• 08 Aug - 14 Aug, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

It all started a few months ago, when a newly found virus spread throughout the world and caused almost a million deaths. Various countries took many stringent measures to fight this epidemic by shutting down the businesses, by enforcing social distancing, and putting a ban on public gatherings and transportation etc. Soon, they realised that these measures on one hand were very effective in controlling the further spread of virus but on the other hand they were causing grave stress on the economic conditions of a commoner. The developing and under developed countries were feeling the major blunt by this unseen virus. They were finally forced to lift the sanctions and allow the people to continue with their routine life. Shops, malls, plazas, businesses and even schools were allowed to open under standard operating procedures. Public transport including inter city buses, railways and air travel was resumed. People were asked to exercise caution and take necessary measures on their own.

The results of opening the businesses and schools were not very good. People freely intermingled violating all governmental instructions and resultantly, the virus got out of control in most of the developing countries. Governments were again forced to implement a complete lock down under the directions of the World Health Organisation. This time, paramilitary forces were deployed in the cities to ensure that people do not come out of their houses for a complete one month at least. Sufficient time was given to public to stock daily commodities. The under privileged class was provided rations at their door steps. Governments did what all was possible to help the people and then, came the day when only bewildered animals roamed the streets.

It was the first day of curfew in Karachi. People initially did not take it seriously till the violators were arrested and put behind the bars. Media extensively covered the lockdown situation and provided a very positive support to the government. Finally, by nightfall, people started realising that the government is really serious this time. At around 10 pm, all the arrested people were released and given two hours to reach back to their homes or else they will be arrested again and will not be released anytime sooner.

Hamid lived in a small one room house in Orangi which he shared with a friend. He worked in a pipe factory at a nearby location. His friend had gone a few weeks back to his home town in Punjab, but could not return back due to the suspension of transport services. Hamid was scrambling the news channels on television when he heard a knock at his door. It was past midnight. He did not pay much heed to the first knock but reluctantly went to the door after hearing the second and then the third knock. In the fading light, Hamid found someone standing outside his house. There was now a police or rangers mobile which was entering in his street too. The person seeing the mobile hurriedly tried to get inside Hamid’s house. Hamid stood in the door and blocked the way till he felt a pointed object in his ribs. The person pushed him inside and in a very sharp whispering voice told him to lock the door. Hamid could now see the pistol and hence obliged silently.

The intruder kept Hamid on gun point and told him to move inside the room. Hamid realizing the situation said in a calm tone, “I don’t have much to give you. You can take my mobile and 2000 rupees which I have under my pillow but you will not be able to pass through the rangers and police check posts which by now have been established in every nook and corner of the city.” The intruder kept staring at Hamid while cutting lips with the teeth. The light in the room was already switched off, however, the television light was enough to make out that the intruder was nearly about 15, 16 years of age, and was clearly confused.

After a small pause, Hamid started laughing at the intruder’s plight. He then walked up to the intruder who stepped back. Pointing the gun at Hamid, intruder said in a shrieking voice, “I will shoot you in your head, if you move now.” Ignoring the warning, Hamid took couple of steps forward. He took the pistol from intruder’s hand and placed it on the table. “You can’t terrify me with a fake gun,” Hamid said in a soft smiley tone. He then asked the intruder to sit down and relax. Hamid by now had guessed correctly that the intruder was some street criminal who had come out at night to loot but was caught in the curfew.

The intruder sat down on the vacant bed and was now totally avoiding Hamid’s glare. Hamid spoke again, “You can spend the night here and then we will see what to do in the morning.” The intruder silently took off the joggers and squeezed on the bed. Hamid watched the television for some time and then turned it off. Very soon, the fan noise dozed both of them into a deep slumber.

It was almost seven in the morning, when Hamid got up from his bed. Sunlight beaming in the room from the ventilator was creating a mystical effect. One look at the sleeping intruder made Hamid’s heart jump to his throat. He was certainly not a boy. Hamid kept watching her for a few moments, and then went outside. After about forty five minutes he came back in the room with a breakfast tray in his hand. He placed the freshly made parathas and omelet with tea on the center table, turned on the light and switched on the television.

The intruder suddenly jumped up from the bed. Hamid kept watching the television. She had realised that her secret was no more a secret. She was standing still and trying to conceal herself in the thin air. Hamid was amused to the limits. He then in a very serious tone said, “You need not to worry about anything. We are known to slay our lives for the respect and dignity of our guests. You are as safe here as you could be at your own home.” She lifted her head up and looked at the gentleman. The honesty in his voice was enough to make her feel safe. She tried to smile. Hamid picked the sheet from his bed and put it on her shoulders. The next one month of isolation made them experience and explore the taste of pure love. She did not leave even when the curfew was lifted and the virus was defeated.•