“Salt in her hair and sugar in her cake
Zoya goes La La to the lake…”
The happy song that she hummed outraged the turbulent waters, Zoya was navigating over. The British had left but she still carried her English accent. The train was crammed with humans, some dead, some alive but none could breathe freely. Freedom was just a pact on the constitutions of both the countries. Many still had to breathe its essence.
At forty, Zoya was forced to leave the Bharat she had toiled for. The country that she was born into no more recognized as her own, like a mother chopping off the umbilical cord and disclaiming the delivered mass as her own. How could a faith, a religion determine the longing that one felt for the soil? In the mayhem, Zoya felt claustrophobic with her thoughts.
Children cried, women wept while the men stared at each other with dry eyes. Some had lost an arm, some an offspring, many a family and all of them their identity. What had Zoya lost? Nothing. Nothing materialistic to claim over. For past fifteen years, she was working as an obstetric nurse after losing her family in the riots that quaked the country just before Independence.
Zoya was satisfied with her work towards humanity. But off late women shuddered when she said,
“Salam Walekum, I’m Sister Zoya
Don’t worry your baby will be born Royal”
Her name stopped the contractions and set their heart into fibrillation. Her intent was drowned in the broken waters.
All hell broke loose when her doctor in-charge asked her to leave the hospital for reasons better known to all.
“One day, The Sindhu will carry me back,
In the soils of Hindustan then bury my back.”
Her compositions comforted her. The train chugged and rumbled forming smoky clouds over its head. The dusk fell and droopy eyes slept in the cool breeze that blew in.
“Aaaaa..” A woman’s shrill shook Zoya and her co-passengers.
“Help me. Bhagwan ke khatar meri biwi ko bacho.” A man with folded hands urged the living dead. His wife had gone into sudden labour.
The word ‘Bhagwan’ send a chill down Zoya’s spine. A Hindu was on a train to Lahore.
“Move aside!” Zoya dashed to the woman. The woman was howling in pain yet on seeing Zoya with an air of authority she asked,
“Who are you? What’s your name?”
“I’m a nurse. Let me help you.”
Choosing to ignore the second question, Zoya proceeded with her duty.
After two hours of push and pull, a happy wail echoed in the train. Hindu humanity was delivered by a Muslim nurse.
The train was approaching Harbanspura. Soon, it would be Lahore.
Zoya felt relief coarse her veins. Definitely there would be a day when her work would transcend borders and heal broken bridges. Right now, she was happy with healing the broken waters.
“Sugar in her tears and Salt in her determination,
Zoya goes La La with her dedication!”
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