Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch
After departing from the bus, he strolled towards the lamps and sat facing them. His hair had turned grey, his eyes were sunk deep into their sockets and his cheeks had lost most of their flesh. Ahead of him laid an endless and quiet plain. Only a small girl with a doll was wandering across the plain. He took out a packet of cigarettes from his pocket, lit one and looked keenly at the girl. Holding the doll against her bosom, the girl was looking into the sky.
When she saw the man, she rushed towards him and sat next to him.
“Where are you from”? She asked the man.
“I am coming from far away,” replied the man.
“You don’t have anyone from here, do you?”
“It is the land of my ancestors”.
“So why don’t you go home”?
“I am a traveler here”.
“Didn’t you say it is the land of your people”?
“They are no more”.
The girl positioned her doll right in front of him and said: “I too am a traveler. Nobody knows me here as well”.
“What about your parents”? Asked the man.
“This doll is all I possess,” replied the girl.
Both reflected silently for a moment. The wind stopped blowing, rain poured from the above and the fire of the lamps went off. Yet there wasn’t any darkness between them and they could see each other quite clearly. Suddenly, the girl saw the tiny wrinkles on the man’s face.
“These wrinkles on your face…”
“These are the marks of my experiences”.
“Experiences? What does that mean”?
“The sorrows and happiness one gets from life”.
“Then why I don’t have them”? Asked the girl innocently.
“You are still too young and you haven’t experienced the world yet”.
The girl picked up her doll, held it against her bosom and said:
“It isn’t true; I am not that young”.
“No, you are still a minor girl”.
Once again silence prevailed between them.
In the meantime, they thoroughly looked at each other.
The lamps lit once again but there was no sign of the man and the girl with the doll. Only a piece of paper laid there which read:
“Despite encountering her, the father couldn’t recognize his daughter”.
Fazal Baloch teaches Urdu at Atta Shad Degree College, Turbat. He is the first regular translator of Balochi literature into English.