning building to cause more damage and fatalities rather than help his mother. A twelve year old boy was watching his apartment on fire from across the road in someone else’s home while his mother was calling for help. He kept screaming for help but in vain. The occupant of the house put hands on his mouth and took him to other room. They all were helpless. The boy’s younger sister Mariam sat trembling with terror. The boy finally got exhausted of screaming, and fell asleep where as his mother burnt to ashes. Few days later his father came to them after getting through many hurdles,  and took both himand his sister during the darkness of night. (He was the boy who had gone  through this chaos and mayhem)

He didn’t know where was his father was taking him and his sister. Hence on the way he asked his father; “Where are we going, dad?” his father replied in heartening voice; “Son, I have no idea myself”.  They kept moving in dark crossing groves, ditches  and furrows until the end of the next day  when the sun was ready togo down. They reached a place where frightened women, children and  elders. There he also saw some men in armed forces uniform. Few days later he came to know that in TejGunjMuktiBahini attacked, looted and plundered the homes of the non- Bengalis and people of West Pakistan who they called Biharis. Pakistani armed forces set up a refugee camp to help and save the victims. The victims then migratedto Burma.They walked for miles and miles, crossed rivers, mountains and  forests. The homeless and wretched people who had come all the way from Bangladesh stayed there for two or more years. During their stay his father  worked odd jobs for survival. His father then decided to go back to his country, Pakistan. Unfortunately when all arrangements were made to move to Pakistan his father was offered a lucrative job in a small bridge manufacturing factory. But his father was determined to return to his own land. Refusing the offer they came to Pakistan. Being a teen ager he had no idea of what’s happening and why.He remembered that his mother often used to say to her husband; “We should better go away from here” he inquired; “Mother why do you so often ask father to leave this place. But why do you say this? Why and where should we go?”

She once replied; “Your father’s family and my parents all lived in Delhi, Chand Qidwai Chowk behind Post Office near Reshmi Haveli. At the time of partition both your paternal and maternal parents migrated to West Pakistan. Your father was then serving Railways as engineer. He was given special training by British to place railway track on and soggy and boggy areas. We also planned to move to West Pakistan with our families and relatives. The Government made special request to stay back in East Pakistan as he was one of the few with expertise in laying railway track. Hence we stayed back in East Pakistan. The frame you see hung on the wall in the external room above the book shelf has the same letter that Quaid e Azam wrote to your father asking him to go to East Pakistan. Considering that letter your father cancelled his program of going to West Pakistan”.

But now the letter, mother and the entire house is history. All burnt to ashes. His father, younger sister Mariam and self were still alive, butsince that dreadful incident father remained quiet and lost in thoughts most of the time. His father held himself responsible for all that horrible incident.

He was so occupied in his memories that could not hear sound of blasts or rumbling of buildings. He heard a feeble yelp of the old lady who was still asking for help. She was not calling from the second floor but she was in the midst of flames, heat and smoke. She was half conscious and hunched from her balcony like a worthless thing. He placed the body of the child he was carrying in his arms in the ambulance and started yelling; “Mother! I’m coming”, and he ran towards her. He was in such frenzy that falling buildings, blazing flames were out of his sight. He was fearless and daring at that moment. The old lady of Aleppo was then his mother in TejGunj of Moti Bazaar who was in agony in a burning home surrounded by fire,stinks and smokesand needed him. He entered the building jumping over things that were burning and breaking apart. He had no idea of the building and  how to get to the second floor.  Somehow or the other he managed to get to the second floor. The old lady was in the midst of fire, mud and smoke. She could notendure the heat and smoke so she fell in the balcony almostsemi-conscious. Without wasting a moment he carried her out on his back. She was like a dead body hanging down half in front of him and half at his back. Once again he looked up in the sky begging Almighty to save the old lady. Speedily and daringly he got out of the flames, smoke and breaking and falling of the building’s structure.He placed the body of the child on the front seat next to the driver’s seat. The he laid the old lady on the stretcher in the ambulance.

After sitting in the ambulance he drove at the fastest speed and went straight to the hospital in his camp. Carrying the lady on his back he started shouting hysterically; “The lady on my back is not the old lady of Aleppo——she’s my mother—- if she’s not treated here and taken care of, I swear I’ll burn myself and this camp to ashes”


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