A Twist of Fate


It was raining cats and dogs that day. The normally blue sky was now densely coated with shades of grey, and the sun was nowhere to be seen. It was as if the earth was a container, and the clouds were its lid. Whereas, we were the poor insects trapped inside, waiting for someone or something to set us free from the shadowy atmosphere and into the bright, sunny one where everything was clear.

You see, people typically associate the words rain, thunder and lightning with words like gloom, sadness and fear. And, why shouldn’t they? There’s a physical darkness, casting a shadow on all living and non-living things thanks to the absence of the standard, piercing sunshine. There are flashes of lightning, like electricity running through exposed wires in the sky, followed by unanticipated explosions that make you jolt in place, every single time. There’s wind, strong enough to move you, move trees, move houses. There’s wind, coupled with rain droplets, hitting you in the face, rushing past your ears, and traveling so fast it fills the air with an eerie echo fit for a horror movie.

But, there was no lightning that day. There was no thunder. And, there was no wind. In fact, everything was calm and there would’ve been pin drop silence if it weren’t for the synchronized sound of droplets of water, repeatedly hitting the ground at the speed of gravity.


I couldn’t stop staring at him.

We stopped at a red light, and I rolled down the window of the car. He had to be eight years old. His golden hair, now a shade darker because it was drenched with water, was matted to his head and face. His clothes, also drenched, seemed as if this was the only wash it had gotten in a very long time. There was water running down his freckled face, making him squint and blink constantly. He held out a small handful of pens to sell.

Other than the hair color and skin tone, he had the exact same set of eyes as him: big, and protected through long, thick eyelashes. He had the same round nose, and the head that was too big for his body. I looked around. He could catch a serious cold standing out here. He could be injured by a moving car, or kidnapped and taken away from his family. He could be harmed, drugged and abused. Who let him stand out here? Where was his mom? We stared at each other for no more than 10 seconds, listening to the sound of the steady patter of rain before the light turned green, and the car jerked forward.

He looked exactly like my younger brother, and I felt an iron fist, slowly clench my heart.


After that, I kept seeing people I knew. I saw my grandfather roaming the streets with a cane, asking for alms. I saw my father sweep away the dirt in front of his rundown shop. I saw my sister, in her worn out clothes, wash dishes and clean houses before she made her way home at night. I saw my mom sewing clothes on a machine old enough to break apart, in a room as small as a bathroom. I saw my uncle, sun burnt and knee deep in cement. I saw my aunt selling handkerchiefs on the street. I kept seeing people I knew.


               Isn’t it earth-shattering, that with one curious twist of fate, you wouldn’t have been able to be reading this?


Maham Zeb


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