Cellophane Bag!

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

The faded, dusty piece of cellophane lifted itself up into the dry air of a sodium-lit evening. One pale blue, almost crystal I clarity, it had now faded into a crumpled mass of milky grime. Elated when a gust of wind lifted it up, a false life granted to it but for a second, it subsided into a pothole, barely escaping the plastic rush of a Honda Wave 125 that whizzed by, carrying a young couple to an unknown destination. The homesick driver of a heavy truck, carrying the refuse of an island of affluence and poverty, crushed it into the unforgiving concrete blocks of the road that even ran past the local jail. But soon, the sweet, cheating fingers of the wind lifted it once again and played it down the road, destination unknown….

“Look at that old cellophane shopping bag!” The man said. Who but a fool, a dreamer, an incorrigible observer of trivia, would ask someone to look at a discarded piece of cellophane which some environmentally-unaware fool of a different kind must have dumped on a public road on which BMW’s cruised? Who, but a man unheeding of that silent voice in the air to go out there, and plunder of the fruit of an overpopulated island-apple to click up one’s financial tasbeeh prayer beads, would condescend to look?

A police car arrived on the scene, disgorging its occupants. Two uniformed officers and a young man in a nondescript outfit of a color described by default as brown crossed the road and entered the jail in front. It looked like they were all friends, uniformed or otherwise, on a road that also boasted of a filling station and the function-unknown buildings of a small army. Some more police arrived, this time on a scooter, parrot-green vests picking up and reflecting any light thrown in their general direction. And no one looked at the cellophane as it escaped its pothole prison and went in search of a futile, non-existent heaven for used bags.

“Look at it! Even that little piece of cellophane has a tremendous story to tell.” Still the man. She still preferred to keep quiet, perhaps wisely. Maybe she knew the man well enough to tolerate the ramblings of a hopeless addict to the crime of continuously personalizing every little piece of garbage he came across. Maybe she had just met him and was sizing him up, trying to figure out if he was testing her wits, giving her a cardiac examination, or simply making polite conversation to fill the empty night with something. Anything?

Stars twinkled overhead. Orion the hunter lined up his belt carefully at the Pleiades cluster, as he had done every night since Adam decided to give Eve the once-over, setting in motion a series of events that raised not only in the minor disagreement between Cain and Abel but dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima. However, sometimes those very stars also witnessed more encouraging acts like two like-minded beings out to absorb the magic of a midnight, feeding their souls not with the material as the spiritual. Sometimes, those stars also witnessed a discarded but honorable shopping bag being tossed about on a cruel road.

“That bag could have been used by a mother to carry food…” The man finished the sentence. But the woman did not initially hear it. Was it because she had stopped caring? Was it because boredom also had limits?

“…..a can of precious powdered milk for the children.” The woman said, silently, to herself. For she had always taken silence as her golden virtue.

Then, the woman heard the ending of the man’s sentence dovetailing into hers. Like a bolt of lightning from the amazing sky overhead. For sometimes even a human mother becomes no more than a cellophane bag, to be used and discarded after her duty is done…?

Suddenly, it did not matter if plastic scooters scurried past, carrying their midnight load of the young and carefree. It did not matter if tons of garbage ran by in their trucks-full. It did not matter if police cars stopped and disgorged the upright in symbolic blue, the bent in stereotype black, or anything vague in between. What did matter was that a bit of human emotion personified just another cellophane bag and had the courage to exalt it into mother-heroine status. Just like the simple blessings that we take for granted, like love and care and understanding and the sheer magic of life itself should be in greater measure. Like thanking Fate for the rare privilege of seeing hope in the eyes of a kindred soul.

At that moment not only Orion but entire galaxies of stars twinkled overhead and life was worth the living as the click of a more meaningful tasbeeh was heard somewhere in the background.

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  • anarkali  On October 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I am a daughter. I am a mother. My child was removed from me by force. I am a plastic bag today but I am only 30 years old. Mr.Waheed you making me cry. You know how I feel. You are a sweet man. You are like a candle in a dark night. Will you write another story about mothers, please. Thank you again.

  • curious_mind  On October 27, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Simple yet meaningful. nice story Mr.Waheedh

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