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(4)Fiction>Nazib Wadood -‘The Magic Stick’
The full moon looks like a big gold coin between the two date trees. A few night clouds lay asleep leaning 
against the sky. They, like angels of light, shed no shadow on the ground. Moonlight of Aswin is shimmering 
Five children are sitting together on the neat and tidy courtyard. Thin films of moonlight spark on their 
tender lively cheeks and black hair. Soothing breezes, like flocks of little naughty birds, fly over, and 
play for a while with them, then again blow away in their own way. 
This is the time they gossip everyday before going to bed. Little white flowers blossom in the lemon tree at 
the south-east corner of the courtyard. The children feel their hearts filled with sweet smell of lemon 
flowers. Their faces are charming, tender and lively like petals of flower.
The youngest of them is aged about four. Her name is Jannatul Firdaus. She is not yet  mature enough to be 
called by that name. Everyone affectionately calls her Buri, that means older woman, for her precocity. 
Akbar, the oldest among them, is about to cross eight. Others are older than Buri. 
They gossip sitting on a mat of date leaves. Most time they tell fairy tales and fables. But this time they 
try to tell a true story. Everything they desire to tell is so real that these are duped by sorcery to be 
full of dreams. They cannot complete any story as if it had no ending. , no beginning too.  
So they try to start from the beginning.  
But all get dismantled and scattered. Naughty playing winds carry away both the beginning and the ending of 
the story. Each story they try to tell flies above to the sky with fragrance of lemon flowers. Pieces of the 
stories begin to twinkle on the sky like shining bluish stars. They are nothing but their dreams. The dreams 
first fly away, then return. It happens again and again. 
“What’s next?” one asks when the story fails to proceed forward. 
They do not know why their attempts lose way just after the beginning. Perhaps it is not a real beginning, 
they think. They move and rearrange themselves. They sit more closely and turn their eyes to the sky with 
steadfast look. Then they try to start but fail, then retry. Thus they repeat their attempts to recall and 
rearrange the story.
Moonlights pour down to the ground like flocks of thousands of white pigeons. The trees standing here and 
there look like black hillocks. Crickets begin to drone behind the fence of jute-stalks. 
“Then why aren’t you telling an old story?”
“Oh, I have never heard of such type of impasse before.”
Akbar moves his lips but cannot utter any word. He stares at the sky. The dream-stars twinkle without giving 
him any clue to the mystery of the scattering tales. 
“Then try with a new one.”
“Yes, this might work. Thank you.”
But the older stories seem so unforgettable that no new story can evolve out of them. Nobody can give any 
reference or clue. The stories are transformed into air molecules and mixed up with particles of moonlight.
Akbar’s younger sister is six months senior to Buri. Her eyes turn piteous. Her core of heart begins to boil 
in excitement. Seeing Akbar opening his lips, she cannot but move further  close to him and sits leaning 
forward. “Let’s tell a new story today,” she says and then maintains a definite pause to let her brother 
But their imaginations do not function. They cannot guess things accurately. A secret unexplainable matter 
destroys their minds, brains and eyes. May be that it is nothing but Darkness. An immensely large black 
stone of concrete darkness. It stands before them like a huge mountain, or a large statue of darkness. It 
hinders their eyesight from seeing what they want to see. It cannot see; so it does not allow others to see. 
It cannot touch; and no one can touch it. One can feel its existence only by imagination. The young children 
feel crude presence of the giant Darkness but can guess neither its largeness nor its strength. In fact, 
gush of down-pouring moonlight destabilizes everything. The night does not seem okay as it is everyday. 
White moon-rays blow like breeze. 
“Actually that news has foiled everything,” says Akbar’s younger sister and pouts her lips in displeasure. 
Her eyes get full of perturbation.
That statue of darkness makes them dumb for sometime. They do not find any reason behind it. 
“Won’t dad come ever?” says Buri’s only brother. He is one year senior to her. 
“How fool! Can a dead man come back home?”
“Yes. He can’t because he is dead. Rather I should say he has been killed,” says Akbar in such a usual tone 
as if he informed them of ordinary news.
Akbar’s immediate younger brother speaks less; and when speaks he looks somewhat foolish  and embarrassed. 
Everyone hearing him cannot but laugh. 
“Dad has gone to take him back,” he says. Nobody laughs this time. It inspires him to talk further. “Our 
uncle has become a Shahid,” he says after a pause. 
“What happens when a man becomes a Shahid?” says Buri very curiously.
“He goes to Heaven.”
“There is huge happiness in the Heaven. One gets everything there what he desires to have.” Akbar explains a 
“Big sweetmeats?”
“Everything… everything is available at once you want to have,” says Akbar without expressing any annoyance. 
Buri moves a little forward to him and says, “I too want to go to the Heaven.” She looks around with 
hesitating eyes as if she were doubtful of others’ approval.
“Then you should have also become a Shahid.”
“How can a person become a Shahid?”
“He is to fight… he is to die for truth like our uncle. It is called Jihad.”
“Then I’ll go for Jihad. Dad wanted to teach me it,” says Buri’s brother. His voice seems firm.
“Before that you should have to become an adult like dad,” Buri says to protest. 
A quarrel is apprehended to be raised between them. Buri hurriedly says, “It is time to go to bed. Now let’s 
go to sleep.” She dusts off her frock. Her indifferent attitude proves to be of a real old woman.
Moonlights pour down more heavily like fog. Fragrance of lemon flowers turns dense to be sensible like 
breeze. Nobody is there to look after them. They lie down there crouching on the mat. 
Then an old man comes out of light darkness on the verandah. He is the grandfather of the children. He wears 
a blue lungi that turns black in moonlight. A fair guernsey shines on his dark body. His hair and beard are 
as white as fragrant autumnal flowers. He walks slowly to the children and sits down there among them. He 
touches everybody one by one with his hands as if he counted them. Yes, all his five grandsons and daughters 
are there– nobody is missing. All they are sleeping. The old man looks at the sky. After a while, he turns 
down his eyes and casts his look to every object of his house around him– the fence of jute-sticks, clay-
made walls of the house, tin-shade roofs, the two date trees, lemon flowers and so on. Everything is okay, 
he sees. Then he lies down among the children. He does not seemingly have such leisure before in his long 
way of life. Naughty winds blow over them and playfully roll about on their heads and faces, trunks and 
Everything dips into silence. Then a sound of weeping comes out from inside a room of the house. The two 
wives of the family recite from the Holy Quran. The younger one bursts into cry every now and then. The 
other weeps in deep sorrow trying to console her. 
After a while, the grandfather wakes up in a sudden terror and gets panic-stricken. He looks around 
bewilderedly. Then he starts pushing the children to awake them up. 
“Come on, my sons! Get up!” 
He is so impatient as if his successors were attacked by dacoits. 
“Wake up my sons…! Please rise up…! Wake…! Rise…!” 
He continues to repeat his call… 
Translated by the writer from his ‘Zion Kathi’
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