The Promise: A Story by Maria Riaz Hamdani

A short story by Maria Riaz Hamdani about the intertwined lives of man and nature.

“Oh earth! Take me away from this zone of night and darkness to that of light and brightness”.

I say this to earth, which is travelling and revolving in its orbit around the sun. I am waiting anxiously for tomorrow to come, though I know not what is there, hidden for me, in the womb of time, still waiting to be born. Silent and cold is this darkness, this night and this stillness. But I still hope for morning to come.

And I must hope, because my life is color, fragrance and joy.

I am born to share secrets of nature. I am essence of sorrows, joys and tears, smiles and laughter. I am made from the love and millions of passions.

Soil is my mother, Yes! The very soil in which is hidden the powers of life, secrets of birth, seeds of tomorrow and echoes of yesterday.

Remember! When I take birth from this soil, with me are born peace and love, hope and kindness. I bloom to assert the power of truth.

I am the promise of tomorrow and the evidence of beauty. YES! I am all this and more, because I am a rose.

He felt as though his school van was taking him home at the speed of light.

“First I’ll tell all this to mother,” he decided to himself, “but what about father? Oh God! he is going to kill me” The very thought of this made his heart miss a beat. All he could do now was to repent the moment that he had left his bag lying unattended near the school gate and had gone by himself to play in the grounds outside the school.

“Ali, I am warning you for the last time, from now on you are going to wait inside the school till your van comes to pick you up. Is this clear?”

He remembered his father scolding him a few days ago, when he was caught playing outside the school in spite of the many previous warnings. That day Ali had escaped a real good spanking by promising never to disobey again. But today he had not only disobeyed but lost his school bag as well.

“Will mama take my side?” his seven-year-old heart wondered with fear and desperation. In his large black eyes, tears started welling, but he held them back for he wanted to be brave.

“Ali, get out, you have reached home.” He was startled by the driver’s voice.

He started approaching home with heavy steps. “I”ll hide in mama’s arms and then everything will be taken care of,” he finally resolved and with this decision he felt content. All his worries vanished.

On and on the wheel of time keeps spinning to unwind the yarn of fate. Travelling on the wings of time, I have finally reached the daylight zone of life and warmth.

All around the garden, flowers are being plucked and taken away to the real world of humans. As I have not yet fully bloomed, I am still hanging here in the garden, waiting excitedly for my time to come.

To humans, a rose appears only to be an object of beauty and delicacy, but in reality, we have innate powers of empathy. Whenever someone touches a rose there starts a silent communication of his soul with that rose as it starts reading all his thoughts. That rose senses all his dreams and desires and absorbs all his pains and joys. This is the way we roses keep on living and sharing our beauty with the world around us before we finally wither away and return to mother earth. If in our life we have have experienced something true and real, pure and strong, then that stays in this soil for ever, and when tomorrow comes and shines, there grows another rose on the face of this earth, more beautiful and colorful than those that came before.

In his father’s arms, he finally fell asleep. His face was still wet with tears and even in his sleep, his heart was beating with pain and hurt. His grief was unfathomable and he felt betrayed and lonely. He stood alone in the middle of his shattered world.

He wanted to cry and bring back his mother but he knew, somewhere deep inside, that she could never come back. They said it was a road accident, but he could not understand why it had taken his mother so far away that he could no longer see her smiling at him, her arms wide open to take him in. This world was now cold, frightening and dark with sadness

Oh! Humans,
This world of yours,
Is mad, mad and crazy.

I shiver and Quiver,
With your pains and sorrows
Lying in the flower shop,
At the corner of a road,
I breathe, breathe, and suffer,
Because you crumple my beauty,
and torture my soul,
With your vanity and deafness
Unkindness and blindness

From my native garden to this city,
I have traveled and suffered
Because to live is to bear,
Pain, anguish and trouble

Poor humans,
You have no love but impure emotions,
No faith but weakness,
No hope but hollowness,
No smiles but fake ones,
and All your tears are frozen
With greed, lust and vice.
Your souls are leprous
Shaded with evil,
Sterile and darkened
But you keep on travelling,
bitter from skin to soul,
troubled from eyes to heart,
longing from life till death,
for peace, peace and rest.

Alas! My life will end
Without promise of tomorrow
truth is immortal,
and love is eternal,
with these a rose blooms,
and if it withers,
without love and truth,
it withers forever.

“Father does mama live here now,” Ali asked while approaching the cemetery gate. He was holding his father’s hand.

“Yes, she lives and rests here in peace,” he answered and bent down to kiss his dear son.

They stopped at the small flower shop outside the gate to buy some flowers. “Daddy may I buy this white rose?”

“Why, of course you may buy whatever you like,” answered his father.

After this, father and son hand in hand entered the graveyard silently.

Here comes the end of my journey. Finally they have sold me to a little boy. I hear the birds chirping under the clear blue sky. Suddenly I have started feeling a definite change in the whole world around. I feel fresh and light, day has become brighter because I hear a sound of a heart which is full of love, hope and has the innocence of angels.

This little boy who holds me has made these last moments of my life immortal with truth and bliss of his soul.

He is standing near his mother’s grave, praying silently, under the clear blue sky. But suddenly raindrops have started falling down on me. He bends down and places me on his mother’s grave and I whisper to him that I will cherish his tears as pearls of innocence, because they are pure and rare.

Goodbye humans,
Now I wane,
But with this promise and hope
That from the mother soil
I’ll bloom again,
lovelier and stronger.

~Maria Riaz Hamdani (Pakistan)


Return to Requiem: Poems and Stories about Death and Remembrance by Young Asian Writers



3 thoughts on “The Promise: A Story by Maria Riaz Hamdani

  1. Hi there, the site was Asian Voices, which I set up and ran. This is the archived version of that site. That site closed about 13 years ago, but I thought it would be a waste to let all the things on that site disappear, so I re-uploaded everything here a few years ago. Dim Sum is a newer site that opened a year or two after the Asian Voices one shut down and is run by different people (you might have sent it to both sites).

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