It happened again. Aara woke up shrieking and crying inconsolably in the midnight. Her mother Zara took her into her arms and spoke soothing words, consoling her and rocked her to sleep once more. After Aara’s eyelids dropped, Zara covered her up with her quilts and sank back into the chair next to the bed.
“Zara, she will be fine,” Abdul put his hand on his wife’s shoulder and promised her. Zara looked pathetically around herself at the hospital ward where they had been staying for over a week and shook her head in denial.
Aara had been a normal twelve year old girl, typically traditional, prankster and a thoughtful kid, always having a good time with her twin brother Aarif. Aarif was a mischief maker but an absolutely adorable kid. Sheik Abdul Haqq was a landlord and a rich businessman in Pakistan. The place they lived was notoriously famous for terrorist hideouts. Abdul himself knew the secret places. Though he never spilled the beans out, he didn’t support them either. He struck a balance between everything and kept himself out of trouble.
Things were fine till an evening when all hell broke loose. A sudden drone attack broke throughout the area. Aara was at home with her mom when her father came rushing in, trying to think of a means to save his family. But alas, even as he took his wife and daughter into a secret underground cave, his son Aarif who had been out playing in the fields got blasted off in the attacks. Aara saw her brother getting killed through her own eyes and she had never been the same after that.
The attacks continued and so did Aara’s trauma get worse. It took a lot for her parents to keep her alive and barely sane. With Zara’s insistence, Abdul took a lot of chances and within a month, they migrated to Jaipur, Rajasthan in India. They hospitalized Aara to get her trauma cured. Though the change of the environment did better her condition, Aara never really could forget what she had witnessed. She used to see her brother everywhere, she could see him getting blasted off, and she could visualize blood and dead bodies everywhere. Darkness, flash lights, thunders, sudden sounds, everything were phobic for her. She woke up every night, screaming from the nightmares she got about her parents being murdered. As days passed, Zara lost hope that her only child could be cured.
The next morning, Dr.Intiaz, the new doctor in the city was shown into the ward where Aara was staring absent-mindedly into spaces. Abdul explained everything about his child to the doctor who immediately said he would take care of her. he sat down gingerly on the bed, next to her and said hello. Aara simply stared at him.
Intiaz took her hand into his and asked, “How are you child?”
She just nodded her head and gave a smile. He ruffled her hair and asked, “Would you like to come to my home? You can play with a lot of toys there.”
“Yes, I would love to,” she said, smiling after many days. She looked at her parents for their approval and they just nodded.
That evening, Aara went to Intiaz’s house with her parents. As soon as they stepped in, a fourteen year old boy came towards them and welcomed them inside. “I’m Kabir,” he introduced himself. “That’s my son,” Intiaz told them.
Aara looked at the older boy in bewilderment, remembering her brother all over again. Intiaz looked at her and said softly, “You can play with him for some time. He has got a lot of toys.”
“Yeah, you can come into my room. I’ve got a play station,” Kabir offered. Aara followed him reluctantly after her parents told her to.
Once in the room, Kabir switched on the play station and started a video game of Super Robot Wars EX. As soon as Aara caught sight of the battle field and all the noises on the screen, she shrieked and ran out into the garden through the back door, frightened.
“Aara, Aara wait,” Kabir ran after her and caught her before she could go any further.
“I don’t want to see it,” she cried, wriggling her hand.
“Ok, you won’t see it again, I swear,” he said. After a few assurances, she sat down on the ground, crying.
“What happened?” he asked.
“It is paining in my qalb,” she said pointing at her heart. “Aarif died.”
“No, he didn’t,” Kabir said slowly. “My mom used to say that when people have a special work to do, then they just move away and reach the stars so that they can look after everyone. The way they leave differs. But they are all near the stars. Aarif is also there, with my mom.” He pointed at the stars above and said, “See, there.”
Aara looked up, drying her eyes.
“Every time you cry, Aarif will also cry. He will be so sad that he won’t be able to do the special work God wanted him to do. Do you want that?” Kabir asked.
After a moment, she slowly shook her head and said, “No, I love him.”
“Then be happy for him.”
“What if more bombs come here? Ammi and Abbu will also die,” Aara said.
“They won’t come here. That’s why your Abbu brought you here. You will be safe here. Everyone is safe here.”
Aara looked at him with trust. “Did your mom also die because of big bombs?”
“No. She just died.” Kabir remained silent after that.
“Will you play with me like Aarif?” Aara asked.
“Sure, I will.” He promised.
Looking from behind, at a distance, Intiaz said to Abdul, “See, I told you my son can take care of this. Its just a matter of days. Aara will be back to normal. I promise.”
Abdul took Intiaz’s hands into his and thanked profusely.