May 16, 2013 Comments Off on Lizards in the Sky By Ammara Ahmad
The huge flying lizard gave out a shrill scream. Its eyes were bloody-red. There was a hole in Ali’s roof through which it saw him. A ball of fire slowly rolled out of its mouth, surging swiftly towards him.
Ali screamed and broke into a sweat. The lizard nightmares often disturbed him these nights.
The next morning, Ali asked his father, “Can you bomb God?”
“No,” replied his father. “You just study hard.”
Ali had avoided school ever since his Ma had died.
“But why, Baba?”
“You grow up and find the cure for the fire balls, ok? Become a doctor.”
“Kill the lizards! And those who send them!” shouted Ali.
“And how will that help, son? Let God do His justice. Ma is in paradise waiting for us.”
Paradise had toffee trees, lakes of chocolate, hills of ice-cream — and Ma. Ali could feel her warmth now, her soft body hugging him tightly, making his world safe again.
“Asif says America has lizards so big they cover half the sky.”
Asif was their neighbor, who often reminded Ali that a “real man” always avenged his relatives’ death.
“Free our Motherland!” Asif would often shout.
“Motherland is where Ma is?” Ali asked his father.
“Possibly, but to kill others we kill ourselves, Ali, and that is not what God intended.”
But Ali knew better. Asif always said that only cowards don’t fight back.
One day, Ali discovered a small lizard on the wall. He picked up a broom and hit the lizard until it was smashed to a pulp. He stared at it for a while and then asked his father, “Can we also cure death?”
“Perhaps,” his father replied. “But you have to go to school for that.”
Ali doubted he would ever enter paradise. He had hurt and disobeyed his mother. He had eaten forbidden biscuits and sweets; never studied; played in the rain and dirtied his clothes. He wished to re-live his life again, as a good boy.
His mother’s body had been blown to bits in a fireball. Only one hand had remained intact. The same hand she had run gently through his hair every night. The hand followed him now — sometimes pointing a finger at him, sometimes at the sky.
Ali’s uncle lived with them now, and as he readied Ali for school the next morning, Ali complained of hearing voices and refused to go to school, which worried his uncle.
“What if the lizards attack our house again to hurt Baba?” asked Ali. His uncle didn’t answer.
Ali waved at his father as he climbed the hill towards school. He climbed the hill slowly. The voice had returned.
“We have re-fuelled our lizard and we are near your home!” shrieked the voice.
Ali clutched his uncle’s hand hard, but his uncle remained silent. The child was clearly disturbed ever since his home was destroyed last year.
Ali looked back at his drowsy father, smiling at the door.
“Baba!” Ali yelled as he turned and ran down the hill towards him.
“Stop it now, Ali!” shouted his uncle as he chased after the child. “Just stop it! There is no one there! Ma and Baba are dead!”
© 2013 Ammara Ahmad
Ammara Ahmad is a Masters of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong, former editor the News on Sunday and one of the editors of ViewpointOnline magazine.